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New Year’s goals are for losers!

By Suzanne Kiraly - 31 December 2016 5

new-year-1898553_640New 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?

What’s Your opinion?


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5 Responses to
New Year’s goals are for losers!
1
Amy Birchall 4:07 pm
31 Dec 16
#

I read Scott Adams’ How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big a few months ago. The choosing systems over goals (and opting for knowledge over willpower) advice completely changed my approach to business and life.

A timely reminder to stop thinking things like ‘I will stress less in 2017’ and ‘I will spend less time staring at my computer screen’!

2
Maryann Mussared 1:41 pm
01 Jan 17
#

A most timely article and all excellent advice! Only this morning I was thinking about my ongoing battle with decluttering. I found an article that said not how to declutter, but what not to do when you are trying to declutter. The first point was don’t go out and buy a whole lot of storage containers if you don’t know how you are going to use them. So this morning I bought a packet of sticky labels and two fat marker pens, and now everything will go into boxes and everything will be labelled and I will have a list of those boxes, and I won’t buy any more storage stuff at Ikea until I have used everything I have already bought.

3
Maya123 5:47 pm
01 Jan 17
#

Maryann Mussared said :

A most timely article and all excellent advice! Only this morning I was thinking about my ongoing battle with decluttering. I found an article that said not how to declutter, but what not to do when you are trying to declutter. The first point was don’t go out and buy a whole lot of storage containers if you don’t know how you are going to use them. So this morning I bought a packet of sticky labels and two fat marker pens, and now everything will go into boxes and everything will be labelled and I will have a list of those boxes, and I won’t buy any more storage stuff at Ikea until I have used everything I have already bought.

Most of my house is closer to the minimalist side of the spectrum, rather then cluttered, but my desk wasn’t. Cluttered also often means dusty too, as it’s hard to clean if it’s covered in stuff; in my desk’s case, mostly lots of papers. To solve this clutter problem, I bought two decorative cardboard boxes from a cheap shop and yesterday I went through the papers on my desk, checking each one to see if it were needed. It turned out most weren’t, as the information had been transferred to my computer, or was dated. So, I filed some, put the paper that still had a blank side into my printer for use and put some of the papers into one of the boxes. MOST I was able to recycle. The other box I put odds and ends in. So, now a tidy and dusted desk with lots of work surfaces finally visible. I am still admiring it 🙂

4
Masquara 9:19 am
02 Jan 17
#

I think quoting a low-waged shop assistant’s sales goals, attempted from behind the counter in an oppressive context, as the saddest of sad examples for New Year’s inspiration. Couldn’t you think of something more inspired and “broader life”, fun, personal and interesting for poor Jane?

5
Suzanne Kiraly 4:08 pm
02 Jan 17
#

Masquara said :

I think quoting a low-waged shop assistant’s sales goals, attempted from behind the counter in an oppressive context, as the saddest of sad examples for New Year’s inspiration. Couldn’t you think of something more inspired and “broader life”, fun, personal and interesting for poor Jane?

Thanks for commenting, Masquara – but I think you misunderstood my intention in these two examples – both are for the business owners of retail stores – and nothing to do with lowly paid, exploited employees. (Jane is a business owner.)
I was trying to make the point that systems that are stacked towards better outcomes (in this case) customer experiences that will increase sales rather than just focusing on “hard-sell” techniques.

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