New Year’s Resolutions: Why Not to Bother

This year try something different on New Year’s Eve: don’t make any resolutions. Why not? Well, they’re a feel-good distraction from what we really need to be doing. New Year’s resolutions give us comfort but they don’t help us change.

Maybe that’s harsh, but from where I’m standing it’s the truest thing I’ve ever written.

You see if we need an arbitrary date to get us to lose the weight, learn the language, focus on the promotion, then we have a bigger problem than the weight, the language, or the promotion.

And the bigger problem? That we’ve fallen out of the habit of leading ourselves.

Personal Leadership

That may sound daunting, but it’s what all resolutions boil down to. You want to lose weight? Then understand why the weight’s been creeping on the past few years. You want to speak French on your next holiday? Then do what you say you will when you say you’ll do it. And you want that promotion? Well, without judgement be genuinely curious about what’s holding you back at work. Then take a leap of imagination and start trying new ideas on how you can navigate around those obstacles.

All of these are behaviours that result from a leadership mindset.

New Year’s Resolution?

If developing a leadership mindset sounds like a New Year’s resolution to you then you’re missing one of the most important realisations about a leadership mindset. That we all have it already. You see, you don’t have to resolve to have one because a leadership mindset is the voice in your head that’s got you this far in life.

It’s the voice that knows how to make whatever you’re looking to achieve happen. And if it doesn’t, it knows where to find out how.

That Bigger Problem

I said if we feel the need to make New Year’s resolutions we’ve fallen out of the habit of leading ourselves. What I mean by that is this: having the need to make a resolution is our biggest clue that we’re ignoring that voice.

We do that for all sorts of reasons. Because we’ve crowded our lives with all kinds of busy that makes it hard or impossible to hear ourselves anymore. Because when we hear it we don’t believe we can achieve our biggest vision for ourselves. And because (closely related this one) we’re scared at the thought of trying.

So instead we play small. We offer all sorts of reasons for why we can’t do whatever we’re trying to achieve: we don’t have the time, the tools, the connections, the whatever. And thinking like that means we join the 92% of people who give up on their New Year’s resolutions.

A Habit Not a Resolution

What’s needed here isn’t a resolution – a slightly meaningless declaration that you’ll do something. What’s needed is a habit.

A leadership mindset is something you already have, remember. So what I’m saying is that same mindset that sets you in the habit of making sure you get to work on time, is the same mindset that can create a habit of making the change you’re looking to create.

The same mindset that makes sure you check your Facebook account can be repurposed to develop a network of people trying to lose weight or learn a language. The same mindset that enjoys the challenge of creating meals from a cupboard full of random ingredients can produce out of the box thinking on how to make the leap to the next level in your company.

That isn’t making a resolution. It’s about using the leadership behaviours you already have and taking a leap of imagination to applying them to truly leading ourselves.

How much of a leap you choose to take, well that’s up to you.

Author: Joe Britto

Joe is a psychological coach, writer, interactive consultant and founder of Innate Leaders. He works with a wide range of leaders from organizations including non-profits as well as the public and private sectors. His work focuses on creating long term sustainable change by developing a leadership mindset throughout an organization.

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