Everywhere you look today, people are talking about New Year’s resolutions. Ones they made last week and some they’re adding this week. They’re talking about how much weight they want to lose. What activities to get involved in. And how this year is going to be different from last year. But for most, New Year’s resolutions are usually a steep uphill climb. Things that most people don’t finish. Given that, I propose that it’s better to have Wildly Important Goals than resolutions.
What is a Wildy Important Goal you ask? In a recent blog post about WIGs I said I use the term WIG to describe those things that I’m most interested in pursuing. The game changing ideas that you want to relentlessly work toward for as long as necessary. The ones that not only keep you up randomly until 3am when everyone else is sleeping but that also wake you up at 5am when the sun hasn’t risen yet. In business school, they’re the ones you skip the best party of the year to work on when everyone else is out.
In part, it’s because there’s only so much time we can bring to each commitment and that having too many resolutions will dilute” your effort. Further, having too many goals also means you’re not able to focus as well.
In a recent post by fellow blogger Erica Hawan, Erica talked about how great leaders of our time know how tofocus on what matters most. She gave the example of Jim Collins. who rejected what seemed like great career moves to go back to his hometown Boulder, Colorado and work on the sole question of ‘what makes great companies tick’ and on his books. In the end, he came up with a few masterpieces that we’ve all heard of: Good to Great, Great By Choice, How the Mighty Fall and Why Some Companies Never Give In.
In the same spirit, I propose that it’s more important to identify game changing goals than to set resolutions where there aren’t any real consequences for not achieving them. Where there’s no real skin in the game. So find those game changing goals and pursue those relentlessly. Move the other things to the side and put a stake in the ground. Whether it’s admissions to your top school. Finding a new job. Winning a competitive fellowship. Starting a new company. Or getting involved in that game changing nonprofit.
And so that’s my challenge for you for 2012 — Clear the clutter of resolutions. Think about what matters most. Write down your Wildly Important Goals. Draw out your plan and figure out how to make it happen!
Because in the end, the best leaders know that it’s important to not only make goals … but also to make goals that are achievable and that you’re wildly passionate about.