Why New Year’s resolutions don’t work

Nudge your way into 2022

My New Year resolution is NOT to make any New Year Resolutions (NYRs). What’s the point? The data tells us that 80% of NYRs fall be the wayside by the end of January. Instead, I’m going to NUDGE my way into 2022. Here’s why.

Most NYRs focus on being healthier and happier. The favourites are lose weight, get fitter, sort out your finances or get a new job. Or maybe all four!

NYRs are normally focused on whopping changes. The reason they fail is simple – few people ever break them down into the small incremental steps which we need to make every day to progress on the longer path to our bigger goal. NYRs are strategy without action – daydreams for the sober.

But don’t we apply the same thinking to behavioural change in our businesses? We rarely break down the big goals into everyday actions and stick to them religiously.

At Black Isle Group that’s why we have become obsessed with NUDGES. Most of the theory and the psychology of this is not new. Yet we’ve rarely used it in the business world.  In 2008 I met Chris Hoy just after he’d returned from winning three gold medals at the Beijing Olympics. The foundation for his success was based on the same principles. If you make improvements in a host of tiny areas, focus on them every day, then you will win Olympic Gold.

This was powerfully demonstrated by one Black Isle client towards the end of 2021. They set themselves an Olympian sized goal of increasing their business pipeline by £3million in ten weeks. It’s a target which they thought was ambitious. To be honest, some people on the team doubted they’d ever do it. Yet they got there in four weeks.

We worked with them to break down the big ambitious goal into small everyday actions to be carried out by each individual member of the team. This is what we call, THE BIG APPROACH.

We supplied each team member with a coach – some external, some internal. We supported the whole effort with our NUDGE technology which sat as an app on everyone’s phones – buzzing away to remind individuals to carry out their daily promised actions. We helped maintain a laser like focus on the task.  We added a powerful suite of reporting which helped track progress and gave a clear line of sight as home working cranked up again because of Omicron.

We also ensured that NUDGE helped everyone realise the connection between their mental and physical wellbeing and their performance. We encouraged, helped, and inspired along the way. The results were amazing. This piece of work should make all business leaders stop and think.

Covid taught us that much of what we’ve been doing in the past is not fit for purpose. We believe that is certainly true when it comes to the approach that most have taken to behavioural change and transforming performance.

We start 2022 with a lot of hope. Hope that this NEW YEAR will be brighter and better than what we’ve just endured. But hope is just an NYR. Another daydream. To make real change happen in 2022 we can’t rely on hope. It’s time for a new approach.

If you would like to find out how Black Isle can help you and your business with real change and a new approach click here; The BIG Approach (blackislegroup.com)

Atholl Duncan is Chair of Black Isle Group and Author of “Leaders in Lockdown” – shortlisted for leadership book of the year 2021