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Employment

New Year’s resolution: change one habit

I never really started New Year’s resolutions until this past year.

I would overwhelm myself with a list of items I would want to improve in either business or my personal life. My list would include a dozen or more items, and I wondered how I could get everything done. To add to the discouragement, studies often show that most people give up their New Year’s resolutions within a few months.

Thankfully, my work in business taught me how to realistically keep New Year’s resolutions.

One year while I was still in management in the newspaper business I put together a list of goals for the group of newspapers I oversaw. There were so many visions and possibilities I had that it was hard to actually focus on anything. So I narrowed down the list to just five basic goals to accomplish, and I determined to inform my team about those goals and to constantly focus on those goals.

Honestly, five goals was maybe a bit too much.

So when 2017 started, I decided to have only two New Year’s resolutions. To this point, I only kept one of them.

But the good news is that keeping that one goal has helped me develop a few other good habits, which I have also kept today. (The resolution that I kept and the other good habits I developed have to do with diet, exercise, and health. The point of writing this article isn’t about the habits I developed, but about how they worked.)

Changing habits can be extremely hard, and it’s very hard to change out of a bad habit. The good news is that it gets easier to keep a good habit when you really get started and believe you can keep it.

So this year for Christmas I asked my wife for an interesting book I saw on Amazon: “The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg.

Here is one good excerpt from the book, and it reinforces what I mentioned above:

“When people start habitually exercising, even as infrequently as once a week, they start changing other, unrelated patterns in their lives, often unknowingly. Typically, people who exercise start eating better and becoming more productive at work. They smoke less and show more patience with colleagues and family.”

The book talks about organizational change as well, mentioning examples of company or sports leaders who enact one change by focusing on one key area.

So for this year, I do plan on having a New Year’s resolution.

My advice with anyone who has goals or wants to change something in your business but can’t seem to follow through: develop one goal that is most important to you. Then double down on that one goal with intensity. You may find that you change other habits as well.

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