A New Approach to New Year’s Resolutions

January 7, 2019

In the interest of starting the new year off right, with a clean slate, I’ll make a confession. I’m a junkie. And since this article is being read mostly by marketing executives and communications professionals, I’m willing to bet that many of you share in my drug of choice. I’m talking about perfectionism. I just can’t get enough of self-improvement. If you can relate, then you know that the New Year, and the tidal wave of talk about resolutions, is both exciting and overwhelming. New Year, New You, right?

For me, resolutions have always had a negative connotation, but because I’m addicted to constantly bettering myself (along with my work, colleagues and the companies with whom I work), it was always impossible to let a January go by without an exhaustive audit of things I needed to resolve to improve. But the problem with resolutions is that they imply a critical need for change. And in that implication, all of the successes of past efforts, all of the things that are working now, lose their shine.

This realization first hit me in my personal life, when I recognized that while I want to instill a strong sense of ambition and work ethic in my children, I don’t want to burden them with the feeling that they must be in a state of perpetual change to be successful. I started thinking about how to embrace everything that is authentic and good, while also keeping a steady pace of progress and improvement. It was clear that I needed to modify (i.e. improve – see how that works!?) my entire philosophy on New Year’s Resolutions.

I wanted to find a way to stay true to my desire to continually improve myself, my work, my contributions to my clients, while taking the negativity of perfectionism out of the equation. And through that process, I found a solution that applies not just to perfectionists, or individuals, but to business strategy too.

One of the most effective ways to achieve change is through goal setting. We all know this, which is why goals are such a significant focus for professional development and business planning. So, two years ago, I proposed to my family that we throw New Year’s Resolutions out the window and instead spend our few days off over the holiday helping each other choose one goal and one wish for the coming year. The change was powerful. Through the eyes of my elementary-aged children, I saw how ‘goals and wishes’ were more exciting and motivating than ‘resolutions,’ which always felt like a sort of chore. Sure, some of the results of this exercise were silly (wishes for new pets like a Flemish giant rabbit and more time playing video games), but they were also revealing, encouraging and important (read more books, earn and save $1,000 from chores, be more present every day).

Since my family started this tradition, each of us has achieved each goal we set, and most of our wishes have come true as well. Somewhere between 80-90 percent of New Year’s Resolutions are abandoned by the second week of February (it’s similarly dismal in business – various figures report 75-90 percent of startups fail, and about half of IT projects stall within a year), so to me, the writing is on the wall. It may seem subtle, but intent matters, and the intent for ‘goals and wishes’ inspires. Exchanging ‘resolutions’ for ‘goals’ (not a slew of goals, but one or two meaningful, achievable goals) and ‘wishes’ (which can be a wild idea or something not fully within your control) enables constructive improvement and progress, without demanding extreme change or devaluing past achievements and present efforts.

As a business, imagine the results if you took a similar approach for strategy and planning (across communications, product development, sales, customer service, employee performance, etc.). Rather than hindering teams with complicated objectives and excessive resolutions, give them something singular and important to which collective efforts can map.

Need some inspiration? Here are a few on the communications front that you can try on for size…

Goal Wish
Deepen relationships with media and influencers that favor competitors Secure more coverage than competitors every quarter all year long
Conduct extensive and ongoing media training to polish spokespeople and increase opportunities for coverage and speaking Land a spokesperson appearance on national broadcast news
Relaunch and revive the brand and website Double influencer and customer engagement on social channels
Formalize and maintain an ongoing thought leadership program for top company subject matter experts Secure op-ed placement in top tier business outlet
Publish at least one results-heavy customer case study per quarter Increase evangelism and PR co-op with widely recognized customers
Implement data-driven campaigns, leveraging analyst research and proprietary surveys/market studies Earn coverage in USA Today

Though surely your planning is already done for the coming year, Barokas Communications would like to challenge you to rethink your stance on New Year’s Resolutions. Take these first few weeks back from the holidays to consider your goals and wishes for 2019, and explore ways to take this approach at work and in your personal life.

Need some help with your goals and wishes? Or interested in discussing this more? Get in touch with us here!

-Ashley, Barokas Communications Director of Content

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