As the Holiday Season comes to an end and 2017 starts, it is that moment each year when I look at myself in the mirror and admit that I have never ever managed to keep any of my New Year Resolutions. It’s no surprise…I know I am not alone. Nevertheless I seem to find myself pulled every year towards this bizarre ritual of telling myself that once the clock passes midnight on December 31 that I will stop doing something I shouldn’t be doing or start doing something I should be doing….
I have tried all sorts of resolutions. Often around coffee, alcohol, sleep, email, exercise, food, films and family – more or less, shorter or longer, better or funnier. No matter though…I never manage to keep any of them.
Over the years I have received much advice on what to do to keep my resolutions and why I fail. The answers seem to be deeply rooted….apparently I have failed because either ‘I have suppressed my cravings, haven’t adopted a role model, have (or is that haven’t) fantasized about being successful, or have relied on willpower alone’. More importantly, it would appear that all I have to do to succeed is ‘to break resolutions into smaller steps and reward myself when I achieve each step’. I should also ‘tell friends and colleagues about my resolutions, focus on benefits of success and keep a diary of my progress’. Sounds so simple!
In 2017 I am going to drink less coffee and less alcohol, sleep more, travel less, write shorter emails, drive safer, exercise longer, eat better food, watch funnier films and do all of these with my family! There. I feel better already. I will let you know how I get on in a year’s time…but don’t hold your breath!
This year for a change, I looked for a definition a resolution…a ‘course of action that has been decided on’. There we are then – nothing here about success, or delivery or achievement. If a New Year’s Resolution is simply ‘a course of action’ it’s no wonder they never work!
OK – how about promises? I know always keep my promises…‘an assurance’ given by me to someone else ‘agreeing or guaranteeing to do or give something in the future’. This helps explain why I keep promises. Invariably I make promises to family, friends or colleagues – people I care about and who care about me. I only make promises of significance and I only make them to significant people.
And last but not least, commitments? A commitment…‘the state of being bound emotionally to a course of action or to another person or persons’. Wow…being bound emotionally. That’s big. There’s no way out of this one. Commitments have both a sense of both responsibility and of accountability. A commitment both involves and signifies an investment by me in someone else.
Commitments are becoming more common. Many companies and leaders refer to use ‘Commitments’ extensively in both internal and external communications. For example, last year Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan made an ambitious commitment (supported by $3B over the next ten years) to help cure all disease.
So I like commitments much more than I do goals – and believe me I am a big advocate of goals. A goal is a purpose toward which effort is directed – and we all certainly put a great deal of effort into achieving our goals. But I just can’t get away from thinking about the power of commitments. Commitments based on sound beliefs and supported by consistent behaviour.
Once we make a commitment then everything starts….it just has to. Commitments launch action.
2017 here we come!