I’m sorry, lo siento, prastee meenya pozhalosta, and mea culpa. Please don’t hate me, but I had to do it. I know you are probably sick of the subject, but no self-respecting time management/productivity expert could get away with not writing about New Year’s resolutions on the verge of not only a New Year, but a new decade.
Oh, and not to put any pressure on you, but, according to a 2008 research study done by Steve Shapiro and the Opinion Corporation of Princeton, NJ, 45 percent of Americans usually set New Year’s Resolutions and 17 percent infrequently set them. Only 38 percent absolutely never set resolutions.
So if you’re on the fence about whether you’re going to incarnate your intention to lose weight, exercise more, write your book, build up your web business or expand your operations overseas, I’ve rounded up a few very smart authors of new books to help. Here’s what they had to say about New Year’s resolutions, and all that they entail:
Gretchen Rubin, author of “The Happiness Project“
“I think New Year’s resolutions (whether made on January 1 or some other time of the year) absolutely can work. However, resolutions are far more likely to succeed if you frame them the right way.
- Be concrete. Think of specific actions that you want to undertake, not abstract goals. So instead of, “Find more joy in life,” try, “Have lunch with a friend once a week.” Instead of, “Be a kinder mother,” try, “Have lunches and backpacks packed the night before so the morning isn’t as crazy.”
- Hold yourself accountable. I keep a Resolutions Chart where each day, I score myself on whether I’ve kept my resolutions. You might form a group with friends to keep each other on track (this is one reason why Weight Watchers is so effective).”
Josh Leibner, co-author of “The Power of Strategic Commitment“
“As management guru Henry Mintzberg said, ‘Strategy and planning don’t make things happen — people do.’ Mere talk about what one wants to achieve in the future is meaningless. But writing down goals — keeping them visible so they provide guidance when other opportunities present themselves or distractions occur — can help keep you on track. While resolutions are never a guarantee of future performance, the likelihood of fulfilling them is significantly increased by:
- Making only a few resolutions you are absolutely committed to, rather than listing everything you think you should do out of obligation.
- Making the resolutions bite-size. If you have always wanted to learn another language, make the resolution that you will start lessons, not that you will ‘speak the language fluently.’ Winning by following through on a smaller resolution will provide momentum for taking on larger challenges throughout the year.
- Including a resolution about what you want to be, not just what you want to do. For example, you may want to expand the degree to which you are known as an expert in your field or the difference you make in your community. Some measurable indicators for these resolutions might be useful, but many may be validated by your self-assessment only.”
Don Joseph Goewey, author of “Mystic Cool“
“New Year’s resolutions are not that effective (according to some research, only 12 percent succeed). But I also would say there are a few things the research has found help increase the odds for success.
- Men should set specific goals. Delineate where, when, how and how often you are going to work on changing this or that behavior. Be specific.
- Women should tell others about their resolutions. Social support helps women stick with their plan.
- Choose a new approach. Using the same old strategy that failed before is not effective. Inventing a new way works much better.”
Sam Glenn, author of “A Kick in the Attitude“
“I believe many people make resolutions with an expectation that just stating the goal will bring positive change to their lives. But resolutions only work if you make a plan to make them work, including:
- Getting a push partner. Find someone who will support you even when you don’t feel like following through on your resolution. That person should care enough about you not to let you make excuses and to keep you going when you lose steam or get distracted or off track.
- Celebrating each small progress. If you watch ‘The Biggest Loser,’ they cheer and celebrate every little step of victory. It helps build the enthusiasm to keep you going.”
And here’s my take on the topic: I’ve always viewed New Year’s as an unofficially pronounced national do-over day. It’s a chance to wipe the slate clean, declare a new beginning and, if nothing else, jettison any past poor performance — business or personal. So on January 1st, pick yourself up, dust yourself off and start all over again — hopefully with a few well-chosen goals. Happy New Year everyone.
What are your few well-chosen goals?