It’s that time of the year when people make their New Year’s resolutions. This is a tradition that has been going back farther than most of us can ever remember. I’ve made many New Year’s resolutions myself, only to fall flat as the year progressed. We make resolutions for all sorts of things, whether it’s to lose weight, to find a better job, or to get out of debt.
Why do we find it so hard to follow through on these well-intentioned plans? It happens at home and it happens in the business world as well. Most businesses are very good at creating plans for the future. They develop strategies and organizational charts and put new systems in place, but somehow the pain of the follow-through overwhelms our ability to succeed.
As important as long-range planning may be, sometimes may be better to dial it back a notch, to remember the human perspective. We need our goals, our plans and resolutions, to give our lives some alignment with who we want to become, either in ourselves or in business.
My mother was a heavy smoker for over 30 years. Three packs a day from the time she was in her teens. So often I remember her trying to quit and as many times failing. It was after an unrelated surgery that she had gone 24 hours without a cigarette for the first time in many years. That was when she started playing a little game with herself. She said “I’ve gone 24 hours without a cigarette, I’m just going to go one more hour.” An hour later it was “it’s now 25 hours and I’m just going to go one more hour.”
For her it was just too overwhelming to be thinking of the long term, to concentrate on quitting completely. So she built on her small successes, each hour being a victory in itself. These small victories added up and eventually fulfilled the dream she wanted but couldn’t come out and say.
We all have plans, some are small and some are grandiose. Our plans maybe for the next decade, they may be for this afternoon. Either way, we work towards fulfilling those plans one hour at a time.
By: Ed Wildeman