It’s the start of a new year. If you are like most people your optimism for positive change is at the highest it will be for the next 365 days. There is something almost magical about a new year. It is a clean slate. A chance to start over. We have visions of changing; of finally getting in shape, of starting to travel, building stronger relationships, and improving our finances and career.
And yet, deep down we know the ugly truth: Most new year’s resolutions fail faster than milk goes bad in the fridge. We know this. That’s why many us don’t even bother to set goals for the new year. We know it is fruitless exercise. We wish it was different, but our experience tells us that new year’s resolutions just don’t work.
Why New Year’s Resolutions Fail
There is nothing inherently wrong with a desire to improve your life as you enter a new year. Growth is a natural part of the human experience. We are actually happiest when we are growing, even though it may not feel that way when that growth is pushing us to do new and uncomfortable things.
So why do new year’s resolutions fail at such a high rate?
New year’s resolutions are actually based on a false premise: That the reason we have not been doing the things we wish or achieving the goals we desire is that we have lacked commitment. Commitment is indeed a large part of achievement, however it is not enough. If it was then the number of people you find in the gym would not soar over 500% between Jan 2nd and Jan 15th, and then drop down to normal levels by the end of January every year.
So if commitment is not enough, perhaps it is that we lack persistence. Perhaps people who are more successful in achieving their goals are more persistent. However, while goal achievers are indeed more persistent, that is not the cause of their achievement. Saying that we need to persist if we desire to achieve a goal does nothing to address the reasons WHY we struggle with persistence. Saying that persistence is linked to goal achievement is like saying umbrellas are linked to rain. They are often found together, however the umbrellas did not cause the rain.
Give up New Years Resolutions and replace them with this simple strategy:
So, if new years resolutions do not work then what are we to do? I have found that a very simple strategy works far better.
Instead of focusing on the new year, consider focusing on the next 90 days. This will not be nearly as exciting as dreaming about how your life could be different in a year’s time, however it will be more actionable and more realistic. Ninety days is just not that long of a period of time to achieve big things. It is, however, enough time to achieve important things. You may not be able to get to your ideal weight in the next 90 days, but you could begin a reasonable exercise routine. You may not be able to change your finances in 90 days, but you could set up and monitor your spending.
The beautiful thing about setting goals for the next 90 days is that you CANNOT dream too big. And in 90 days – guess what: You get to evaluate how you did. You have the opportunity to ask what worked and what didn’t and make adjustments for the next 90 days.
As a leader, you MUST get this right. You cannot ask other people to change and grow if they cannot see you changing and growing.
So, let make a new year’s resolution to NEVER again to set a new year’s resolution. Let’s start thinking about what we can do over the next 90 days.
Here’s to an amazing 3 months!
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