By now, you’ve probably made your personal New Year’s Resolution. If you successfully started AND haven’t abandoned it yet, keep up the great work!
However, according to a 2020 study by OnePoll (and supported by Crispy Green), 80% of Americans will have given up on their New Year’s Resolutions by February 1st, with 68% giving up even sooner than that. Many think this is due to a general lack of self-control, willpower, or – well, “resolve” – on the part of the individuals who, each year, set their goals and then let them fall by the wayside.
But with consistent data this staggering, it begs the question: are we the problem? Or does the problem lie in the tradition itself?
I argue that it is a mix of both. The top three reasons identified in the study as to why New Year’s Resolutions fail were:
- General Lack of Discipline (52%) – people simply gave up because it was easier to do what they were used to doing;
- Too Busy/Hectic to Maintain New Routine (43%) – many people chose a resolution that required additional attention, time and energy, but assumed they’d manifest that capacity without reducing or eliminating something else from their lives; and
- Social Pressure (40%) – which I have to think is mostly the people who have already failed to keep their resolutions making it extra difficult for their closest friends and family to keep theirs simply so they can feel better about themselves.
Having this data can help us reconfigure the traditional “New Year’s Resolution” to support us in it through.
For example, a “general lack of discipline” could be improved by investing in and properly establishing appropriate tools to support your goals. Working from home and want to exercise more? Big spenders might find Peloton or NordicTrack fetching, but a simple yoga kit and a new yoga-specific YouTube subscription might do the trick. But is that enough? What about enlisting members of your network with a similar goal and interest to join you in the challenge? What about a fitness tracker or smart watch to not only show you what you’ve accomplished, but remind you to keep going? You need to plan to plan – a plan doesn’t just manifest itself. And considering the tools and resources available to support your plan will help overcome this obstacle.
Regarding a schedule that is too busy, I find that most people (including me) try to take on everything all at once. Continuing with the workout example, I’ll have spent the last 10 months not exercising at all and then suddenly try to exercise at least 5 days a week for at least an hour each time. Not only is this a shock on my out-of-shape dad-bod, but it becomes unsustainable as I try to keep up with everything else in my life. So, where do I find myself by February 1st? Back on the couch, waiting until January of the next year. By quantifying your end goal and setting milestones on your way to it, you can manageably scale up your resolution activities in smaller increments across the year and simultaneously taper off something you’d be better without. This translates into a schedule you’re more likely to maintain and, dare I say, thrive within.
Finally, when it comes to social pressure, there are many things you can do. My highest recommendation? Announce your New Year’s Resolutions to your family, friends, co-workers and others in your network before you’re confronted with the pressure to break them. Share your goal, approach, and how valuable it would be for your applicable network to give you their support. You’d be surprised at how many will support you, sometimes in ways you wouldn’t expect.
The irony here for me, after a tenure in various strategy and performance management roles, is that I’ve seen all of these tactics utilized by leaders and organizations to help them succeed in reaching their goals. Think about it – if you work in an organization that succeeds in meeting its goals, you probably have the following:
- you likely have organizational goals for the year, broken down into quarters and months;
- from those goals you set goals for different teams and staff members that are also broken down into smaller increments;
- you’ve codified the goals and shared them with the appropriate parties; and
- you’ve invested in, properly setup, and provided training on the tool(s) to support achieving those goals, including reporting on them in an easy, consistent, and understandable format.
Setting Goals in Security
The one exception I’ve found thus far, though, is in Corporate Security Leaders. This isn’t entirely their fault, as some of this relies in the nature of their work.
For example, a New Year’s Resolution often focuses on what people could do more of (e.g. exercising) or less of (e.g. eating junk food). But, for Corporate Security Leaders, they have a singular goal that is constant – “protect our assets” – which makes it difficult to breakdown in smaller, quantifiable milestones.
As a result, they normally keep their head down, not sharing their work or goals outside of “reducing risk” since it seems so self-explanatory (outside of the finer details, of course, which would lose anyone lacking risk management or security experience) and repetitive. They focus on continuing to do the same thing they have always done since they haven’t had a problem yet, but the first thing that happens when a problem occurs is termination.
Instead, Corporate Security Leaders could utilize the best practices to begin revolutionizing their work. In the Quill Security platform, they’re able to SET goals:
1. STANDARDIZE Set your facilities, security measures, and see how well you’ve been doing to date using the Quill Score – a standardized, quantifiable way of measuring how risk is managed.
2. ESTABLISH With this in mind, establish goal(s) and milestones across the year for your Quill Score and identify how each investment and team member fits into achieving that goal.
3. TRACK Give team members a platform that enables them to measure progress towards those milestones and goals while simultaneously helping prepare you, the Corporate Security Leader, to easily share your work and progress in a consistent and understandable format with your organization’s leadership.
So, whether you’re still working on a New Year’s Resolution – personal and/or professional – or given up already this year, these tips should help you either restart or continue your New Year’s Resolution in a meaningful way. After a year where so much was lost for so many, 2021 is the time to focus on keeping what you still have and gaining so much more.