Are New Years’ Resolutions Passé?

For the last week or so, I have read many articles in favor of and against the practice of new years’ resolutions. As you can imagine, many people make it an annual practice of declaring resolutions to: lose weight, exercise more, be nicer to their kids/spouses, get up earlier, etc. If you visit your local gym anytime during the next month or two, you will find it more crowded than ever … filled with all those folks who made resolutions. But those crowds usually die down quickly as the year progresses.

Frankly, over the years, I have vacillated between making resolutions, declaring my own personal theme for the year and—as a third option—doing nothing.

The whole process can be a bit self-defeating and discouraging because the resolutions seem to go by the wayside quickly.

So, this year I am trying something different. I am going to follow the practices of a long-time business consultant:

  1. During the last month, I have written out some goals for the year in the following areas:  physical/health, family, travel, personal and professional. Many of these items I already do and want to continue. Others are goals that are new or a stretch for me.
  2. I develop a list of measures for the goals. For example: under family, I want to spend “alone” time once a month with each of my daughters. For physical/health, I plan to do four cardio workouts a week and two strength training workouts. Each of these is easy to track.
  3. I purchased a monthly planner notebook that allows me to record my activities on a daily basis. I carry it with me to/from work each day.
  4. Most importantly, I have an accountability partner. My partner and I started discussing our goals at Thanksgiving and we each modified our own goals over the last month. We sat down on New Years’ Eve and reviewed each other’s goals for 2020. Because there are opportunities to do many of our goals together, we were able to adjust and modify our respective goals so they are in alignment.

I’ll bet you have a friend who wants to attend yoga a couple times a week with you, or a family member who also wants to see you regularly at family dinners. Or how about a close friend who wants to develop better habits in all the same areas that you do, but your specific goals are different? For me, having the monthly calendar where I can keep track of things gives me a sense of accomplishment when I can see in one place what I have done and that I have done what I said I wanted to do.

Having an accountability partner can actually make the process more fun! As long as you have a healthy relationship, not one that is too competitive or judgmental, sharing your goals and doing periodic check-ins is a gentle way to keep you focused and more disciplined.

My partner has been using this system of setting goals and tracking them for many years. He tells me that the real key is to have an accountability partner or partners (he actually calls them his “personal board of directors”). He shares his goals with them at the beginning of the year and checks in with them once a quarter to report his progress, and he asks them to challenge him when needed.

Just last night he gently asked me if I had been recording my goals on my monthly planning calendar (I admitted that I hadn’t been), and I pulled out my calendar and we walked through recording the last few days. I felt encouraged and supported about changing my habits and a sense of accomplishment that I had worked out the number of times I had committed to.

Well, this new habit applies to me in my personal life with my personal goals. But I can see the spillover effect into professional life as well.

As an example, if you work in a company, I’m sure they have a company business plan. And each department has its own plan, which rolls up into and supports the company business plan.

As a member of a department, you would have your own goals or an annual plan that you would discuss weekly or monthly with your manager. This personal/professional plan would support your department’s plan.

Remember a few months ago I blogged about “How you do anything is how you do everything”? Why not use the insights and good habits from your work and apply them to your personal life and vice versa?

And if you think I’m a little crazy to take my personal goal-setting to this level, then I must remind you of a saying I’ve often heard, “What gets measured, gets done.”

Try it!

And Happy New Year!

Karen