Try Skipping New Year’s Resolutions in 2013

Try Skipping New Year’s Resolutions in 2013

Why New Year’s resolutions are a set up for failure, what you should set instead, and how to have a meaningful and productive 2013.


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  • R Cook December 21, 2012 Reply

    I’ll bet you will continue to be a popular source of bull because you tell people what they want to hear. What about having goals to be kinder, more ethical, more genuine? Less materialistic, competitive, aggressive, greedy, selfish, etc? But then you wouldn’t get to be popular and well paid, or get to continue to lead all the delusional folks that listen to you give advice like someone who is a trained psychotherapist, which you are not. Stick to your field- it is business right?

    • A Cubillos December 23, 2012 Reply

      I disagree with your point of view. In my perspective Peter suggests a different way to look at goals: Not to focus on the result but on the behavior that will lead to that result. And that focusing on the behavior you will get lasting results in an ethical way.
      It’s a different way to take care of your goals, maybe for some people this will not work, but there are a lot of people, all over the world that this kind of advice will help them to get their professional and personal goals.
      A goal is something abstract and we need to realize that our “companies”, “customers”, “communities”, “partners”, and so on, are made of people, and that we are all different and that’s why we need different tools to lead their/our behaviors to get the results that we want to achieve.
      BTW as a people manager and now as a business owner, I don’t think that you have to be trained as a psychotherapist to run a business or a family in a successful way. But you have to understand that you are dealing with people not with abstract entities.

    • Phil Dourado December 24, 2012 Reply

      Actually, Peter is talking about business, as well as personal goals. There’s a lot of research that business goals, for private and public sector organizations, distort activity to hit the target or goal at the expense of other unmeasured but vital activity. A Deputy Governor at the Bank of England coined something called “Goodhart’s Law”, which states that any statistic, if you put downward or upward pressure on it by adapting your activities, will move. In other words, you will hit your target, but often by distorting activity in unintended ways. In the UK, there are ‘waiting targets’ for Emergency Departments in hospitals. The aim is to stop patients waiting so long for treatment. Some hospital management boards, to hit their targets, instructed ambulances to wait in the car park with the patients still in the ambulance, because the clock on the ‘measure’ didn’t start ticking till they came into the building. Even Jack Welch, the most successful CEO of the past generation according to many, says if people hit their numbers but break your culture, don’t behave according to your values, fire them because they are toxic. And, as Peter says, behave the right way and work on ‘areas of focus’ and the numbers will shift to go in the right direction. Targets and goals have their place. But a ‘goal-centered’ or ‘target centered’ organization often focuses so hard on the proxy reality of the target or goal that as the ‘real’ reality of the business environment changes around them, they aren’t flexible enough to adapt to it.

  • eric December 21, 2012 Reply

    Here’s a dharma doodle to go along with your teachings about the damage of goals and resolutions
    http://www.wisdomheart.org/for-peter-bregman/

  • Georgia December 21, 2012 Reply

    Hi Peter,

    I really enjoyed your interview (not just because it was a little feisty!) and I agree with your argument, despite having set three goals for next year!

    While I realise you we’re questioning the effectiveness of setting goals altogether…. If I might question the evidence on the effect of writing things down:

    While the famed Harvard and Yale studies on the power of writing goals don’t have any proof, a similar study has since been carried out by Dominican University, which indicates the following techniques improve goal success: accountability, commitment, and writing down one’s goals. More details here: http://sidsavara.com/personal-productivity/fact-or-fiction-the-truth-about-the-harvard-written-goal-study

    As for my goals….. I did used to set goals like lose 5 kg… But after failing, I’ve changed my approach. My goals are now focused on specific actions:

    - do 5 exercise sessions per week
    - prepare 5 outfits for the coming work week on weekends
    - record my expenses for the first 3 months of 2013

    I also have a “check in” buddy who I will have to email each Monday morning to confirm I’ve done those three things in the week prior. Otherwise I will have to donate $5 to a cause I hate and am morally opposed to (yet to be decided).

    I’ll be interested to hear what you think.

    Thanks,
    Georgia

    PS: I got the sense the interviewer felt uncomfortable about her lack of knowledge on the subject, and couldn’t believe you were modifying what you’d said in your previous interview…seeing it as a sign of weekends rather than courage and commitment to getting to the nub of the matter. Her patronising “wishes” for you at the end of the interview came across as passive aggressive and an expression of her disapproval/inadequacy. No need to respond directly to this, but I just wanted to give you a viewer’s perspective.

  • Georgia December 21, 2012 Reply

    *We’re = were
    *Weekends = weakness

  • Cynthia R December 22, 2012 Reply

    Gosh, Peter, I am such a fan of yours! I practice the ’18 Minutes’ most days and have given your book several times over as gifts to others.

    So when I saw the title of the video and, having recently read and watched similar from Leo Babauta, I wanted to watch immediately…and so I did.

    However, I didn’t watch very much. I was chagrined to see that you were appearing via FOX. I absolutely will not watch or support FOX in any way because of the lack of quality of their journalism and their apparent lack of ethics in the recent election.

    I hope that you’ll choose better partners in future–or give it a miss and just send out your ideas. I like your ideas! I’m very disappointed, however, that you have elected to share them via FOX. It cheapens your brand, in my opinion.

    p.s. I also like R Cook’s ideas about ethical, genuine goals. Of course, I think it’s up to each person to choose their goals and what they believe in. Or did you make your talk more pointed at the imagined audience perhaps? Oops.

    • Peter Bregman December 22, 2012 Reply

      Hi Cynthia – I am on Fox Business news pretty regularly – though my politics don’t coincide with what they’re traditionally known for and I believe that comes through in my interviews.

      The truth is, I think it’s really useful to have my voice talking to the Fox audience. I like speaking to varied audiences – I’m also on CNN – and I don’t like to rule anybody out because of their politics. Also, I think there’s a big advantage to speaking on a platform like Fox – people who might not normally be open to what I have to say will be more disposed to listen openly. That, in my view, is at least as important as speaking to people who already agree with me. Especially in a world where loyalties are so divided and there’s so much fighting.

      That’s my current thinking anyway – I may change it though :-)

  • April December 23, 2012 Reply

    Hi Peter!
    I want to say thank you for all your insights every week, and for this timely gem! New Year’s Resolutions have been a tough spot for me as for most people, yet it seems wrong to say, “Ah, the heck with it!” I want to have an area of personal development to show for my year at next New Years so I really appreciate this focus approach. I have my copy of 18 minutes and downloaded my focus worksheet so I am all ready!

    Happy holidays and happy New Year, Peter!

  • Liz J December 24, 2012 Reply

    Peter,
    As a regular reader/viewer of your work, I offer this as a fan. The interview was painful to watch, the interviewer seemed uncomfortable, and perhaps this topic wasn’t the one to highlight her intellect. It was more like Dr. Phil than what I have come to expect of as your smart, insightful”brand”.

  • [...] areas to suffer as we attempt to game the system to meet the goal. In fact, it can even lead to unethical behavior. Think about the lawyer whose goal is “more billable hours” who achieves that by either letting [...]

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