Is Your Health Club a Bar Yet?

By Brian Fippinger

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Ok, can you believe that January is two-thirds (2/3) over already? Yep, as I sit and type on this very snowy, very cold winter morning in Chicago it’s hard to believe that it is the 21st already.

So, how are your 2014 resolutions going so far?  The website Statistic Brain tells us that 45% of Americans make resolutions every year (while another 17% join in this fun tradition occasionally).  It also tells us that only 8% of these well intentioned souls are actually successful in achieving their stated resolutions.

Two of the top five 2014 resolutions (again, based upon the same survey) were to lose weight and get fit.  That could mean getting to the gym more, working out. A great cartoon was sent to me early in the month,  I am sure some of you have seen it, that said, "I am going to start a new health club and call it "Resolutions". For the first two weeks of the year it will have workout equipment in it. After that it converts to a bar". Very, very funny, but how many of you already have a membership to this club/bar?

For others of us, we have resolved that 2014 is the year we will make that career and/or life transition.  Whether that means we will change jobs, or change how we approach our current position, or we resolve to change careers, we are fully resolved to make that transition happen. 

So, why do so few of us succeed (8%) on our career resolution? How can we ensure that our career related resolution doesn't turn into a bar (or send us running to a bar for that matter!). First, we need to think differently about the entire resolution process.  This begins with the words we use to describe what we are undertaking. 

Fernando Flores, in his seminal piece on linguistics, "Building Trust: In Business, Politics, Relationships, and Life" puts it this way: "In language we build our own identities, our relationships with others, the countries that we live in, the companies we have and the values that we hold dear.  With language we generate life.  Without language we are mostly chimpanzees". So, let's see if we can evolve from the chimps as it relates to the subject of career transitions and our resolutions surrounding them. 

Second, what would it be like if we stopped using the word "resolution" and began using the word "declaration" ? Let's see how this might change our world.

Webster defines a resolution as:

  1. The act or process of resolving: 
  2. The act of analyzing a complex notion into simpler ones 
  3. The act of answering/solving 
  4. The act of determining

Resolutions are an outside act, dealing with a problem or issue outside one’s self. Is this really the world we want to create for ourselves?  A world where we are constantly trying to change from the outside in? How is that working out for most of us?  (Survey says, "92% failure!"). Like most changes that begin outside ourselves, resolutions are almost always temporary fixes. Declarations begin in our core, working their way from inside to outside.

Again, let's see what Mr. Webster has to say about declarations:

  1. The act of declaring 
  2. Anouncement
  3. Something that is declared (a declaration of love) 
  4. A statement made by a party to a legal transaction usually under oath

A declaration is not superficial, it is something we believe deeply and we are making known to the world.  A declaration comes from the heart (see #3). What a different world we create for ourselves when we make a "declaration" to change versus a "resolution" to change!

One is easy to break since we have no real "skin the game" so to speak. We can resolve to do anything. BUT, if we declare it we are making a vow....we become the commitment, we don't make a commitment. How much more successful would we be, if we just change that one word!

How would you treat your career aspirations if you were to declare them and become the commitment; instead of simply resolving to work on them, which world do YOU want to live in?

In the next installment, we will look at the "worlds of transitions" versus "transformation".



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