New Year’s Eve is the time when we set those annual New Year’s resolutions. My suggestion for this year – don’t!
But bear with me on this while I explain…
Let’s face it, every year people set goals that are most often to do with health (I’ll lose ten kilos), wealth (I will eat fewer smashed avocados on toast, drink fewer cappuccinos , so I can save more and spend less etc.), I will take more time for me (pursuing activities that make me happier), and occasionally (thank goodness), I will do more to help the environment, or the poor, or some other altruistic goal.
Then, we are taught to look at these general goals and turn them into SMART goals – an acronym that stands for specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-based. All is well and good so far…
Therefore, the goal “I will do more to help the poor” would translate into a SMART goal as in, “I will give $30 a month to Oxfam,” for example. This is better, and we can see it is indeed specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-based. “Consuming fewer smashed avocados and cappuccinos” to increase wealth, could be translated into “bringing my lunch and a thermos of coffee from home each day and thus, saving $30 per week” which you were spending on the coffee shop downstairs from work.
This looks much better, doesn’t it? But there is still a problem inherent in such New Year’s resolutions.
The problem is a significant one, and that is that most people fail – often even within a few days or weeks of the new year beginning – and so the vicious cycle goes on. I myself have fallen prey to such goal setting many times in the past, and failed – but no longer.
Let me suggest to you what you can do instead.
Those of you who know Scott Adams’s Dilbert cartoons will appreciate what I have to share with you here, in defence of my advice to you above. Having just finished reading Scott Adams’s book: ‘How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life’, I am now looking at life and goal setting through a different lens as New Year’s Eve is upon us.
According to Scott, “goals are for losers” and “systems are the better option”. Actually there are many little gems of wisdom he shares in his book, but this one was by far the most impressive for me – and what’s more, I also realised that it falls in line with Buddhist philosophy that emphasizes the “simultaneity of cause & effect“.
For my business readers as well, Scott says that “successful people don’t wish for success; they decide to pursue it. And to pursue it effectively, they need a system”. And also, “if you learn to appreciate the power of systems over goals” you might find that the journey to success becomes more worthwhile.
Breaking it down to its simplest terms, let’s see how it could work. If you were to place a bet on which retailer would be more successful, whom would you pick?
- Retailer Fred: “I will sell 100 widgets in 6 months.” (SMART goal)
- Retailer Jane: “I will give the best customer service I can, go the extra mile with the display and music, as well as make my customer experience the best it can be, each and every single day.” (Systems oriented)
So, this year look at your New Year’s Eve resolutions through the lens of a systems-based approach.
For me as a writer, my 2017 resolution is a simple system, that I know will increase my success, my satisfaction, and my happiness – it’s to: “write more, and consume less”. Not an easy one for me, as I am addicted to learning and get my fixes from the internet every single day – but one I know will make a difference if I pursue it regularly through a little discipline and focus.
What about you – what will you be pursuing in 2017?