As 2013 gives way to the new year, people around the world are making their plans for 2014. Many of them resolve to exercise regularly (which is why health clubs usually experience a temporary surge in membership in January), and others promise to lay off the potato chips, spend more time with their families, or finally finish that home-improvement project.
I, too, plan to start 2014 with some new long-term goals. I’ve learned through experience that the most successful resolutions are ones that are relevant to my life and reasonable in scope. So this year I’ve decided to focus on realistic resolutions that apply both to my personal life and to my professional life.
Everyone likes to joke about how socks occasionally “disappear” in the laundry. At one point, though, my sock drawer contained about twenty socks that didn’t match each other. My sock “disappearances” had gotten so numerous that I’m amazed Mulder and Scully didn’t show up on my doorstep to investigate them.
Eventually I got tired of spending several minutes rooting through my drawer each morning, trying to locate just one pair of matching socks. One day I dumped the whole drawerful into the trash and purchased new ones: fifteen identical pairs of business/casual socks, and fifteen identical pairs of white athletic socks. Now doing laundry and getting dressed (as far as socks are concerned, at least!) takes almost no time at all.
Too often, we complicate things that aren’t important enough to warrant the time we invest in them. I’ve found that if I simplify the unimportant things, I have more attention and time to focus on the important ones. My resolution for 2014 is to stop putting too much effort into things that really don’t matter.
We all make mistakes. In both personal matters and business, I’ll be the first to admit that no matter how good my plan is, at some point there’s a good chance I will mess it up.
Just as important as whether we make mistakes, however, is how we handle them. I know that I’ll ultimately be judged not so much on the mistakes I make but on how I right those wrongs. So in 2014 I resolve to own up to my mistakes—and fix them.
I try to start each day with a plan, but the great Scottish poet Robert Burns hit the nail on the head when he wrote that “the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” Try as I might, I can’t control all the variables of any given situation. So rather than try to create a foolproof plan (an impossible task!), I come up with a plan that’s pretty good—then roll with the punches as unexpected things pop up. In 2014, my plan (see what I did there?) is to be more flexible, so I can handle whatever comes my way.
Whether you make New Year’s resolutions of your own or avoid them entirely, I hope that 2014 brings you much happiness and success in all areas of your life!