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Here’s Why You Should Make New Year’s Resolutions … Today!

We’re two weeks shy of Thanksgiving and the onslaught of the holiday season. Have you made your New Year’s resolutions yet?

You should and here’s why …

Recently, ABC’s Good Morning America ran an extended segment entitled Five to Thrive with popular blogger, author, and motivational speaker Rachel Hollis. It focused on Hollis’ simple and doable daily habits she swears by:

  1. Hydrate. Drink half your body weight in ounces of water each day [i.e., if you weigh 120 pounds, drink 60 ounces of water daily … if you weigh 180 pounds, drink 90 ounces]. This flushes toxins from your body, heads off sleep-inducing dehydration, and ensures you don’t mistake thirst for hunger.
  2. Wake up one hour earlier than you typically do. You’ll be amazed at how much more productive you can be in the quiet of the early morn.
  3. Give up one category of food that doesn’t serve your body well for 30 days [i.e., fried foods, sweets, carbohydrates, etc. You know, all those things that taste the best.]
  4. Move your body every day. Whether it’s a formal exercise regimen or simply raking leaves or mowing the lawn, get moving for a minimum of 30 minutes each day!
  5. Practice active gratitude. Every day, proactively take notice of all the wonderful facets of your life [even the simplest of things like a well-padded carpet underfoot, a favorite item of clothing, your dog, the meal you enjoyed last night]. It’s ridiculously easy to get sucked into a vortex of negativity in today’s world. Resist this by starting and ending your day with a moment of grateful reflection. And sprinkle some gratefulness in at different times during your hectic day.

What makes these Five to Thrive items appealing is they’re all simple, cost nothing, and are eminently doable. But like any behavioral change, it requires getting started and being repetitive.

But the secret is …

The wisdom within the wisdom shared by Hollis on the morning news show is get started now! Don’t wait for New Year’s Day to make healthy and wise habits a part of your life. Hollis told the interviewer, you’re more likely to make meaningful changes and stick to them if you begin before the madness of the holidays kicks in — meaning more social events, more eating and drinking, less sleep, more spending, more pressure to get everything done, year-end close-out activities at work, etc.

“If you start now, you’ll already have several weeks under your belt and you’ll be better prepared to make wise decisions during the holidays,” she said. “When New Year’s Day rolls around, you’ll already be on your way.”

Yikes … look at those numbers!

According to Statista, a German online portal for statistics that aggregates and analyzes market and opinion research and economic data, the overwhelming majority of people who are genuinely “resolute” to make a lifestyle or career changes on January 1st are colossal flops by … January 12th!

“You have to ditch the ego-based fear that comes with thinking others are watching you,” Hollis explained, “and just waiting for you to come up short. Who cares? Forget them and focus on you and what’s best for you.”

Studies show:

  • 37% of New Year’s resolutions are to eat healthier, exercise more and save money
  • 24% focus on self-care [i.e., get more sleep]
  • 18% say they want to read more
  • 15% want to make new friends
  • 14% involve a new job
  • 13% want to take up a new hobby
  • 32% say they can’t be bothered with New Year’s resolution

According to Statista, a whopping 80% of people with good intentions abandon ship in less than two weeks while only 8% are wisely navigating their lives. The remaining 12% are semi-committed to new habits but not entirely disciplined in their approach. But getting started now – before the holidays – will turbo-charge your chances of success.

This got me thinking …

As I mentioned above, Hollis’ Five to Thrive list is simple, realistic and doable [with a little discipline]. I wondered if the same simplicity and wisdom could be applied to work-related resolutions that make you more productive, more time-efficient, more fulfilled, and a more valued professional. Now, today, no waiting for January 1st to start on New Year’s resolutions.

Here are some things to consider:

  • Spend one hour each month researching new productivity apps for your mobile devices. Don’t just say you’re going to do it, formally schedule a full, uninterrupted hour for a specific day and time and see what you can download free or for a nominal cost that will help you better manage your workload and your life load.
  • Write better emails and save yourself an hour a day. A recent article by Vickie Mitchell in Insights magazine suggests:
    • Write better subject lines. Use the header field to write an eye-catching headline. Maximize the 60 characters or so you have in that field. For example, write Bid needed by Oct 1. for Nov 15-17 Board Meeting [49 characters] or Referred to you by Vickie Mitchell [29 characters].
    • Write tight. Say in 100 words what you tend to say in 200. Be succinct and get to the point, calling attention to action needed.
    • Keep it simple. Stick to basic fonts like Georgia, Verdana, Times New Roman or Arial. They’re easier to read and less distracting than fancy-pants fonts. Consider increasing the font size in your email settings since 75% of adults wear glasses or contact lenses.
    • Bypass “Ta-ta!”. It’s an email, not a love letter. Don’t worry about fond send-offs. You’ll save words, time and your key messaging won’t be diluted by unnecessary “stuff and fluff”.
    • Proof is in the proofing. Before hitting send, read your clearly headlined, simple, tightly written, no-frills email. Be sure to proof your own words. Check grammar, spelling and punctuation. Don’t cc: anybody that doesn’t need to be in this particular loop. Also, consider starting a new email thread on the same topic/issue to keep things fresh and draw more attention [and action].
  • Eat lunch with a colleague you’ve never eaten lunch with. Get to know and understand others who aren’t in your day-to-day circle at work. You may be amazed at what you learn. And you may discover ways you could help advance their career, or vice-versa.
  • Control your own calendar. On one hand, freely accessible, shared calendars in Google or Outlook are great for scheduling meetings. But if you’re not careful, you’ll cede control of your own time if you don’t protect it. It’s perfectly fine to schedule blocks of time that won’t be occupied by meetings or appointments so you can shield that time you need to actually get your work done. Empty spaces on a shared calendar look like freely available opportunities to schedule you into a conference room for an hour or two. Protect your valuable time.
  • Consider standup meetings. Years ago, the Richards Group, a wildly successful [and productive] Dallas-based agency, pioneered the “stairwell meeting” in which invited members literally gather in a stairwell for meetings versus a conference room. As you might expect, nobody wants to sit on the steps or stand in a stairwell for too long so these meetings tend to be direct, to the point, and short [with pretty good acoustics, too]. Consider stand-up meetings or stairwell meetings. They work for a reason. [What, no stairwell in your one-story building …? Well consider scheduling 15-minute meetings versus 30 minutes. It’s amazing how many 30-minute meetings actually only accomplish about 15 minutes of work.]
  • Just say no, seriously. Just because someone asks you for something or some time doesn’t mean you have to say yes. Discipline yourself to say no, delicately and professionally, when your own priorities must take precedent over someone else’s. It’s your time, own it!

These are just a small sampling of simple and doable New Year’s resolutions you could make that will make you more productive, more valuable and more fulfilled at work. And maybe get you out of the office on time for a change.

But don’t wait! Get started today and you’ll have a six-week head start on everyone else.

Make it a truly Happy New Year … starting today!


Kenneth Jones