New Year resolutions and track record

New Year resolutions and track record

We are into yet another new year and for many the world over, the beginning of a new year is characterized by resolutions. Resolutions are made in right earnest believing that they will be kept. I came across this statistic on Google – 75% of resolutions will be continued through the entire first week of January, but only 46% make it past six months. University of Scranton also stated that 39% of people in their twenties will achieve their resolution each year while only 14% of people over 50 years of age will achieve theirs. This means more than half of the people do not get past 6 months with their resolutions and 61% of young people do not achieve theirs. I wonder why there is such a high rate of failure in among young people in keeping resolutions. After all, in the wireless world today, there are even apps to help you keep your resolutions (seriously?)

It is believed that the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. Though this may not hold true in all cases, there are events where at times we go by this maxim and at other times, against it. Take the case if hiring. How many of us can honestly claim that we have recruited a person with a ‘not so clean’ track record in previous jobs? If the person has not stayed long in jobs, he is likely to hop again. Reject. I am happy none of my bosses in the past judged me on this. Else, I would have spent long stints unemployed. If he has not contributed very effectively in his earlier jobs, chances are that he may not be very effective in this organization. Reject. If he doesn’t speak well about his past employers, he will probably bitch about you as well. Reject. While patterns are something significant which cannot be ignored, how many of us have also interviewed glib talking ‘impression managers’ who we hired, only to find out later how hollow they were!

Performance at the workplace is an example where this maxim can be proved wrong. A ‘C’ player, with appropriate coaching can move into ‘B’ or ‘A’ levels and conversely, an ‘A’ player may well slip into a ‘B’ or ‘C’ position. So, how much can we rely on past trends and more importantly, for what?

Business history is replete with stories of people who, having failed once or more than once excelled later. How many people have heard of Traf-O Data? This business was set up to create reports for roadway engineers from raw traffic data.The company did achieve a little bit of success and generated some income. But the machine that they built to process the data flopped when they tried to present it to a Seattle County traffic employee. Two of the people who partnered in the business went on to create Microsoft. The Detroit Automobile Company went bankrupt and the man who founded it later left the Henry Ford Company with just the rights to his name. His next venture, Ford Motor Company succeeded and revolutionized the automobile industry. An editorat the Kansas City Star paper, in 1919 fired a man from his job because he “lacked imagination and had no good ideas.” Because he was unable to manage money, the animation studio he acquired called Laugh-O-Gram ended up in bankruptcy. It was with the Walt Disney Company that the man finally tasted success.

Coming back to resolutions, there are two categories of people who are able to stick to their resolutions. One set of people is those who have always finish what they start by sheer habit. The second set of people is those who keep their resolutions even if they have had a history of breaking them in the past. This may happen because of changed circumstances and the person’s representation of those circumstances. The onset of a disease may compel a person to quit smoking or eat healthy and start exercising and continue or even change him to be nice to people. The threat of being made redundant may make a person reinvent himself or learn a new skill. A financial loss or gain may make a person manage his money systematically. It is therefore safe to say that the way a person represents a situation to him/herself influences behavior and in the long term, even habits undergo changes.

Me, I do not make New Year resolutions.





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