Welcome to 2018. It’s a New Year in which we once again commit ourselves to eat better, sleep more, work smarter and read great books. Less social media time, more family time and perhaps for some, finally seeking out that dream job, starting your own business or connecting with a dream company. Either way, it’s an exciting time. Problem is, that enthusiasm quickly fades.
I’ve learned over the years to stop making “resolutions” and start seeking solutions. Resolutions are an intentional decision, period. Whereas solutions are answers to a problem. Let’s be clear, eating junk food, too much time on social media, putting off hard decisions, etc. are problems. Making the decision to change them isn’t necessarily the answer, it’s how to change them that brings your dreams to life.
So, you want to get in shape, great. You promise to hit the gym every day and stop eating sugar. By January 12th, it’s one cookie and two missed gym visits. With feelings of failure and being overwhelmed, all bets are off and by the end of the month you’re back to square one. Bottom line, it was too aggressive, not well thought out and likely an unrealistic expectation. As is true for most resolutions, they’re aggressive, not well thought out, and unrealistic.
This applies to huge career decisions. Let’s say you’ve been reading articles on how to start your own business. At the family Christmas dinner you share with your family, “I’m starting my own business!” Your traditional grandmother looks at you, you know that grandmotherly look, and says, “Why would you do that? You have a perfectly good job.” And then your younger brother pipes in, “Good luck with that.” None the less, you’re determined to make your New Year’s resolution come true. Problem is, you’ve not figured out just what that looks like and how to deal with the natural obstacles that will occur. Your resolution to start a business is already half over. What to do? Let’s review solutions versus resolutions.
Getting in shape. Everybody wants to, few do it. What’s the secret? Stop setting ridiculously high goals. Commit to 2 days at the gym and add 1 serving of vegetables each day for the month of January. In February, (after you’ve caught up from being gone for the holidays) kick your gym visits up to 3 visits per week and reduce your soda intake to 1 per day while increasing water to 2 glasses per day. See what I’m doing here? Small changes. Granted you may not notice a huge difference right away, but just by sticking to your plan, you’ll feel better and by summer, you’ll be in a much better place.
Let’s look at starting your own business. Great idea and it fills you with excitement. However, as someone who has started a business from zero, it’s a ton of work. Also, there’s this little thing called revenue and it doesn’t come right away. So, how are you going to support yourself until it does? And most important, does your business venture have legs? Find a mentor, talk to others who have done what you want to do and be prepared. Find the solutions to the potential problems (you won’t find them all) but you’ll be prepared.
The reason resolutions don’t work* is that they’re not well thought out, people often aren’t passionate about them, and the how is not considered and if it is, often it’s not realistic.
If you want to find success this year, look at the things you really want to do, you must really want it, and pick one. If it’s starting your own business, commit this coming year to research. Find a mentor and talk to similar businesses. If the fire in your belly is still burning after you’ve discovered the work necessary for success, full speed ahead!
If you want to get healthy (there’s a strong correlation between personal and business success when you exercise regularly), be thoughtful about it. Everyone wants to feel better, but rather than focus on the all or nothing approach, why not focus on what’s doable? It’s often lifestyle changes. Start small and build. Remember, you didn’t get out of shape in six weeks, it’s unfair and unrealistic to think you’re going to get back in shape in six weeks. Old habits die hard. Keep that in mind.
As you look forward to 2018 and the endless possibilities that await you, rethink setting resolutions and consider finding solutions to the problems that are holding you back. Only then will you be able to look back and consider it a year of success.
Happy New Year!
*Only 8% of people keep their New Year’s Resolutions according to University of Scranton and Forbes.