The Problem with New Year’s Resolutions


As last year came to a close and the new one is upon us, we reach the inevitable introspection that leads to pondering our New Year’s resolutions.


We review the ledger of the good, the bad and the indifferent. On the outcome of this scale we decide whether the year was positive or one of those that should be dumped in the garbage not to be recycled. Researchers from the Unites States of America have found that 60% of people usually make New Year’s resolutions, of these only 8% actually achieve their resolutions.


Before the first month of the year has even come to an end, most people have given up on their annual commitment to themselves. Researchers have pinpointed the actual day when most people will have broken their resolutions is 12th January. Interestingly, New Year’s resolutions fall into four broad categories: 1) Self-improvement or education related resolutions; 2) Weight related resolutions; 3) Money related resolutions; and 4) Relationship related resolutions. What are the blockages from achieving these resolutions? The popular press will have copious amounts of articles pondering this dilemma.

Many of our New Year decisions are around getting more order in our lives and being the best we can be.  In effect we implement Lean on ourselves as an individual. There are things we can achieve on our own for example we might implement 5 S (see below) and have a tidier house:

Typically, the real behaviour change is the hardest as step 5 requires everyone else in your house to change as well!

How about considering what impact your work life balance has? If our work life is a chaotic never ending battle of trying to meet deadlines, fixing errors and following up an endless array of things, can we expect our lives to be any different? How can we focus on working on our weight, relationships, self-improvement or further education when we spend the greater part of day trying to rid of all the problems or Noise that we face. More broadly though to change your working hours and improve work life balance cannot be done on your own as we all interact with other people at work and all have interface activity noise  (definition).  Effectively Noise activity slows us down and takes us away from our objectives.

Consider that a work life balance change is a group activity and needs to be treated as such. We are implementing lean thinking. We need to engage our work colleagues on this change if we really want success.  We need to Identify (define) that we are addressing work life balance and target a key work process e.g. delivery of product. Follow this with a measurement (measure) activity: what is our base line, what are the problems? We need a shared understanding of where we are.  (Analyse) opportunities to address: how can flow be achieved, the customer serviced better?  Agree what can be changed (improve) and get the teams involved in generating ideas for change.  Plan, (communicate) and measure the change.  If everyone is committed to the change and behaviour change is measured we can drive and achieve sustainable change.   So set yourself a target. Our research with Melbourne University indicates that typically we all suffer from an average of 33.6% Noise. This is a third of our time. We can work with our colleagues to achieve a better work balance and half our Noise.

So when you go to make your New Year’s resolutions this year make sure that you understand the impact of your work life and make the changes there that will assist you to achieve your life goals.

By Diana Perry – COO Bevington Group

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