by John Gardner
I have never been a fan of New Year’s resolutions because failure is anticipated and minimized, indicating a lack of real resolve. People resolve to lose weight, but surrender to the flurry of New Year’s fast food restaurant specials designed to get you to break that resolution so you’ll go back to keeping them in business. Students resolve to do better in school until the first poor test score. Those who had to do summer school last year resolve never to do it again, but then take the same low effort track that got them there the first time. Musicians strive to improve until faced with the choice of practice or snapchat. Band students sign up for solo contest, but then fail to follow through with sufficient practice, unwilling to pay the price for success, so they can back out or excuse a less than golden performance by saying they didn’t really try — or to blame the judge.
If you fail, you’re in the high majority. Forbes reports that, according to University of Scranton research, only 46% of people make resolutions and just 8% of those keep them. Don’t make hollow resolutions with a built-in failure expectation. That’s like entering into marriage with an exit plan written into to a pre-nup contract. Instead, borrowing some Star Trek jargon, “Plot Your Course, Lock It In, Make It So and Boldly Go!”.
Where do you want to go? This year? Don’t include all your life-long goals, just the medium range, realistic, attainable targets for this year?
In the Forbes article, the common traits of the 8% who succeeded were that their goals were simple, tangible and obvious. Simple, aka KISS, or Keep It Short & Simple. When Captain Kirk was asked for the next course to plot, he didn’t generalize with “somewhere out there”. He said, “second star to the right”.
Once you lock it in, you’re committed. Commit is an action verb. When you approach a traffic light, there is that moment where you commit to go, even if the light begins to change. There is a point, as you run toward the end of the diving board, that you commit to get wet. Take that big list you started with, take out the fluff, decide what is really important, prioritize — and then commit to make it so.
Make It So
On the star-ship Enterprise, when Captain Picard is on the bridge, after the order is given and the response comes that the course is plotted and locked in, usually with the emphasis of a pointed finger, the command is given, “Engage” or
“Make It So!”
There is a military saying that battle plans become obsolete as soon as you engage the enemy. General (and later President) Eisenhower, planner of the war-changing Normandy Invasion said,
“I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.”
Even though you made a list, plotted your course and engaged the plan, things don’t always go the way you anticipated, similarly to the way the enemy doesn’t always respond the way the battle plan indicated he would. Eisenhower claimed that “planning is indispensable” because the overall strategy can include contingencies, and the planning at least increases the probability of successful adjustments as things (the battle, your resolutions, school, life) progress. If you have planned adequately, then engage it with confidence….boldly go.
If you know where you’re going (plotted the course), commit to it (locked it in), acted on your plan (made it so), then you should boldly go! Make course corrections as needed, but don’t be tentative.
DON’T BE THESE GUYS AT THE END OF THE YEAR…..