December 26, 2009
New Year’s Eve is just around the corner. Many of you know that I have a tradition of setting a “theme” for each year rather than a resolution.
My theme for 2009 was “cool things.” And it definitely was a year of cool things.
I signed a 2 book deal with Penguin’s Portfolio imprint. I became InnoCentive’s Chief Innovation Evangelist. I had many wonderful trips to cool places, including several to London and Copenhagen. And I got to speak at some very cool events like the Global Creative Leadership Summit and the FT Innovate conference. Most important of all, my family remains happy and healthy.
I’m not sure what my 2010 theme will be yet, but I know great things are in store.
If you have not done so, please read my article on setting New Year’s Resolutions.The article explains the 6 steps for setting a theme, including “Choose a broad theme rather than specific measurable goal.” Excerpts of this article have appeared in over 300 newspapers around the world, including Costco’s Magazine.
You may also be interested in some statistics about New Year’s Resolutions. Here is a highlight of some of the statistics:
Only 8% of people are always successful in achieving their resolutions.19% achieve their resolutions every other year. 49% have infrequent success. 24% (one in four people) NEVER succeed and have failed on every resolution every year. That means that 3 out of 4 people almost never succeed. Regardless, there is no correlation between happiness and resolution setting/success. People who achieve their resolutions every year are NO happier than those who do not set resolutions or who are unsuccessful in achieving them.
Happy New Year!
February 25, 2009
I recently sent a copy of my Goal-Free Living book to someone I worked with 20 years ago. I hadn’t seen or heard from him since the late 80′s. The wonders of social networks reconnected us after all of this time. After reading the book, he wrote the following…
The time is right for your message. A lot of people have to reflect on where they are, and where they are going. It helps to know the difference between a goal and an aspiration. In an earlier message to you I said that I consider myself goal-oriented. Thinking about your points, however, I guess I am more like a river person. I have aspirations, and they lead me to some really unexpected but very satisfying destinations. Like you say: it is important to seek out adventure.
Since becoming unemployed in December, I have had a number of chance meetings and interesting ideas. One led to a volunteer project resulting in a very successful fund-raising event. Another is an invention that I am working to patent. Two other ideas are being developed into business plans, with prospective backers for one of them already. That might lead to something else entirely. I don’t know where I’ll be or what I’ll be doing in six months. That’s kind of scary, but I am optimistic that it will be good, so I am also very excited.
Today’s crisis is causing people a lot of pain and concern. Financial security is eroding. Job security is vanishing. As a result, “happiness” seems to be at an all time low.
February 18, 2009
My book, “Goal-Free Living,” provides counter-cultural perspectives on goal-setting. I suggest that we are a nation of goalaholics, and that this is reducing creativity, productivity, and happiness. Harvard Business School recently published an interesting paper, “Goals Gone Wild,” that supports my perspective.
The authors say…
In this article, we argue that the beneficial effects of goal setting have been overstated and that systematic harm caused by goal setting has been largely ignored. We identify specific side effects associated with goal setting, including a narrow focus that neglects non-goal areas, a rise in unethical behavior, distorted risk preferences, corrosion of organizational culture, and reduced intrinsic motivation.
Rather than dispensing goal setting as a benign, over-the-counter treatment for motivation, managers and scholars need to conceptualize goal setting as a prescription-strength medication that requires careful dosing, consideration of harmful side effects, and close supervision. We offer a warning label to accompany the practice of setting goals.
I couldn’t have said it better myself.
December 30, 2008
In just a matter of hours, 2009 will be upon us. If you have not done so, please read my article on setting New Year’s Resolutions. You may also be interested in some statistics about New Year’s Resolutions.
Happy New Year!
December 11, 2008
This article was originally published December 2008
Early this week I received an email from a researcher at a major national TV talk show. They are doing a show on New Year’s Resolutions and saw my article on the topic.
They wanted to know if I had more details on the statistics referenced in the article.
I went back to the research we did with the help of Opinion Corporation of Princeton, NJ, and found the following interesting tid bits. The survey has a margin of error of 3%.
- 45% of Americans usually set New Year’s Resolutions; 17% infrequently set resolutions; 38% absolutely never set resolutions.
- Only 8% of people are always successful in achieving their resolutions. 19% achieve their resolutions every other year. 49% have infrequent success. 24% (one in four people) NEVER succeed and have failed on every resolution every year. That means that 3 out of 4 people almost never succeed.
- Of those who do set resolutions (these add to more than 100% because some people set multiple resolutions):
- 34% set resolutions related to money
- 38% set resolutions related to weight
- 47% set resolutions related to self-improvement or education
- 31% set resolutions related to relationships
- It appears that the younger you are, the more likely you are to achieve your resolutions
- 39% of those in their twenties achieve their resolutions every year or every other year
- Less than 15% of those over 50 achieve their resolutions every year or every other year
- The less happy you are, the more likely you are to set New Year’s Resolutions. This is especially true for those who set money-related resolutions: 41% are not happy, 34% are moderately happy, and 25% are happy.
- And here’s the punchline – There is no correlation between happiness and resolution setting/success. People who achieve their resolutions every year are NO happier than those who do not set resolutions or who are unsuccessful in achieving them.
What Does This Really Mean?
Of course numbers only represent averages and do not reflect on YOUR personal situation. However, there are a few questions you may want to ponder as we inch closer towards New Year’s Eve:
- What kind of New Year’s Resolutions do you typically set (money, health, self-improvement, or relationship-oriented)?
- Why do you set these particular resolutions?
- What do you hope to gain by achieving these resolutions?
- What will you do to be more successful (than the typical person)?
- Do you believe you will be happier in a year if you are successful in achieving your resolutions? If so, be aware that this is rarely the case – your attitude is more important than the results.
- And finally, what could you do to improve your level of happiness TODAY, rather than believing your happiness lies in the future?
New Year’s Eve is just around the corner. This year, instead of looking forward to what you want, spend your time reflecting on what you have. This is especially important during these troubling economic times. Listen to a brief MP3 I recorded on the topic of “Wanting What You Have.”
And if you do set a resolution, set a “theme-based” resolution rather than a “goal-based” resolution. This will increase your level of happiness AND participation in the coming year.
I am formulating my theme for the New Year now.
What will be your theme for the New Year?
P.S. If you want to give a great gift that will change the life of a loved one, be sure to check out Goal-Free Living. If you want signed copies, use the contact button above. We can make the book out with a personal inscription.