No more New Year’s res­o­lu­tions

Cath Vin­cent ends 2016 on a high note for those peo­ple who end the year on an empty tank.

NZ Business - - HELP DESK -

Ever con­tin­ued driv­ing around in your car with the petrol light on? You know you’re run­ning close to empty, but you just keep go­ing. A lit­tle er­rand here; a quick trip there; you squeeze out an­other lit­tle bit of mileage. Fi­nally the petrol light comes on; now you’re definitely on empty.

Even so, you con­tinue un­til, one day, you really fear that you can’t go an­other kilo­me­tre, an­other step. With re­lief, you limp into the petrol sta­tion, and you can hardly be­lieve how much was needed to top up!

Of course, I’m not just talk­ing about petrol in your car. More specif­i­cally, I’m talk­ing about the fuel that keeps YOU go­ing. That’s a mix­ture of all the things we know are es­sen­tial and good for us – sleep, nu­tri­tion, ex­er­cise, down time, etcetera.

We need to do all th­ese things but we don’t. The small amount we do man­age to put in sits on one side of the scales, com­pletely dwarfed by what we take out. But don’t worry, Christ­mas is com­ing! We can fi­nally take some time to top up ( but only af­ter we have driven our­selves much harder and faster than nor­mal so that we truly ‘de­serve’ a break.) Whether we ad­mit it or not that’s the sign of a worka­holic, and ad­dic­tive work ten­den­cies are be­com­ing the norm: • Habit – we’re just so used to work­ing all the time, and habits (even un­com­fort­able ones) cre­ate a sense of pre­dictabil­ity and there­fore safety. In the end, it’s ac­tu­ally eas­ier to work than to do some­thing dif­fer­ent. • Lack of imag­i­na­tion – we get up in the morn­ing, and in check­ing our smart­phones be­fore break­fast, we’re work­ing be­fore we’ve had a chance to think about what other op­tions there might be. • Self-worth – the adren­a­line surge that goes with feel­ing in­cred­i­bly busy is a highly ad­dic­tive drug in it­self, so in­creas­ingly we’re at­tach­ing our sense of worth to work­ing. Af­ter a bliss­ful three-week Christ­mas break at the bach last year, I re­solved that I would spend more time there all year round. Just re­cently a friend com­mented, “You’re away again? You seem to go away a lot.” “Awesome,” I thought. “I’ve fi­nally cracked it!” One year, feel­ing great af­ter my Christ­mas break, I won­dered how I could feel great all the time. I re­solved to make a prac­tice of work­ing in a fo­cused way so I would be more suc­cess­ful with­out run­ning out of en­ergy. And I was right – what I didn’t bank on was the dis­ci­pline it takes to quit when you’re ahead!

I promised my­self I would set three high-value tasks each day and work only on those, and that when they were done I would be free to do what­ever I liked for the rest of the day. What a great in­cen­tive to com­plete tasks quickly! On the first day, all of my high-value tasks (which in­cluded a suc­cess­ful sales phone call, and dif­fi­cult con­ver­sa­tion I would nor­mally put off ), were al­ready com­plete in the first hour.

“Woohoo, it works!” I thought, “Fo­cus really is the key, and now I can stop work for the day be­cause I’ve al­ready had a suc­cess­ful day, and be­cause I promised my­self I would.”

But some­how, I found it im­pos­si­ble to stop. I’d only used five per­cent of my en­ergy (fuel), I was so used to us­ing more (habit), I wasn’t quite sure what to do with my day (imag­i­na­tion) and I felt rest­less even though I had had a ‘suc­cess­ful’ day (self-worth). Would it really be OK to stop work and ‘top up’ quite so soon?

If, as you read this, you feel like you’re sprint­ing to­wards Christ­mas with a sense of ur­gency, and hang­ing out for your break on the other side, wouldn’t you rather top up more fre­quently in­stead of hav­ing to wait till the end of the year?

Whilst I urge you to find a way of op­er­at­ing dif­fer­ently, please don’t make a New Year’s res­o­lu­tion! Start­ing the year with en­ergy, goals and ex­cite­ment that steadily leaks away over the course of the year is just so de­press­ing! In­stead, why not re­new your re­solve (and en­ergy) more of­ten? Why not try a ‘Tues­day’ res­o­lu­tion, or a ‘3pm’ res­o­lu­tion in­stead?

And so, in the fes­tive spirit, let me be the first to wish you a very happy Tues­day and a pros­per­ous 3pm!

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