Washington Post: On Success with Michael Berland: Look long-term

Look long-term
By Michael Berland
Published December 30, 2009

Q: Why do most people abandon their New Year’s resolutions so quickly? How much of a role does goal-setting play in achieving success? What are the most effective resolutions you have made?

I have never believed in New Year’s resolutions as a key tool for life success. I believe in life resolutions, or more specifically, in setting life goals and achieving them rather than “resolving” to do things that are good for me … or, more commonly, to refrain from engaging in self-defeating behaviors.

There is something to be said for the feeling of a fresh start and a break from the past that comes with a new calendar year. So I can understand the appeal of New Year’s resolutions. And they can be helpful for matters of personal health and fitness. I am proud to say that I lost 25 pounds in 2009. And sure enough, I started my fitness regimen a year ago.

In What Makes You Tick?: How Successful People Do It — And What You Can Learn from Them, my co-author, Douglas E. Schoen, and I explain motivational traits are a key to understanding an individual’s success archetype (along with both inner personality traits and external traits such as how they interact with people and leverage relationships).

By motivational traits, I mean how do you set goals for yourself and how do you lay the groundwork for reaching them. When you achieve, how does that sense of fulfillment motivate you more, in turn? When you fail to reach your goals, how do you handle that, how do you recalibrate?

If you can be introspective about those issues in setting your New Year’s resolutions, you learn a lot about yourself. And, you can use that information to help you set long-term professional and personal goals that are not about beating the clock.

Happy New Year!

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