Fri, May 24, 2024

Tie to your ‘Why’: A guide to achievable and satisfying resolutions

Welcome to the start of the New Year! Many of us see this as a time for new beginnings, and therefore, we often choose the start of the New Year to resolve and to do things differently. Hence, many of us make “New Year Resolutions” related to ourselves, our businesses, careers, and personal lives. Unfortunately, those resolutions are typically not kept. According to Ohio State University’s Fisher College of Business, only about 9% of people succeed at keeping their resolutions, while 23% of people quit their resolutions by the end of the first week of the New Year and 43% quit by the end of January. Such abysmal results clearly indicate that resolutions can be difficult to maintain. So, the purpose of my first column of the year is to provide you with some guidance as to how to develop your resolutions, so that they can be more achievable and satisfying.

Probably the most important element of an achievable and satisfying resolution is that it be tied to your “why.” The concept of your “why” has been developed and popularized by leadership expert and author, Simon Sinek, in a pair of books and one of the most viewed TED talks. Very simplistically, your “why” is your motivation and/or purpose that provides your life with fulfillment and meaning. In order for you to maintain your resolution, your chances for success are much higher, if that resolution ties back to your motivation and purpose in life. I have definitely found this true in my life.

As some of you know, I received my undergraduate degree at the University of Notre Dame. Therefore, I spent four years on the Notre Dame campus as I was entering early adulthood. At an important age in my development, I would often pass by or enter a door to Notre Dame’s on-campus Basilica of the Sacred Heart that had the words, “God, Country, Notre Dame” inscribed above it. Those words were put there after World War I to honor those from the Notre Dame community who had died in the war, but they are also there to remind those in the Notre Dame “family” of their purpose related to their faith, their country, and their university. While I still love Notre Dame, I adjusted those words to help develop my “why” as “God, Country, Family, and Community.” While I have primarily used this why to help me make important decisions in my life, I have also found that when I resolved to make changes, those changes were most likely to take hold if I was making them for reasons tied to my “why.”

For instance, like many others, I have often had resolutions to lose weight and exercise more.  However, I had little success in these areas until I tied them back to “why.” While my military assignments were mostly in the “white collar” Air Force, in which I had more business and teaching duties rather than “war-fighting” responsibilities, the Air Force still required me to meet their weight and fitness standards. Therefore, to continue to serve my country, the resolution to lose weight and exercise more were absolutely necessary. After I retired from the military, I found that those resolutions were motivated by my family’s “why.” In order to remain in good health to support and be with my family, controlling my weight and maintaining physical fitness again became important. Being motivated by the things most important to me enabled me to keep resolutions that were difficult.

While I believe that tying your resolutions to your “why” is the most important thing you can do in order to make your resolutions achievable and satisfying, I do have a few other tips for you as you develop resolutions:

Make your resolution part of your regular routine: Early on in your resolution, you are going to have to be obsessive about it. Make sure you address it every day you can. Just like anything else, after a while, it will become a habit.

Make your business/career and family/personal resolutions complementary, not conflicting: Oftentimes, when making resolutions, we make business/career-related resolutions that are in direct conflict with others we make related to our family/personal resolutions. This is another reason to go back to your “why” to help you determine which resolution should take precedence.

Include others in your resolutions: There are multiple ways in which others can participate in your resolutions. One common way is to have an “accountability partner” who helps you stay on track with your resolution. Another way is to turn your resolution into a fun competition by challenging a friend as to who can maintain his/her resolution the longest. However, the most impactful is incorporating others in a way that your resolution demonstrates assistance and/or gratitude toward others. Hopefully, this will also be consistent with your “why.”

As we all know, keeping resolutions can be a challenge. I hope by focusing on your “why” and providing you additional tips, your resolutions for 2024 will be both more achievable and more satisfying! I hope all of our ABD readers have a blessed new year!

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