12/18/2014 05:00 pm ET Updated Feb 17, 2015

This Year, Elevate Your Character With a New YOU Resolution


At year's end it is customary to make New Year's resolutions. But too often they are a complete waste of time. We make statements like "I want to become a better person" or "I want to read more." We choose goals based on expectations that are little more than popular societal norms we've encountered and internalized. Unfortunately, the goals we choose are suspect, and the way we commit to them is vague and ineffective. No wonder only eight percent of them succeed.

I believe you can raise the bar on your resolution success -- and along the way, elevate your personal and professional performance -- if you change your approach. You need a new you resolution!

A new you resolution upgrades your character This is about your behavior, not your to-do list. A new you resolution is about how you define your character through your actions. It's about finding what you need to do to upgrade your character:
  • How do I elevate my intelligence, my perspective, and my point of view?
  • How do I translate more of my efforts into impact and results, not just busywork?
  • How am I learning and growing, daily through each and every interaction?
  • Am I improving as a person -- who I really am vs. who I want others to think I am?
  • What are my real strengths that I can leverage more impactfully in support or service of others?
  • How am I shoring up my growing edges and making significant strides toward improving each?

These questions lead not just to things you need to do, but to aspects of the person you need to become. To make a new you resolution that results in lasting change, translate that introspection into a goal. Define the specific character "upgrade" you plan to make.

Connect the short-term to the long view
Those 92 percent of people who fail to keep their resolutions? They arrive at year's end saying, "Where did the time go!" They fail to connect their daily actions to their bigger goals.

Making a character upgrade requires a clear vision of the desired end, and a game plan to take you there. You'll need the mindset, the roadmap, and the toolset for self-improvement. That might mean attending forward-thinking conferences, or reading with more intention, or finding ways to surround yourself with people who are smarter, more driven, perceptive or persistent than you are.

Don't focus on the short term at the expense of the long view. If your goal is to become more influential in social media, don't fixate on today's changes in your follower and fan counts. Do you need some critical mass? Yes. But those social media stats are like day trading. People get excited about a stock going up by a penny today, two cents the next day. Then it's "Stop the presses, it's down by four cents" the day after. They're so busy with the short-term transaction they miss the long-term wealth generation opportunity of buying Apple at $17. The same is true of achieving your character upgrade.

To connect the "day trading" to long-term behavior modification, figure out ways to track your progress along the way. You must be able to make course correction as you go, not just arrive at the end of the year wondering, "Where did the time go?"

Start with "the man in the mirror"
It's very easy to look at others and be judgmental. "I would never dress that way." "That was a dumb question to ask." It's more difficult to look in the mirror. If we start there, it highlights some things we don't like about ourselves. It might be procrastinating, taking shortcuts, or, wasting time on relationships that show little promise for mutual benefit.

How is that person in the mirror bringing value to others? What character upgrade would allow you to bring more value to more people? The only job security any of us have is the perceived value we bring, on a daily basis, to those who pay us or otherwise support us with their time and resources. What's the perceived value that you bring to your customers, partners, and employees -- your relationship ecosystem? And have you checked that the value you think you're delivering is indeed what they feel they are receiving? Are they able to apply it for impact?

Unless you go into the new year with a new you resolution, you're going to keep doing the same thing and expecting different results -- and as Albert Einstein said, that's the definition of insanity. No wonder the vast majority fail. Make 2015 the year you install a transformative character upgrade instead.

Nour Takeaways
  1. A New YOU Resolution results in a character upgrade: real, lasting behavior change that elevates your personal and professional performance.
  2. To achieve that transformation, find ways to measure not just "what did I accomplish?" but "who did I become?"
  3. This holiday season, make time for introspection about the perceived value you bring to others, and what specific character upgrade would increase that value.