Do the Most Successful People Waste Time with New Year’s Resolutions?
Maybe that title isn’t fair. I mean, is that leading my audience? I am not actually against making resolutions. In fact, I create a list every year. The reason they never work for me is that I set the list aside and find it years later, untouched. I think there are 2 major components to making New Year’s resolutions work.
2 MAJOR REASONS NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS
1. People get all excited, make a big list of ways to improve their lives, and then lose the list after it’s written. If you want to actually do the stuff on the list, you have to keep it in front of you and look at it daily!
2. If a person really wants to, I don’t know…learn to ski, write a novel, audition for “The Voice,” get straight “A’s,” or lose weight, does he or she really have to wait until January 1st? I mean, come on. If you want to change your life for the better, just do as Arthur Ashe once famously suggested: “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”
*In case you’re wondering who Arthur Ashe is, he was a badass pro-tennis player who set all kinds of records.
But let’s see what some of the biggest game changers in modern history think about setting New Year’s goals.
Ø MARK ZUCKERBERG: Well, at least since 2009, Zuckerberg has been making public resolutions for things like wearing a tie every day for a year, learning Mandarin, become a vegetarian or eat only meat that he kills himself, etc. His most interesting one (IMO) was for 2017. He wanted to meet someone from every U.S. state. Most recently, Zuckerberg decided to stop issuing annual public goals. Bummer. He’s opted instead to focus on the whole 2020 decade. I doubt he predicted COVID-19, though, so we’ll see how (or if) that changes his predictions and plans.
Ø STEVE JOBS: Have you heard about the infamous Starbucks napkin he left behind when he got called out of the restaurant in a hurry? You can see the napkin here, but I don’t know if it was all a gag, or what. From what we know about Jobs, is it like him to be so careless as to leave something as personal as your New Year’s resolutions in a very public space, accidentally? Hmm. Either way, it shows he did think about ways to enter into a new year with ways to improve his life, his work, and himself.
Ø DONALD TRUMP: Like him or not, the guy has proven over and over that he is someone who gets s%&$ done. He’s one of the richest people on the planet (making the Forbes 400 list every year), and has achieved the highest office in the world. So let’s see whether he makes resolutions. Well, at the start of 2020, he said, “I don’t want to say what my resolution is because I think we jinx it, all right?” He added, “But I can tell you, we really have a good resolution and it’s a resolution for our country.” So we can conclude that he either doesn’t make resolutions, but wanted to give a curiosity-peaking response to the question, or he does make them, but keeps them secret.
Ø OPRAH WINFREY: Oprah told Rachael Ray in 2017 that she opts for mindfulness rather than making future resolutions. The practice of mindfulness encourages practitioners to live in the moment, be grateful for the little things, and don’t focus too much on the past or future. Winfrey explained that she used to ask God to know love, “And then what you get hit with is everything that isn’t love to see if love will show up. So, I just said, ‘I ain’t asking God for nothing else.’” She said it’s the same with other attributes like courage. “Don’t ask for courage cause you’ll get a whole lot of things that will cause you to have to have courage!” Lesson here? Living in the moment might just be a lot easier than trying to project a whole year ahead and predict every twist and turn along the way that could easily derail each and every resolution.
Ø BILL GATES: Gates said in a 2018 blog post, “Although I have never been one for New Year’s resolutions, I have always been committed to setting clear goals and making plans to achieve them.” You can read the full blog post here. What he did was sort of take stock of the previous year and figure out ways to improve things moving forward.
Well, there are some examples for you to consider as the strangest year in any of our lives draws to an end. As for me, I am inspired by Mark Zuckerberg to choose one all-important thing to focus on for 2021. When there is just one goal, it seems like it would be easier to wake up each day and say, “OK, am I doing everything I can to make this happen this year?” Too many times, I’ve had ten or more resolutions to keep track of, and it was completely overwhelming. Therefore, I just watched Netflix and procrastinated on all of them.