Do you set goals or new year's resolutions?

Photo by Jerry Kiesewetter on Unsplash

Do You Set Goals or New Year’s Resolutions?

Creating New Year resolutions is a widespread habit. According to estimates, between 40 to 50% of U.S. adults make them.

Data from Statistic Brain confirms our intuition regarding the most common resolutions: 21% involve losing weight.

But what happens with all those resolutions? Their success rate is abysmal. A study by Richard Wiseman from the University of Bristol involving 3,000 people showed that although 52% of participants were confident of success, only 12% achieved their goal one year later.

Statistic Brain shows even worse results: only 9% of respondents felt they were successful in achieving their resolution.

“Set it and Forget it.”

Ron Popeil is an American serial inventor and one of the creators of the TV infomercial. Popeil created numerous catchphrases, including one for his Showtime Rotisserie: “Set it and forget it!”

Set it and forget it became the American expression that represents everything that you don’t have to remember. And that is precisely what happens to New Year resolutions. A survey conducted with 2000 Australian adults found that 33% didn’t keep track of their progress while 23% forgot about it.

Although being “forgettable” may be an attractive quality for a kitchen appliance, it is a terrible trait when it comes to goals. The set it and forget it mindset is the difference between creating New Year resolutions for work or actual goals.

While some people see goals as something that you have to do besides your real work, successful teams do it differently. Instead of keeping OKRs apart from their work, they make OKRs a part of their work. OKR becomes a critical component of the management model.

Here are four steps to make it happen:

1) Go Beyond “goal setting.”

We have to change the language we use. People talk about goal setting as if setting goals was all we needed to be successful, in true set it and forget it fashion.

To use goals successfully, can’t just “set” them. We also have to Align them with the rest of the organization and work systematically to Achieve them. That is why I created the Set-Align-Achieve cycle, a simple method to avoid OKR’s most common mistakes.

2) Sustain a regular follow-through cadence

At the heart of the Achieve step is the OKR Check-in, a weekly ceremony for measuring the OKRs and adjusting the corresponding initiatives.

Adopting the Check-in is crucial to success. The goal is not to add more meetings, but to make them more effective and even reducing them.

Check-ins should be short and limited to one hour. Most of the executive teams I have worked with managed to do it in 30-40 minutes. Team check-ins tend to be shorter, with some teams doing 15-minute stand-up Check-ins.

Having the right mindset during the Check-in is critical:

  • Improving OKRs vs. putting out fires: Several teams have regular staff meetings, but they are usually dedicated to putting out fires and not for tracking results. The Check-in reverses that: we will begin by tracking our OKRs.
  • Focused on improving results and not on giving excuses: Focus on how are you going to improve your OKRs and not on listing all the excuses you can think of.

3) Make it a Practice, not a Process

Teams in low performing organizations often view OKR as merely another business process. They see it as another form they have to fill, in a bureaucratic exercise akin to an expense report.

On the other hand, high-performance teams see OKR as a practice. Something that they regularly do as part of their work.

4) Whats in it for them?

The only way to be truly successful with OKR is to ensure that the teams understand the benefits that it brings to them. How will they benefit from OKR?

We have 50 years of scientific evidence proving that having ambitious, specific goals improve performance. By using OKR, teams will improve their performance and be more successful and engaged. But employees have to understand that OKR is not only about the company, it’s also about improving their work as a team.

Additional Material

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