I have a confession to make. I’ve never made a New Year’s resolution. I think the idea is ridiculous, for a few reasons.
A resolution is usually something people should be doing in the first place, like eating right, getting more exercise, or quitting smoking. So why make a big show out of it? Why not just do it?
People who make these pledges are setting themselves up for disappointment. In a 2007 study by the University of Bristol, 88 percent of resolutions failed, despite the fact that more than half of study participants were confident they’d succeed.
That’s what bothers me the most — the fact that people seem to believe that choosing the arbitrary date of Jan. 1 (and perhaps declaring this intention to a few coworkers) is enough to guarantee they’ll be able to kick the nicotine habit or cut out carbs from their diet. But that just isn’t going to cut it. To make this type of lifestyle change, you need a game plan.
According to the aforementioned study, men were 22 percent more likely to achieve a goal when specific benchmarks have been established. For example, vowing to shed one pound per week is much more effective than simply stating, “I want to lose weight.” Women, on the other hand, succeeded 10 percent more when they made their goals public and received support from friends.
To me, that makes perfect sense. When I signed up for a spinning class a few years ago with my sister, I found I was much more likely to skip it if I knew she couldn’t make it. But if I knew she was going, I’d be there. And I can also see how making a blanket statement such as “I want to take a class” is pretty much useless, whereas giving yourself the deadline of Feb. 1 to register for an Italian cooking class or sign up for a photography seminar is far more likely to result in achieving that goal.
I thought about all of this while reviewing the results of healthsystemCIO.com’s December Snap Survey, which found that 59 percent of CIOs believe their organization accomplished the major goals they set for 2012. I think those results are very encouraging, particularly in light of the myriad challenges facing health systems today. It seems like CIOs are constantly being expected to do more with less resources. To see that so many are checking off major boxes on their to-do lists is a positive sign, and it’s one that needs to be acknowledged. Sometimes we get so caught up in the doom and gloom and the dire predictions that we fail to see how far we’ve come.
There was one comment from the survey that really stuck with me:
“We recently held an end-of-year, all-hands departmental meeting. As part of that meeting, each of our managers identified significant accomplishments of their staff and what they were thankful for. At the end of this, the entire room was somewhat in awe of all the things we accomplished over the past year. Our organization is under a lot of stress, and it is clear that our department has risen to the challenge.”
To me, that’s what it all comes down to. Is the organization in a better place now that it was last year? Did we accomplish what we set out to do?
These are the questions we all need to ask ourselves. Most of the time, the answer is yes. But if it isn’t, you need to establish a game plan to determine how you’re going to obtain a different result next year. Make sure your goals are achievable — preferably in increments that can be measured — and when it’s all done, acknowledge what you’ve accomplished and those who helped make it happen.
That’s the kind of resolution that even I can get on board with … maybe.
Happy new year to all of our readers, and thank you as always for your support!