I give it a ten for making me feel better! Now get back to work...
That New Year's Smell
Are lists and resolutions just another form of procrastination? What if you resolved to make no resolutions?
It's that time of year again-the beginning. Time for reflection and planning, lists on legal pads and goals in journals, "white boarding" and forecasts and spreadsheets. Time to envision a new year better than the old. It's time to take stock or, alternatively, buy some back. It's New Year's resolution time.
In honor of this hackneyed ritual of serial self-improvement I'd like to propose a New Year's resolution of the collective sort: A resolution to make no resolutions. (Insert audible gasp here.)
Yes, I hear you: new products must be developed, extra pounds shed, titanium widgets milled for just-in-time delivery,speaking engagements booked, websites updated, and smoking ceased. In short, business must continue to do business and businesspeople must resolve to improve. That's just the way it is. Otherwise, well...well, something very bad will happen. Exactly what, we don't know, but it's bad, very bad.
On the personal front, you write down such self-incriminating pledges as: procrastinate less, eat better, go to the gym, be a more attentive parent or partner and other countless versions of, "I would be a better/happier/more successful person if only I could fix 'insert judgment here.' "
And what if you happen to have the audacity to shun this annual opportunity for transcendence promised by this litany of resolutions? Well, I guess we'll deal with that when you get back from your inevitable, self-destructive bender-as an unrecognizable and pathetic shell of your former self, a certifiable failure, won't we?
Meanwhile, back at the office, your manager (you?) wants to know your plan for '09. Instantaneously, a cartoon thought-balloon floats above your head: "Geez, Boss, life goes by while you're making plans. I thought we would, like, just play it by ear this year. You know, kick back and see where the market takes us."
Realizing in a nick of time that this probably isn't a get-ahead, climb-the-ladder type of response, you mutter something about year-over-year increases in the 13 to 15 percent range, pending shifts in the marketplace as predicted by Jupiter Research and some Think Tank blah, blah, blah.... As the boss nods sagely and sips coffee, you log on to Netflix and add the movie "Office Space" to the top of your rental queue.
Face it: Writing it down doesn't get things done any more than not writing it down brings on Henny Penny scenarios. Writing it down could just as likely transform a benign foible into an obsession. But this urge to improve is as much a part of our DNA as the "back to school" productivity that surges through us each September-no matter how long ago it was that we held a freshly sharpened No. 2 Ticonderoga.
So you're a few pounds overweight, big deal. You're also a 47 year-old business owner who wears three hats, has two kids and works nearly 26 hours a day. Oh, and by the way, you don't delegate enough, you eat too much red meat and, well, you could be a little nicer, too. Now get back to work and have a Happy New Year.
Learn more about the author, Sean O'Connor.
Comment on this article
Posted by Sarah Johnson, Seattle, Washington |
Jan 01, 2009
Posted by Kate Phillips, Seattle, Washington |
Jan 01, 2009
I appreciate your point of view about resolutions sometimes being nothing more than judgments used to beat ourselves up.
Sometimes I wonder if part of the problem of resolutions is that people only make them once a year, rather than living consciously and choosing the life one wants step-by-step and day-by-day. You're dead on that it's only disemplowering to set the same goals year after year only to faithfully maintain the gap between where we are and where we say we want to be.
For me, I find it invalable to take time at year's end reflecting, giving gratitude, seeking perspective, and setting intentions and goals. These practices have moved me forward where I was previously stuck, and offered new direction when I was at a dead-end. I don't call them "resolutions," but perhaps they could be construed as such.
Enjoyed your writing style. Nice essay.
Posted by Darlin Gray, Seattle, Washington |
Jan 01, 2009
Great article Sean! Not because I agree with the entire principle, but because it helps me clarify my perspective and has given me something very interesting to think about.
I agree that we, as a society, tend to be more talk than action. But I also think that there can be something very helpful in being very specific in your desires and writing them down to remember where you're going.
Kate makes a very good point as well - living consciously and choosing your path is incredibly empowering, even though it can be difficult.
Thank you so much for such a thought-provoking essay. And Happy New Year!
Posted by Sean O'Connor, Seattle, Washington |
Jan 02, 2009
Thank you all for your generous comments. Happy new year!
Posted by Sue Oliver, Tacoma, Washington |
Jan 02, 2009
Great job -- lots of ideas to take into consideration and to the bank. Bravo!
Posted by Karen Floyd, Seattle, Washington |
Jan 02, 2009
You're really funny! I'm looking forward to reading more of your articles. I agree with Dan, You had me a Ticonderoga!
I personally don't make resolutions anymore since they were usually "shoulds" and I've learned that 'shoulding' myself is a kind of shaming and not very inspirational I might add.
I realized years ago that thoughts become things. Now I spend time imagining myself happy and prosperous and notice what it is I am doing and let that vision take root in me by affirming that it is already so.
For me, this is much more fun than setting a goal and hoping I 'make it'.
Happy New Year. 2009 is going to be miraculous I've seen it! hehe
Posted by Craig Sigl, Bellevue, Washington |
Jan 03, 2009
Sean, that was funny, thank you for the entertainment. I must disagree with most of the premise unless of course it was tongue in cheek. Writing down and/or making some sort of concrete declaration of your desires and goals is a self-improvement fundamental taught by just about everyone. Doing it only on New Years is sort of like folks who drink diet soda with their cheeseburger. Hmmm, no wonder why everyone is a few pounds overweight...I like New Years, my business goes up :-) Craig
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