The Smoke Detector: Are Your New Year's Resolutions a Set-up for Failure?

By Philip Jackson posted 01-09-2018 13:13


“I found if you have a goal that you might not reach it. But if you don’t have one, then you are never disappointed. And let me tell you, it feels phenomenal,” from the sarcastic viewpoint of Vince Vaughn in the movie Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story.

Although this notion is entertaining, the reality is that without any goals, there would be no accountability for those of us attempting to succeed in our careers.

I_Can_and_I_Will.jpgGenerally when the new year comes around, we often hear the cliché of making one or a few significant changes to assist us in improving our livelihoods. Whether these resolutions include losing weight, being more disciplined, or being more available for family, we often set goals without reaching them fully.  Could this be attributed to the idea that we are a more impulsive society and unwilling to take our time to achieve them?

One speaker at a conference a couple of years ago introduced the concept known as aggregation of marginal gains. The premise is quite simple. If you focus on smaller changes and continually build upon them, the idea of achieving these goals will become less daunting and more tangible so you are more encouraged and likely to reach your larger achievements.

Often we imagine the feeling of what it is like to achieve a significant professional goal or breakthrough, or what most would consider “big wins.” The problem with these “big wins” is they tend to be more rare and infrequent. The research mentioned above indicates that small attainable goals actually boost work performance, creativity, and production. Individuals were more satisfied and considered the work being performed more gratifying by taking a goal-setting approach.

Often we cringe at establishing the proper goals to push us out of our comfort zone. But by setting small goals, I suspect we as professionals would be more apt to change and more satisfied with our professional lives.

And when you achieve each specific, subsequent and then ultimate goal, I agree with Vince Vaughn: it does feel phenomenal.