New Year Revolutions

New Year Revolutions

Coming back to work in the New Year it’s impossible not to feel that it’s time for a new start.   

We’ve just had a break and time to reflect – and it’s natural to look back at the last 12 months.   

How many of us, our friends and colleagues hit the “New Year, new me” reset button?   This year dry January or ‘Veganuary’ have been all the rage.

This complete abstinence / fundamental change didn’t chime with me and it led me to ask “why does it always have to be an extreme?

New Year’s resolutions are famed for their failure, so maybe that’s all part of the fun and tradition too.  But it also highlights – in stark relief – the futility of trying for radical, instant change.

Firstly, have we really thought through what we’re doing before a radical 180-degree shift?   Let’s take the example of going Vegan – some would cite the environmental benefits as a factor in their decision.  But are there unintended consequences?  It turns out our smashed avacodo on toast isn’t reversing the trend of clearing the rainforests for livestock grazing – it’s leading to rainforest clearance to harvest avacados.  Something about roads, paving and good intentions …?

Secondly, what happens when we stop.  Inevitably we return to the thing we’ve given up with greater gusto – remembering just how much we loved it (how good will that first beer in 5 weeks taste?).  So we binge – with the rebound probably causing more damage than we would have if we’d just carried on as normal.

As anyone who has managed in business can testify, change is hard.  Sustaining change is even harder. Sometimes a radical approach is required but Balance – and in particular maintaining balance – is vital.   

All out purges in the name of improvement get a lot of attention – and indeed can provide a degree of focus – but they seldom seem to create long-term change.   Email free days to reduce the volume of email seem to have made little difference to our over-crowded inboxes.  All-out cost-cutting purges at year-end might mean hitting the finance target, but what happens in period 1 when everyone puts through the invoices they’ve been holding back?

As I look back on my own experience it seems that so often the things that improve rapidly are also the things that deteriorate quickly.  

Things that improve organically and over time tend to be more sustainainable.  

Making an improvement in our diet and lifestyle – particularly where there wider benefits on the economy and environment – are something we should all strive for.   But do it by degrees. The same goes for business. There’s balance between rapid change and slow and steady.

As somebody once said to me “Do everything in moderation – INCLUDING MODERATION!”.   So maybe it’s OK to have the odd binge, to blow-out once in a while, just to keep us in balance.