New Year’s Resolutions
Randy Wolken, President & CEO
Each year, millions of Americans make resolutions for the new year. Only eight percent are kept. In fact, eighty percent of New Year’s Resolutions are abandoned by February – just one month into the new year. Many people have stopped making such resolutions because of the dismal results they have personally achieved — which makes the mere eight percent success rate even more remarkable. So, why do people make such resolutions? People want to change their lives for the better.
If change is the desired outcome, then we do know what works. People who create habits instead of resolutions are successful at change. How do we know this? Because neurobiologists, cognitive psychologists, and other researchers have studied our behavior and have determined that up to ninety-five percent of what we do each day is a habit. We just do it without thinking. Therefore, if you want change to happen and occur repeatedly – make it a habit.
The key to establishing new habits is to learn how you best create them for yourself. Any simple habit is a good starter habit. One that works well for me is picking my top three “must do” tasks for each day – and a Most Important Task (MIT) from them. It takes me less than a minute to select them after reviewing my upcoming day. It takes me less than a minute to review them each evening. It makes the rest of my day more meaningful and productive. Not a bad return on a two-minute investment of time.
Of course, there is an endless list of habits you can implement in your life that would make you healthier, wiser, more productive, and happier. In fact, any activity you do can most likely be segmented into a series of mini habits you do each day, week, or month. Complex behaviors like project management and execution at work or getting fit in your personal life are just a series of mini habits. Again, up to ninety-five percent of what you do is a habit –isn’t that where we ought to begin with true change?
The other good news is that once you work on a habit it gets easier to do and you can do it much faster. For instance, in 2017 I started a weekly writing habit of 500 words for distribution to MACNY members (this email which comes out each Friday). Later in 2017, I expanded the habit to increase the number of words each day. I have since increased my word count even further. What used to take me an hour, now only takes me 30 to 40 minutes. This is the habit that allowed me to write my first book which was released in May 2018. How was I able to do this? I created stackable habits! Before discovering how I could use habits to change my daily actions, a dream of writing a book would have just stayed a dream. Instead, it became a reality.
I encourage you to make only one New Year’s Resolution this year. Commit to learning how to adopt new habits into your life. Start with one easy habit – and work your way into complex, multi-stage habits. They all work pretty much the same. However, once you know how to do it – you can change nearly everything you choose to do in your day.
If you could adopt just one new habit, what would it be? What would be an easy habit to start the ball rolling for you in 2023? What leadership habit could you adopt to help make you a more effective leader? Will you give yourself the gift of change this year? These are all good questions to ask as we start 2023.
Wishing you a blessed and prosperous New Year filled with the change – and new habits – you most desire!