It’s the new year. New beginnings. Time to leave “terrible 2016” behind and get on with fixing all that is wrong with you, your job, your life, your friends, and anything else you’d like to be different than it has been in the past, by making some New Years Resolutions! What a perfect time for a new beginning.
To this, I say “baloney!” That’s right, I said it. And I don’t take it back.
You see, I’m a believer in life-long learning and continued incremental investment, not revolutionary change as a rule. Revolutionary change is much harder to accomplish than ongoing incremental change, and even when it is accomplished, it is much harder for that change to stick. And so too is it true about New Years Resolutions.
By now you may have lumped me in with the grinches and haters of those who want to improve themselves and their situation and are taking this opportunity to do so, but please understand that I’m not trying to rain on anyone’s parade. If you’ve set a resolution for 2017, go for it! I hope you are successful! I’ll even be there to cheer you on! There are no grinches or haters to be found here.
But I’m also a numbers guy, and here are the stats from statisticsbrain.com about the actual success of New Years Resolutions:
45% - Percent of Americans who usually make New Years resolutions
8% - Percent of people who are successful in achieving their resolutions
49% - Percent of people who have infrequent success at achieving their resolutions
24% - Percent of people who never succeed and fail on their resolutions each year
NOTE: people who explicitly make resolutions at 10 times more likely to attain their goals than people who don’t explicitly make resolutions.
These are not compelling success rates, so maybe there is a better approach?
Geoba.se lists the average life span of a person in the U.S. as 79 years old for 2017. That means that on average we’ll have 79 News Years’ opportunities to make resolutions to materially change our lot in life. That may seem like a lot until you get to middle age (or later) and see that number dwindling down.
What if, instead of declaring meaningful resolutions only once per year, we tried to better ourselves on any given moment on any given day by making explicit measurable resolutions? With that approach, we’d have 28,835 opportunities if we counted by days or 692,040 if we count by hours or 41,522,400 if we counted by minutes! In other words, our opportunities to improve our lot in life are *almost* endless, it’s just that many of us don’t take advantage of them real-time as they occur. We wait, we lose time and opportunity, and we end up with outcomes in both personal and business lives that may not be where we would like them to be.
For this year and going forward, I challenge you to look at every minute of every day as an opportunity for an explicit, measurable resolution, big or small, private or public, for your personal or business life, in which you can decide to make a positive change. The change does not need to be an earth-shaking, mind-altering, mega-change, but at least an explicit, measurable, incremental change that will put you on the path to the upward track that you envision. Five or ten successful ongoing incremental changes over the course of every year will almost certainly cumulatively leave you in a better position than the one or two mega-New-Years-Resolutions that are likely to fail and are even less likely to stick over time.
So for 2017, I wish you all the best at work and at home, and however you approach change in your own life, I hope that it is more successful and more satisfying than you ever could have hoped.