For many of us, this represents our fresh start, new beginning, “do-over”, or, best of all, the year we finally do It (whatever “It” might be) …
Well, the statistics about new year’s resolutions are not promising, with measured failure rates from the high eighties to the low nineties. Here’s one or two more studies that reinforce the low success rate for resolutions starting January 1. The general blogosphere and other media overflow this time of year with discussions of why this is and how to be one of the 8% who stick to it.
So why do leaders still get all energetic about changing and growing around this time of year? Simply because we know we need to change ourselves in order to lead others through ongoing change.
We plan for renewed strategic visions, impactful tactical initiatives,“Wow-level” or viral press releases, and increased sales/retention/reach. We want to succeed … Sometimes to ourselves and sometimes to others, we think or say things like:
“This is the year I will finally become the leader I want to be.”
“That’s it. Only innovative and productive ideas will be entertained from now on.”
“I pledge to become more available to those who depend on me effective on the first business day of the new year.”
“We must cut costs and increase revenue.”
“We need to go “all-in” on the new product/service and make it work.”
“I plan to renounce arriving early and working late as a sign of leadership and a model for others.”
Not a bad thought here and I could add more things I have either said, thought, or heard from others. The problem is not what we want to do or how we want to change.
Tying our leadershipdevelopment to a date or a time period creates an artificial environment, where early stumbles or fails make us feel discouraged without a real need.
Placing the emphasis on starting out on a particular date, without a reason other than tradition or wishful thinking, has a low success rate as noted above. New Year’s Resolutions do not seem valid reasons to start or change simply because of a calendar date.
THE BOTTOM LINE:
If you find yourself often waiting for an artificial start time to make your changes … stop waiting.
If you think that a new year in and of itself has a magical or emotional power … look to yourself for the magic.
If you really want to Make A Difference … start when you feel that need in yourself.
Work toward your personal goals continuously, take daily steps to improve your relationships with those you serve, increase your positive influence on others, and generally make your world, both at work and at home, a better place.
Resolution of Resolutions Scale:
Note: All of this requires honest and objective evaluation of where you really fall on the Resolution of Resolutions scale (copyrighted by Me and totally unscientific). Simply honestly answer the one-question survey below (No time limit, no working in groups or cheating):
The Question: How do you HONESTLY score on a 5 point scale for accomplishing what you set out to do?
Here’s a hand scoring chart for point values with guidance:
1 – Every blessed time or real close to It
2 – Often enough to brag about It
3 – Middlin’ often, I reckon
4 – When I really, really want to do it and really, really try to do it
5 – I see Goal-Setting as more of an intellectual exercise
The lower the score, the more ready you are to take advantage of New Year’s Resolutions, your work anniversary, St. Patrick’s Day, the full of the moon, or any other random date which you hold significant to set and accomplish goals.
The Japanese use the word “Kaizen“, also known as “Good Change”, to describe making small, continuous changes. MindTools, one of my favorite business information sites, has a very accessible description of this approach, if you are unfamiliar with Kaizen or just want to check it’s pronunciation.
Kaizen is a powerful concept … and ever so much easier to execute than to lose significant weight safely and permanently or stop over-indulging in all things chocolate.
1) Do what you have to do when you have to do it.
Some things are legitimately connected to year ends and beginnings, such as financial reports, or REQUIRED (not just desired or historic) reports. If you have to do it at year-end, do it at year-end.
However, many things we engage in have no less value in July than in December. Much of our annual reinvention fits here.
Learn to tell the difference between what you must do and what you are simply choosing to do at a specific time for a specific reason.
2) If you scored an honest 1 or 2 on the survey, got for it.
If you are one of the 8% or less who can use the start of a new year as a motivator for positive change, you are already ahead of me. If you take my little survey above first (honestly) and the results support this, I bow to your superior will and wish you Godspeed … Continue to do what already works for you and have at those resolutions:)
3) My comments do not suggest you do not make goals.
Goals are essential to drive behavior and to increase the possibility that you will do what you want to do, in the best way, within the necessary time frame. You just do not have to wait until the New Year or any other date to plan, act, change, and evaluate. You can and should engage in planning every day on various levels.
Bonus: A recent article reinforces my thinking here, at least when it comes to exercise.
Wondering what the New Year will bring, but ready to “muddle through”in the Heartland ….