MPW Insider is an online community where the biggest names in business and beyond answer timely career and leadership questions. Today’s answer for: What’s your New Year’s resolution? is written by Erin (Mack) McKelvey, CEO of SalientMG.
It’s that time of year again–year-in-reviews and predictions are flooding my Twitter (TWTR) feed. While the New Year is a good time for executives to pause and reflect on the previous year’s successes and missed opportunities, it should also mark the time that leaders are focused on the coming year’s goals and milestones. Business milestones are one thing; resolutions are another.
The truth is that there aren’t stops and starts in business, in order to gain and sustain momentum, planning and execution must be fluid. Constant testing and learning, and continuous improvements based on results strengthen an organization. A company’s business goals and milestones should reflect the overall business plan for the year and company strategy. Stops and starts indicate a company’s tendency to live only in the short-term. And unfortunately, a short-term mentality is usually what derails a company, causing internal chaos and overloading employees.
Resolutions usually reflect short-term thinking in fact, only 8% of those who make resolutions achieve their goals, according to a University of Scranton, Journal of Clinical Psychology study. That is an abysmal success rate. The success rate also highlights the flawed thinking about resolutions. According to that same study, the top ten resolutions are personal in nature: weight loss, organization, financial discipline, fitness and habit quitting–to name a few.
So is there a reason people don’t stick to their resolutions? Professionals’ answers are mixed. Some believe that many don’t have a plan to achieve these “goals”, while others believe that many rush into an idea, like weight loss, without a plan to sustain the goal once it’s reached. And others believe the lack of actual incentives force resolution-makers off target. If 92% of those that set personal resolutions don’t achieve them, what does that say for the professional world? I don’t see a place for New Year’s Resolutions in business. We cannot afford failure rates that high in any sector.
Steven Covey, author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People once said, “Some habits of ineffectiveness are rooted in our social conditioning toward quick-fix, short-term thinking.” This is how I feel about resolutions. While I respect those that have resolutions, and even more so if they see them until the end, as the CEO of a strategic marketing firm, my New Year’s Resolution is not to have one. I will keep my business executing against the overall strategy, and I will force the discipline to meet our designated goals. As an individual, could I say that I plan to improve myself in 2016? I certainly strive for that on an on-going basis, but not that the start of each year. That too is a marathon, not a sprint.