Happy New Year. Now drop all of your New Year’s resolutions!


I wish all the readers of this blog a spectacularly happy 2008. And I believe that one of the best way to get yourself just that, is to NOT make any new year’s resolutions.

Steve Shapiro says it best:

Once again it is that time of year when we look forward into the new year. We set our resolutions. Lose 10 pounds. Stop smoking. Get out of debt.

Unfortunately, most resolutions are about fixing what is wrong with you rather than bringing pleasure into your life.

In addition, most resolutions are target- and time-based goals (e.g., lose 10 pounds by the end of the year). These just set you up for failure. It’s no surprise that according to a survey of mine, only 8% of people are successful in fulfilling their resolutions.

And those who do achieve their resolutions are often no happier. When you focus on a target-based resolutions, you are focused on the future rather than the present. As a result, you miss the “hidden” opportunities around you, and miss out on the joy of every day life.

Steve, author of the excellent book Goal-Free Living, has a much better idea: Set yourself a theme for 2008. How is a theme different from a resolution?

  1. Having a theme for the year is about setting a general direction you want to move in. It’s not about having specific goals.
  2. A theme is something you want to achieve. Most resolutions are about something people want to avoid.
  3. With a theme, you can’t fail. With resolutions, you’re almost certain to fail.

Go check out Steve’s excellent post on this topic, which also has a video of him presenting the idea in a TV interview.

I heartily recommend having a theme for your work life in 2008. And I definitely recommend themes that have something to do with enjoying work more. But then I would, wouldn’t I? :o)

What about you? What might your theme for 2008 at work be?

11 thoughts on “Happy New Year. Now drop all of your New Year’s resolutions!”

  1. Happy New Year to everyone in Copenhagen. I had a fantastic time there back in October 2007. And I do have one goal-based resolution this year: I want to return to Denmark in 2008! Hope to see you soon. Steve

  2. Steve: Interesting – getting you to Copenhagen again in 2008 is one of my goals too :o) Not to mention getting to Boston myself!

    Sridhar: Congrats on the move to Vancouver. I hear it’s a great city.

    And those are some great themes. Here’s a question: Is there a way to get the job to align to you, rather than the other way around?

  3. How about changing the way we view time to get more benefit from it? It’s inevitable at this time of year that people focus on managing their time better. Making better use of our time is a very popular resolution, and quite rightly so, although we shouldn’t lose sight of other ways of considering time management. New year “stocktaking” or planning should be about reviewing how we manage the quality of our time, not just the quantity.

    We’ve written about approaches to “kairos” and “kronos” time in our article: http://www.the-happy-manager.com/what-is-time-management.html. Managing the latter to optimise the former is the real benefit of time management, and a worthy new year theme!
    Happy New Year to all.

  4. I’m moving to my new job at Vancouver on March, 2008. My theme for 2008 at work is to align my interest/passion along with the organization goals – so that I will end up being more satisfied (because no sane organization would act on contrary to its goals)

    I also have 2008 resolutions: to walk 20 minutes daily (and run twice a week); read “Fit for Life” and eat healthy; be organized (ZTD). They are “ongoing goals” – so fits well with Shapiro’s goalfree approach, I hope. :-)

  5. > Is there a way to get the job to align to you, rather than
    > the other way around?

    Good question. There are several teams working on several (computer programming) projects. There are three ways in which I can get the job align with my interests,

    1. Do the “current” project happily and introduce desirable changes (within practical limits) inside it – For example, automate certain tasks instead of manually doing it repeatedly; introduce a better technology that gets the job done productively (I like doing both).
    2. Once I join the company, as time goes and based on experience, I’d get to know which team would best fit my passions – and then join them for my second project.
    3. And/or, come up with my own project idea and pursue it.

    Of course, there could be several other opportunities.

    Nevertheless, my intent is to enjoy what I do (and literally give no place for negativity – which only kills happiness).

  6. This is great! I was talking about this very thing yesterday with my wife. I just turned 30, and I set a theme for my 30s….adventure. I plan on using this year to kickoff a decade of adventure. Learning to SCUBA, driving the mongol rally (www.mongolrally.com), heli skiing, travel, etc.

    And….my work theme for the year is certainly to expand creativity.


  7. Many of us try setting New Year goals only to be disappointed because we don’t live up to our new standards. I agree that we shouldn’t set any goals and instead create a theme.

    My theme is finding the joy in every moment. I know that it’s there, I just have to take the time to appreciate it.

    What is your theme for 2008?

  8. Feliz a~o nuevo! Happy New Year! May 2008 be blessed with health, friendship and love! We just need to add ourselves the happiness at work!
    The theme idea I believe to be an excellent one, I personally quit smoking a month ago and I feel great! So that is no longer a resolution, so the theme is to be a little more sporty perhaps, that could be my theme, sports! Because now that I have quit smoking I have to move myself a little more.
    As for the work theme I believe I am going to try to implement the FISH! Ideology-theme, I read part of the book during Christmas and I loved it, I thought of you Alex, about the things you tell us here and I just could not wait to let you all know about it!! It is definitely very recommended reading! I am starting on your book tomorrow Alex as I had said before.
    I will keep you posted on the job interviews, I have applied to other departments at work, and if that does not work I have applied elsewhere too so, I am pretty sure that 2008 will be a wonderful year!

    (“Fish” by Stephen C. Lundin, Ph. D., Harry Paul and John Christensen, published by Hyrion, New York)

  9. The new work theme for many should be to quit doing what they did last year to achieve success, especially if they didn’t meet their career goals. If you study promotion, raises, bonuses, training and productivity over the past couple of decades, you’ll see that they are all declining to give way to bigger profits for shareholders. How does this impact the workers? They get a big NOTHING, even though they are more productive (MIT study by Eric Rausch) and working longer hours (20% more according to the Wall Street Journal).

    So if workers think they same things that would get people promoted in the past are sufficient for this year, such as worker longer & harder and more education, they are in for the same success they’ve been getting in the past.

    The new theme for 2008 should be that they’ll subscribe to new ways for a new year. Novelty has a way of making things brighter. Also, subscribing to a team based approach to achieving your career dreams is the best method. Competing in a time where competition is fierce, the corporate landscape is constantly changing, and the rules of the game change is often as the leadership does, having a team fight for you will ensure you not only survive the plethora of organizational change but surpass as others through the most efficient and effective method of perception management. The method is very effective and will be published in book form this year.

    Happy New Year and let me know how I can help you achieve the best in 2008.


  10. I definitely believe that having a theme (or strategy) is a much better way to handle 2008. My theme for work would have to be:

    Do, Regardless of Desire.


    Do Filing, No Excuses.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.