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Welcome to Risk Leadership Mindset. My blog on LinkedIn and our company’s website on growth, transformation and risk leadership.

In this blog, I will explain Why New Year's Evolutions Don't Fail.

When you read this, chances are that you are in a business role. Imagine you are in a commercial job, and you & your team haven’t met the monthly goal of January. Do you agree to drop your year target to muddle along? Right. I thought so.

Some of you read this because you are in my network, and so it is likely that you are a more than average enlightened leader. Will you subsequently tell your team they are a bunch of losers, worth nothing, and have them suffer because of their failure?

So why do we treat our personal new year resolutions so differently? It has always been a mystery to me. Ask my husband, and he will tell you, ‘Marischa doesn’t need January 1 to make resolutions’. But honestly: I never make resolutions. I treat the changes I want to see in my life as evolutions. Here’s why.

Understanding the difference between simple and easy is imperative. For example, what needs to happen to lose weight or stop smoking is incredibly simple. Just eat less and never touch a cigarette again—the what is simple but the how is not easy. Appreciating the complexity or even hardship of achieving such goals makes the challenge much more realistic. And from that realism, you can enable yourself with what’s needed to meet your target. Start supporting yourself with what you think will work most effectively for you! And when these enablers of choice don’t work, leave them out or replace them. You are in control. Adding enablers too little too late is the firefighting we want to avoid.

Next: let us look at what we tell ourselves. Does it start with have to? Let us see how to change these to want to. Have to goals are often told to us by others than ourselves. Better is to start defining goals starting with want to. Do you really have to run a marathon? Honestly, for most humans, a 42,195 meter run is pure torture. Do you like to walk your dog into the great outdoors? Start by enjoying longer walks. Next, add 5 minutes of runs to it. Expand what you enjoy! And then see whether you can start with a 10 km. As a runner, I greatly respect people who face their first 10 km challenge. From start to 10 km is a much harder training challenge than building out from a half to a full marathon.

Do you have to become the next iceman or -woman? Chances are that after two outdoor swims in January, you are still shivering at lunchtime, get sick and quit swimming. Maybe you have always liked the refreshed feeling of your one-minute new year’s dive. Well, why not start with having your shower end with refreshing cold water for one minute every morning? Then try to make that a second or ten longer every day until you have your cold-water-only shower. And when you feel your body is adjusted enough, you may dive into the ice-cold canals! Build positive & fun experiences and keep your eyes on the possible price.

There is a reason why the agile approach is seen in almost every corner of the business. Bring the want to at the heart of the experience through prioritizing what you need. Work in short cycles of achievements in response to those needs. And deliver the fun & positive experience early, often, and incrementally. Set small goals for smaller periods of time.

Last but not least: evolutions are not only approach-oriented and agile. They also rely on you having setbacks at some point in time. And setbacks are not the same as failure. And failure does not need to mean suffering. How do we break this negative cycle, which we all know so well, and have it spiral in the other direction? Suffering is often created because we resist failure. How can you fail when you try? You win some; you learn some.

When facing a setback, don’t resist. Face it and relabel it from I failed to I am human. When you don’t relapse on your evolutionary journey, you haven’t set big enough goals. Setbacks are opportunities to reflect & learn. Looking at them in any other way is a missed opportunity for further growth.

Evolutions are roadmaps getting you to a higher-order outcome driven by your wants based on a deep need for progress and development. There are many pathways to achieve your evolution, so if one doesn’t work, there are others to focus your energy on. Not only was Rome never built in one day, but there are also a zillion ways to reach Rome!

I trust that this blog has inspired you to think differently about setting goals for 2023. And that it will support you in becoming the best version of yourself in the new year in these unprecedented times riddled with uncertainty. But for now, I wish you a peaceful and relaxed holiday season.