What I learned from Mark Zuckerberg about making resolutions (and why I’ve waited until February to make mine).

What I learned from Mark Zuckerberg about making resolutions (and why I’ve waited until February to make mine).

– by Damian Killen

According to research, the 8th January is the day that most people who commit to a diet on New Year’s Eve, are likely to give up.  Just over a week and most of us have thrown in the towel (or in this case the napkin!).  I wonder why?

For the book industry Mark Zuckerberg has become the new Oprah.  Why?  Because this year for his New Year’s resolution, he proclaimed he was going to a read a new book every other week “with an emphasis on learning about different cultures, beliefs, histories and technologies” and of course announced this on his Facebook page.  His first book choice, The End of Power (Moisés Naím), sold out on Amazon and I am sure this in turn helped Kindle sales.

He has made New Year’s resolutions in the past and to the best of our knowledge kept them.  You might say that it is easy for the Mark Zuckerberg’s of this world to get over the 8th January problem, but he also did something that might help us do the same.  He went public in looking for suggestions and then announced to everyone what he was going to do (Cialdini’s “consistency” principle of persuasion).

Most of us would not be too keen on asking our nearest and dearest for suggestions for our New Year resolutions, in case they might say something we don’t like (“keep the house tidy”, “pick up the kids more often from school”, “be home in time for dinner”, “let’s talk face to face more often, rather than through a device”, “be on time for meetings”, etc..)  Maybe we think that these resolutions are for ourselves, something we do for ourselves.  This is true, but it is often important to spend equal time looking in and looking out, to give life a sense of equilibrium.

I like cooking, but am not very good at baking – probably because there is too much detail and preciseness, but two years ago I made “be a better baker” as my resolution.  By chance I got a gift of attending a short cookery course, where I baked cakes and biscuits and then practised these until it was familiar and comfortable and now I feel more confident baking.

I can’t remember last year’s resolution, so obviously I didn’t follow through!

When we make resolutions in the excitement or in the free time around New Year, they don’t always pass the reality test of “can I do this in normal day-to-day living?”  Goals should stretch us, but not beyond what is achievable.  So choosing something that we can commit to, make time for and make us feel good that we have achieved it, is critical.

It also needs to fit with our values.  I would guess that Mark Zuckerberg values knowledge and applying it.  So while a book every two weeks may be a stretch, it still fits for him.  The same for myself and baking.  Being detailed focused was a stretch, but one I was willing to make as I enjoy cooking and feeding others.

Lastly making two resolutions might be a good idea.  Not just to avoid the disappointment of not making the first one, but to provide balance to the first one.  So for me this year, it is to read and ultimately write more fiction.  But to balance this more solitary pursuit I need something that will focus me outwards.

Suggestions welcome! And I have all of February still to decide!

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