The problem with New Year’s resolutions

publication date: Jan 5, 2022
author/source: Kimberley MacKenzie, CFRE


Kimberley MacKenzie, CFREExercise everyday.

Lose thirty pounds before spring.

Stop eating red meat and white food.

Stop drinking alcohol.

Read more books.

Be more patient. 

Be a nicer person.

You name it I have said it. The first month of a new year is full of new ideas and optimism. But for some reason none of these big changes really stick. By the time March hits, like many of you, I am back to my same old comfortable patterns.

The same thing happens for many of us at work.

Get stewardship meetings with major donors.

Send out thank you letters within 48 hours.

Send the board package a full week before the board meeting.

Get to work half an hour early to read everyday.

Complete those performance reviews and set targets and deliverables for staff.

Of course all of these objectives personally and professionally are ideal. We want to be healthy, happy, productive, successful people. We know what it takes to do so.

The problem is that when we try to instantly create transformative change, failure is often inevitable. The stakes are too high. The change is too big. The timeline is too short. 

When I take a moment to think about working with organizations to create transformative results and my own personal growth, success has always been as a result of small incremental changes. Change rarely happens in one big moment. It is more likely to happen in thousands of little moments.

What if instead we try to, walk the dog everyday, avoid processed food or ask the kids to "gimme a minute" before responding to requests?

What if at work we try to spend fifteen minutes each morning making a list of four best practices you will make a priority that day?

In order for you to be successful this year, I encourage you to think about ways in which you can improve all aspects of your life with small, manageable, incremental changes all year long. Life is a marathon, not a sprint.

If you need further convincing to take it easy on yourself, check out this video of a super cute, highly scripted and heavily edited four year old. “Flush your resolutions down the toilet” and start taking advantage of the thousands of moments you will have this year to improve your results.

Kimberley MacKenzie is a former editor of Hilborn Charity eNews and a Change Management Consultant who helps a variety of charities get transformative results.


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