Archive for December, 2012

A New Year State of Mind

Monday, December 31st, 2012

As we head towards the start of another year, many of us will make resolutions as to what we will do differently over the coming months or year, or what we will seek to achieve. I wondered how many people who set themselves New Year’s Resolutions actually achieve them?

American research from the University of Scranton found that 45% of Americans usually make New Year’s Resolutions, 17% make them infrequently and 38% never make them at all. 8% of this total population group said that they were successful in achieving their Resolutions.

As an aside, I found these statistics interesting in relation to Shelle Rose Charvet’s Motivational Traits theory. One of the Traits – Direction – relates to whether people are motivated by having an objective or avoiding problems – whether they are ‘Toward’ or ‘Away From’. In other words, are they motivated by a carrot or a stick. Her research found that approximately 40% of the population are ‘Toward’, and approximately 40% are ‘Away from’ with the remaining 20% being a mixture of the two – these figures have some resonance with the findings of the University of Scranton.

Returning to Resolutions, according to Wikipedia, “a 2007 study by Richard Wisemen from the University of Bath involving 3,000 people showed that 88% of those who set New Year’s Resolutions fail, despite the fact that 52% of the study’s participants were confident of success at the beginning. Men achieved their goal 22% more often when they engaged in goal setting, (a system where small measurable goals are being set; such as, a pound a week, instead of saying ‘lose weight’), while women succeeded 10% more when they made their goals public and got support from their friends”.

So, if setting goals only makes a difference for 8 – 12% of the population (based on these studies), what might be a more universally productive approach?

As I was contemplating this, I recalled some statistics I use when delivering sessions on Emotional Intelligence (EI). According to Travis Bradberry, we experience 27 emotions an hour, 456 each day and so over 3,000 a week. How much notice do we take of this information?

A four year old child laughs 300 times a day, yet a forty year old laughs only 4 times a day according to this blog. I’m not sure how accurate this is, but there are other similar such statistics available – and you only have to spend some time with people of those ages to know that children laugh and smile more than adults.

Perhaps New Year could be about re-connecting with fundamental skills – skills that perhaps we think we use but which really we have let slip. Skills we used far more effectively as children.

And then I saw this book that our son bought for Peta this Christmas – “How to be an Explorer of the World” by Keri Smith.  What a great book.

Early in the book the writer provides a list of ideas for the exploration of our world:

  1. Always be looking (notice the ground beneath your feet).
  2. Consider everything alive and animate.
  3. Everything is interesting. Look closer.
  4. Alter your course often.
  5. Observe for long durations (and short ones).
  6. Notice the stories going on around you.
  7. Notice patterns, make connections.
  8. Document your findings (field notes) in a
    variety of ways.
  9. Incorporate indeterminacy.
  10. Observe movement.
  11. Create a personal dialogue with your
    environment. Talk to it.
  12. Trace things back to their origins.
  13. Use all of the senses in your investigations.

If you are one of the 90% who doesn’t use New Year’s Resolutions, or who sets them and doesn’t follow through, perhaps using this template could be an alternative approach to being more effective in the New Year?

Happy New Year!

Paul