The View from HR

Start the year right with passion and a doable plan

December 29, 2012 

January resolutions fail most of the time. I will eat cookies and you might find yourself relaxing on the couch instead of being at the gym by mid-February. I wish it were not so.

Pop psychology tells us the commitment and urgency to get us to follow through with these goals usually just is not there. At some point, the current pain exceeds the perceived future gain.

This is why I suggest that you try something different this year: the Anti-Resolution.

The Anti-Resolution gets pain and gain in the right order: This is something you want to do, it brings immediate satisfaction and the end result is an even bigger payoff. Almost all gain and relatively little pain!

What? This sounds like apple pie a la mode for breakfast each day? Not so. Pie for breakfast is not good for you. Anti-Resolutions are good for you.

Here is an example. In order to get a higher-paying role with more responsibility, the right conditions must be in place. Your manager trusts you based on past experiences. You show aptitude and desire for the role. You want the role for the right reasons (not just a pay raise). You are willing to do what it takes to get ready.

The Anti-Resolution is little more than identifying gaps between today and tomorrow. If tomorrow is something you have a passion to achieve, all you need is a plan you can follow. That is the magic of an Anti-Resolution! Start with a genuine desire and add a doable plan.

That higher-paying role may require little more than a conversation with your manager and listening well to the gaps identified. If your manager says, “You have to get experience leading a team before you can become a supervisor,” the plan is clear. Ask for that experience, seek it out, and assume the role where there is a floundering group with no clear direction. Put a date next to the needed action.

Technical skills, soft skills, experience, risk taking, open communication, trust, and perceptions: All can be shaped with a reasonable plan. No one cares more about the Anti-Resolution than you. Show others your passion and commitment with a concrete plan to reach your goal.

Sure, parts of your plan may be unfamiliar. The path to success is rarely smooth. Gaps in your skills or experience may take time to fill and require a willing mentor. The magic of an Anti-Resolution is not that it is easy, but that it is something you really want.

Personal goals, financial needs, children’s futures and the right care for an elderly parent are all good candidates for an Anti-Resolution.

Lack of a plan causes more good ideas to fail than a lack of good ideas.

The usual New Year’s Resolution starts with an ought-to-do or a need-to-do. Unlike the cookies or the fitness program, Anti-Resolutions start with a passion (a want-to-do) and simply bring order to the process.

Go ahead and make some traditional resolutions for 2013. But if you want to place a higher percentage bet on your future and the goals you really want to achieve, try an Anti-Resolution.

Bruce Clarke, J.D., is president and CEO of CAI Inc., a human resource management firm with locations in Raleigh and Greensboro that helps organizations maximize employee engagement while minimizing employer liability. For more information, visit

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