WHY WE BEGIN THE YEAR BY LOOKING BACK RESOLUTIONS VS. REFLECTIONS
Unless you root for a historically bad sports team like my Detroit Lions, the biggest act of wishful thinking you engage in every year is coming up with New Year’s resolutions. I mean, let’s be honest, how many people reading this create resolutions with any real forethought? And how many of those people actually stick to them? I’m guessing the answer to both of those questions is somewhere between “slim” and “none.” And yet, despite their resounding ineffectiveness, we still continue to make resolutions in the same old way. I say it’s time for a change. In our company, we’ve swapped out dime a dozen resolutions for something more meaningful. It’s an exercise I first read about from author and entrepreneur Timothy Ferriss. Ferriss uses something called “The Pareto principle” (or the 80/20 rule) to help kickstart his year. The rule states that 80 percent of the effects in a given situation come from 20 percent of the causes. If that sounds a bit academic in the abstract, let’s apply the example to business. According to the principle, 80 percent of your company’s results come from 20 percent of the actions you take as an organization. That’s true in both positive and negative directions. We use this principle to reflect on the previous year and set us up for greater success in the one to come.
“WHETHER IN YOUR PERSONAL OR PROFESSIONAL LIFE, I URGE YOU TO TAKE THE PROCESS OF GOAL-SETTING SERIOUSLY THIS YEAR. NOBODY NEEDS ANOTHER CHINTZY RESOLUTION, SO STOP MAKING THEM.” First, we take a look at the good news. We analyze the 20 percent of activities, processes, and systems that have accounted for 80 percent of our peak performance. We celebrate these wins and use them as fuel to inspire us to be even better. That’s one thing that resolutions miss out on: When you make a resolution, you start the year by asking what you need to fix. Pointing out areas for improvement is crucial, but it needs to happen in conjunction with recognizing what you’re doing well. Once we’ve acknowledged where we excelled in 2018, we look at the places where we weren’t so perfect. What was the 20 percent, we ask ourselves, where we really dropped the ball? We identify these areas of ineffectiveness and make fixing them a big priority in the coming year. Because we take the time to investigate the year that was, we end up with goals that both improve our weaknesses and burnish our strengths in the year to come. We don’t fire off resolutions on Jan. 1 as a matter of course or seasonal habit. That would only lead to goals that are abandoned and forgotten come March. Instead, we look back at the very best — and worst — of our previous 12 months. Only once our reflection is complete can we begin the process of goal-setting in earnest. Whether in your personal or professional life, I urge you to take the process of goal-setting seriously this year. Nobody needs another chintzy resolution, so stop making them. Try a different approach in 2019. I think you’ll be surprised what a difference it will make.
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