I received a lot of comments on last week’s blog around New Year’s resolutions. Thank you to everyone who reached out to me personally. Please consider sharing your thoughts with the Front and Centered community by commenting directly on the blog posts that inspire you. I know if you start the conversation, other readers are likely to join.
Shortly after last week’s post went live, I was catching up on some casual reading. I came across an article in Esquire, titled Get into Gear. The subtitle, “Step 1: Screw Your New Year’s resolutions,” stopped me in my tracks. It caused me to look at resolutions from a completely different angle. Note: Unlike the articles I usually share, this one is subscription based, so you can only access it if you subscribe to Esquire.
The author, Dale Evans, centers his thinking around how the process of setting resolutions is backwards, because it starts with answers or outcomes, as if we have everything figured out even before the year begins. This was interesting to me, because I think one of the skills of great leaders is not providing answers, but having the courage to ask questions. And truth be told – I love a good debate, so I am often intrigued by opinions that differ from mine.
The article is quick and witty. It definitely pokes fun at people like me and how I approach the New Year and goal setting (that alone may be worth the $45 annual subscription fee to some of you). No worries; I have thick skin.
Evans didn’t just poke fun at the “Chiaradonna” approach to New Year’s resolution goal setting; he also provided an alternative approach – one based not on outcomes, but on the process of discovery.
Specifically, he suggests the following:
- Start with question not answers
- Focus on what you like in life
- Orient towards the future beyond the year
Clearly, Evans and I aren’t completely disconnected. Some suggestions align with my thought process, specifically the focus on the future. However, the approach is different. It is not outcome led, it is process led. The process is personal discovery.
As my long-time readers know, I strongly promote the complete integration of family, work and community. Personal discovery fits well with this philosophy, but I assume you have it all figured out already and you can articulate it in terms of goals. Evans assumes you have questions or thoughts you need to explore and organize. We both think the best way to approach things is through life experiences.
Evan ties in a theme around “design thinking,” which I love . One of the leaders in the concept is IDEO, an international design and consulting firm. Its president and CEO, Tim Brown, describes design thinking as “a human-centered approach to innovation that draws from the designer’s toolkit to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for business success.”
Design thinking is a topic gaining rapid popularity. It has found its way into technology, strategy and business school curriculums. I can’t say I’m surprised to see it find its way into New Year’s resolution and goal setting, too. Evans recommends a book on the subject – Designing Your Life. I just ordered it on my Amazon mobile app. I plan to read it and share my thoughts in an upcoming Leaders Library post.
Looking through another lens
My wife thinks I am stubborn (she actually says “thick-headed”). But sometimes there is a crack in that head and I let others’ thoughts and opinions seep in. When that happens, I learn and sometimes I reorient myself and I am better for it. This was one of those times.
I think it’s important to share both sides of this story, because at the end of the day, we are not all wired the same and what works for me, may not work for everyone else. But don’t tell my wife I said so. I like it better when she thinks I don’t listen….it lowers expectations.