Six Questions to Help your New Year Resolutions Succeed
By: Siimon Reynolds, author of Why People Fail: The 16 Obstacles to Success and How You Can Overcome Them (Jossey-Bass, 2011)
New year resolutions are easily made — and just as easily forgotten.
The fault often lies in the questions we choose to ask as we formulate our resolutions.
These six questions from author Simon Reynolds will help you generate new year resolutions for both personal and business success in the year ahead.
Excerpted from the book, Why People Fail: The 16 Obstacles to Success and How You Can Overcome Them by Simon Reynolds (Wiley, 2011).
1. What Would I Do If I Knew I Couldn’t Fail?
This is a classic question, because it gets to the very core of your self – image and life dreams. It forces you to take a long, hard look at what you want out of life and what you believe deep down you deserve.
Are you thinking too small? Are you putting unnecessary limits on your life? Take a few minutes now and remove the shackles from your mind.
What have you oft en dreamed about but just assumed was impossible to achieve? What would you really love to do with your life? Make a list of your wildest, most exciting dreams. Come on, try it now — it’ll only take a few minutes.
Now ask yourself, are they really impossible? How could I make them happen? And furthermore, even if I couldn’t achieve them would I learn a lot and have mountains of fun at least trying?
2. What Could Go Wrong?
Get into the habit of asking yourself this fundamental question whenever you’re at the crossroads of a major decision. I use the following system developed by Edward de Bono, the famous thinking expert, whenever I need to decide my future direction.
First I create three columns that look like this:
Under the first column, I list all the positives of making a particular decision. Then I force myself to evaluate all the negatives and write them in the second column. (Generally there is no decision that doesn’t have at least some negatives if you think deeply enough about it.)
Often after filling out the Negatives column I decide the venture is not for me. But if I’m still unsure, I progress to the Interesting column.
In the Interesting column you list all the less obvious aspects of the situation — other people’s thoughts, situations that may be similar to yours, what your intuition says, and so on.
Often it’s the Interesting column that really makes your pathway clear. I find it usually helps clarify my position pretty quickly and adds much more depth and texture to my thinking.
3. How Could I Make 10 Times More Money?
It takes a certain amount of courage to treat this question seriously.
Many people scoff at the notion that it’s even possible to earn 10 times more than they currently do. But that’s exactly what makes the question so potent.
Suspend disbelief for a moment and imagine that you could actually achieve this. How would you do it? What would you have to learn? Who would you need to partner with? What type of person would you have to become?
4. What Would X Do?
This question is terrific when you find yourself in a tricky, complex situation you’re having difficulty solving.
It’s a simple technique. All you do is think of someone you admire or who is renowned in your field and ask yourself what they would do if they were in the same situation.
Literally pretend you are them for a few minutes. How would they strategize? What tactics do you guess they would employ? What would their attitude be on an issue like this one?
5. How Could My Competition Defeat Me?
Try this quick exercise. Imagine that you work for your competitor.
How would you beat your company? Where are your weak points? Where don’t you stack up against the competition?
Make a list of 3 – 5 areas where you’re not absolutely superlative, then come up with ways to improve them.
Constant refinement and innovation are compulsory if you are to remain at the top of your industry.
Discover your flaws before other people do, then eradicate them before your competition even knows they exist. That is the secret to long – term superiority.
6. What’s the Best Use of My Time Right Now?
This basic question can be a rudder for your whole life. Keep coming back to it again and again and you’ll see it work its magic on your results.
It forces you to get back to doing what’s important, not just what is urgent or what pops up in your email.
The great thing about this question is that it’s not about quantity, it’s about quality. And it points the way through the jungle of to–dos toward the one or two tasks that really count.
Siimon Reynolds, author of Why People Fail: The 16 Obstacles to Success and How You Can Overcome Them (Jossey-Bass, 2011), is mentor to business leaders worldwide. Winner of numerous business awards, he co-founded the 15th largest marketing services company in the world, with operations in 14 countries. His books have been published in ten countries.