Forget new year’s resolutions:

In a recent survey, over 60% of those questioned stated that they made New Year’s Resolutions and some 97% admitted they never keep them.  Mark Twain said, “New Year’s is a harmless annual institution, of no particular use to anybody, save as a scapegoat for promiscuous drunks, friendly calls, and humbug resolutions.”  Oscar Wilde wrote: “A New Year’s Resolution is something that goes in one year and out the other.” To be more precise, what Wilde was saying is that resolutions made the last week of December are over the first week of January.

In many cases, the purpose of making New Year’s resolutions is to try and correct character flaws or to alleviate guilt.  “I will eat less and lose weight;” or “I will be more loving to my spouse;” or “I will be a more tolerant person.”  But your character is who you are and you can’t change who you are, so why try? So I say, eat away, keep criticizing, and blast the horn at your car in front of you when the driver doesn’t go from zero to 60 five seconds after the light turns green.  Let’s face it; you’ll always revert back to your own self; so why try to be anything or anyone else?  “To thine own self be true,” someone once clichéd.  So forget making New Years Disillusionments.  Better you work on setting goals.

The darker side of setting goals

Guilty! I borrowed this phrase from Susan M. Heathfield ( Susan discusses why goal setting fails and suggests it’s because most people don’t set exciting goals, fake themselves out by setting unrealistic goals, execute their goal setting plans poorly, and/or for the wrong reasons, or aren’t serious about them in the first place. In my opinion, goal setting is about one step above making New Year’s Resolutions.

Look, I encourage goal setting because the process establishes specific, measurable, and time-sensitive objectives.  I set goals every year and set the bar high.  But most people, for whatever reason, couldn’t be bothered.  They’d rather wake up every morning working hard each day helping others achieve their goals at the expense of their own.  Why is this, you ask?  Heck, I don’t know.  The greatest minds in history haven’t been able to figure it out.  Best I can come up with is that ‘some do and most don’t.’

When “shoulds” become a “must”

It’s January 2011; a time for people to get excited about the new year, a new start, and new opportunities.  So what’s in store for you? We already agreed (at least I did) that New Year’s Resolutions and goal setting are as popular as eating liver.  So, what should you do to make 2011 the best year ever?   You shouldn’t do anything! That’s right, you shouldn’t do anything because “shoulds” don’t work!  How many people constantly bombard their lives (and others) with “I should have done this,” or “I should have done that,” or “I should have been more thoughtful.” or “I should have been more attentive?”  You see these people spend most of their waking hours “shoulding” all over themselves!

All significant and constructive change occurs when your “shoulds” become a “must.”  When you say you MUST lose weight rather than you should lose weight… you will.  When you say you MUST come up with a new marketing strategy for your business rather than you should come up with one… you will.  When you say you MUST change rather than you should change… you will.  When your shoulds become a must… self-created miracles (successes) happen.

What are your MUSTS for 2011?

Do you know specifically what your MUSTS are for this year? If you don’t know what you want, you’ll settle for what you get.  You see, you have to ask for what you want.  And you have to ask intelligently.  “I want to win the lottery,” is not an intelligent question.  An intelligent question is a question you ask that excites you and that you’ll work hard for.  An intelligent question is a question you ask, prepared to seek the answer even when you have no idea HOW you will get what you want.  You see, that’s how we got to the moon; how we got Smart phones, and all the technology available to us today.  Intelligent questions were asked and eventually the answers came. Yes, there are always setbacks, obstacles, rejection, and disappointment along the way. But again, when your MUSTS are compelling, your achievements will be monumental and you’ll easily overcome the adversities. So ask (intelligently), and you shall receive.

So, what’s in store for you in 2011?

Do you have the courage to identify a compelling MUST? What miracle can you create for yourself, your family, your business, and your future this year?  And from my own personal experiences, let me say this:  There are no intelligent limits on what you can achieve…. except the ones you place on yourself.

In summary, forget New Year’s Resolutions and all those multi-year, multi-track goals.  That’s way too silly and they normally don’t work anyway.  Instead, create a short list of MUSTS, and give 2011 your very best shot.  What do you have to lose except that which you could have achieved?

Happy New Year!


Jay Block is an industry pioneer and the nation’s leading motivational career coach.  Jay is a best-selling author of 15 books, including his latest blockbuster: 101 Best Ways To Land a Job in Troubled Times (McGraw-Hill).  He has a 20-year record of success for creating and recreating the career management industry. His website is: