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Bruce McAlpineGoal Setting

New Year’s Resolutions and Goals?  Again? Really?

By December 14, 2021No Comments

Yes, it’s that time of year again when individuals make New Year’s Resolutions and companies make or revise Goals for the coming year.  It seems like a good idea.  As Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.”

But does it really work?

Companies are usually more successful at achieving their goals than individuals are at keeping their New Year’s Resolutions.  Why is that?

Company goals usually have 4 characteristics in common.  They are Meaningful.  They are Measurable.  They have built-in Accountability.  And there are Rewards attached to success.

How many of your personal New Year’s Resolutions last year had these 4 elements?

Assuming your corporate goals for 2022 have been set by now, let’s get personal.

A person may want to lose weight, or save money for a down-payment on a home.  Both goals seem meaningful.  But the individual needs to really want the outcome, not just try to do it because it seems like a good thing to do.  Without a specific goal (like 40 pounds or $10,000) it is unlikely to happen.  And if the individual doesn’t communicate his/her goal to someone and ask to be held accountable, chances are self discipline alone will be insufficient to see it through.  And without a reward (a new wardrobe or a new house) the goal will most likely not be achieved.

Here is what the New Year’s Resolution could look like in a chart:

Goal: Lose weight

Characteristic Personal Example
Meaningful Have better quality of life, more energy, lower risk of ill health
Measurable 40 pounds
Accountability Spouse will ask me monthly how I am doing
Rewards New wardrobe


This is a great step forward.  But it alone is insufficient.

Two additional steps are necessary in both the corporate and personal context.  Goals and New Year’s Resolutions also need Action Plan, and a plan for Overcoming Obstacles.  The Action Plan addresses the question of “What are you going to do differently to achieve this goal?”.  The plan for Overcoming Obstacles addresses the question of “What are you going to do when you encounter the inevitable obstacles?”.  These two steps will take more thought and time, but it will be worth it.

Final Steps Personal Example
Action Plan Eat more sensibly: no alcohol or deserts on weekdays

Work out 5 times per week: 20,000 steps per day, go to fitness class three times a week

Plan for Overcoming Obstacles Special Events like Weddings or Company Parties: Limit of 1 alcoholic beverage, no bread or appetiser, no desert


Here’s the bottom line: You can’t change your past but, starting today, you CAN change your future…if you really want to.

So, best wishes for a happy festive season, and for a fulfilling 2022 as you achieve your important personal goals.

About the Author: Bruce McAlpine is President of Fulcrum Search Science Inc., a Toronto-based executive search firm solving Mission-Critical hiring challenges throughout North America for 50 years, and Past President of the Association of Canadian Search, Employment & Staffing Services.  He can be reached at or 416.779.8505.