Please Quit Making Resolutions


It is a common and ritualistic practice to spend the end of year thoughtfully considering what you will change in the New Year.  In our post-turkey euphoria, we make the decision to conquer the world.  In that solitary New Year, we plan to double all of our lifetime accomplishments.  There are so many things that we plan to achieve in the New Year, even though we didn’t achieve them this year.  Our most recent behavior is even more incredulous.  During the past month, we have eaten our way from a medium to a large.  We have supplanted eleven months of fiscal responsibility with one month of wanton and reckless expenditures.  It wasn’t your fault.  You were convinced that you deserved a reward for a long, arduous year.  But now you are ready. You are ready to turn that proverbial switch and instantaneously change your ways.  Unrealistic!

It is the right thing to do.  Reassessing where you are and where you want to go at the end of the year makes sense.  There is something about the end of the year that reinvigorates commitment.  There is something fresh about a new year that heightens your previously feeble motivation.  I’m not trying to discourage that energy.  I’m just trying to encourage using it in a slightly different way.  When we make “resolutions”, we hope to resolve an issue.  We want to change the way we do business.  We make cliché commitments.  “I am going to lose weight.”  “I am going to spend more time with family.”  “I am going to make more money.”

At first, these seem reasonable and attainable.  Unfortunately, they are fool’s gold.  You’ll be lucky to maintain them through February.  The trouble is that resolutions are hollow.  They are qualitative.  They have no substance.  They can’t be measured.  You can make all the resolutions you want, but you will find yourself making the same resolutions year after year after year.  Instead of resolving a problem, you need to make goals.

What’s the difference?  Goals are different from resolutions, because they are quantitative.  They are tangible.  They can be measured.  Goals hold you accountable.  Goals don’t resolve problems, they set expectations.  They announce your intent to the world.  Instead of a resolution to losing weight, make the goal to lose 15 pounds.  Instead of a resolution to spend more time with family, make the goal to spend one weekend a month with the family.  Instead of a resolution to make more money, make the goal to earn $10,000 more next year in overtime.  The other difference between resolutions and goals is time.  Resolutions are nebulous and behavior based.  Goals are specific and result based.  Not only are they measureable, they are time sensitive.  The weight loss resolution becomes a goal to lose 15 pounds in 6 months.

Looking at your new year in this way will allow you to focus.  It will make your plan of attack that much more distinct.  Your successes will be clearer and your failures will be more obvious.  You can replace that arbitrary year end process of evaluating your resolutions, with a check list of the goals you have achieved.  You can change your focus from what you didn’t do, to what you have accomplished.  Instead of guilt, you have results.  Instead of problems, you have solutions.

The New Year is almost here.  Don’t waste it making silly indistinct, noncommittal resolutions.  Think about where you want to be and make the goals necessary to get there.  This will be a great year.  You are poised for success.  Don’t hesitate to tell the world what you want and what you will do to get there.  Starting today, your goal is go out there and get it!

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