New Years Resolutions – Love or Hate them?

Personally I love and thrive on  goals, they focus my attention, provide a sense of competition when aspiring towards achievement and enable a form of measurement. Conversely I hate the whole notion of New Year’s resolutions! what’s the point in setting year long goals, once a year and in 99%* of cases abandoning them soon after the resolutions are declared publicly – bottom line I don’t understand why people set themselves up for failure, fail and repeat the process on an annual basis!

mynewyear*99% is my completely unscientific poll taken via asking the people I have enjoyed a wine or cider with since 1 January whether they usually declare New Years Resolution and whether they ever complete them, one person said they kinda completed one once hence the 1%.


Aren’t New Years resolutions just another kind of goal?

We were taught in school that goals need to be S.M.A.R.T (remember that mnemonic acronym) Specific, Measurable, Achievable (or Assignable when we become managers), Realistic and Time-Bound – an easy framework to employ that provides a to-do-list ready task style goal. I have blogged before with my Top 5 Goal Setting Tips, worth a read if you haven’t before.

New Year resolutions don’t tend to be S.M.A.R.T they tend to be employed as life changing nebulous statements of intent – like losing weight, quit smoking, eat healthier, get out of debt. Take this list from Forbes (5 New Years Resolutions that will change your life) as an example of resolutions that read to me more like a set of objectives for life, characteristics if you like – but with work could be translated into goals but as they are could equally easily be abandoned:

  • Smile morecalendar
  • Maintain a Health and Fitness Regime
  • Schedule Personal Time
  • Don’t commit to things you can’t do
  • Use your calendar

Is there a place for New Years resolutions in business?

2015, like every year, has elicited a raft of articles and blogs providing business owners lists of new year resolutions they should adopt. I know they are designed as easy reading for business owners, managers and wantrapreneurs and do serve to provoke thought on an area you should be focusing on such as marketing or risk but as described above they don’t provide a framework for achievement. Here is a short list of some of the more annoying posts I have come across this week:

Ok my 99%* abandonment rate statement may be over estimating – The University of Scranton (no idea who they are) told us it was 92% in 2014 based on an American study. Either way it would seem New Year Resolutions are unlikely to be achieved which would indicate hold no place in business. Businesses need to focus, focus, focus and as such need goals to support momentum.

What’s the alternative?

Sorry not offering a silver bullet here but based on our experience goal setting aligned with our strategy and objectives provides momentum and focus.

Team wise we employ a range of goal styles to focus our attention – Expert Goals for career and personal development, Sprint Goals for work product output and Big Hairy Audacious Goals in support of our strategy and objectives. Sitting alongside this we have regular competitions and challenges, these are used for fun (like our regular fitness challenges), to reinforce behaviour (like 100 happy days and complaint free) and to reinforce our goals (like my June blog challenge).

Breaking down the challenges into time-bound competitions – yes there is always a winner and a prize – keeps us focused and engaged and we have some fun along the way. Works for us, could use refinement like everything in a busy growing business so as ever let me know what works for you.

Happy sharing Vic.



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