​​Resolutions Are Overrated

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This Sunday morning, the Starbucks was eerily silent. Three baristas; no waiting. This was in direct contrast to what I had seen the last few weeks; a glut of holiday drinkers lined up to and outside the door waiting for gingerbread lattes, peppermint cappuccinos, pumpkin scones, and, on very rare occasions, a cup of coffee. I commented on the customerless void and one employee replied that it happened every year. People made resolutions to not drink as much coffee, not take in as many calories, and not spend as much money, resulting in a "slow" time for the store. The four of us discussed it as each one of them prepared one of my three items. (Nice the way that worked out; gave each of them something to do.) 

In that time, we all agreed – resolutions are overrated.

Yes, 'tis the season. And, while psychologists, psychiatrist, sociologists, therapists, analysts, homeopaths, mystics, and statistics all agree that making resolutions seldom has s long-term impact on the way anyone acts, many people still fall into the resolution habit. (And, for what it's worth, some of the mystics and statistics feel that such an annual reaffirmation is a good thing. Of course, keep searching and you'll find someone who agrees that anything is beneficial – primal screams, EST, leeches, vegetables, the movies of James Cameron, internal audit – but I digress.)

Richard Chambers has made a habit of starting the year by posting resolutions on his blog, and I would suggest it is worth your time to go take a look​. This year, loathe as I am to jump on the resolution bandwagon, I'm going to take my own stab at it. No explanations; just some thoughts on things we can all do that might make us better auditors, better professionals, and, maybe accidently, better people.

This year I resolve to:

  • Read voraciously. As a corollary, make sure that the majority of that reading is not related to work.
  • Strive to make one big mistake this year – then brag about it.
  • (Adapted from Tom Peters) Every once in a while, stop and think "When was the last time I went to the edge and did something daring, something that challenged the status quo, something that scared the surety out of me"; then do it.
  • Show up to meetings on time (even if it isn't my meeting.)
  • Let people know they matter – compliment a friend, thank a co-worker, hug a loved one, tell the editors that the help they've provided over all the years is appreciated.
  • Not rewrite a report more than two times.
  • Go to a Disney park and let the little kid run free.
  • Not take the easy way out. To quote Tony Isabella, "Expediency is not courage." As a corollary, take the easy way if that is the right way.
  • Have no more than four – no wait, make that three – measures of success. (And none of them can have sub-measures.)
  • Have no PowerPoint slide with more than four bullet points, and no bullet points within those slides with more than seven words. (I just made these numbers up. I know there are studies about what the exact numbers should be, but you get the idea.) (By the way, this one is dedicated to Shauna.)
  • In every conceivable instance, make one-hour meetings end in half an hour.
  • Listen to good music.
  • Be passionate about anything I'm doing. As a corollary, find the passion that exists within anything I do.
  • Not micromanage. As a corollary, find out if I micromanage. (Unless you ask, even your best friends won't tell you.)
  • Not overuse the words "assume", "no", "ineffective", and "corollary".
  • Go to an IIA conference, seminar, etc. (No remunerations were involved in this endorsement.)
  • Do something insane that seems perfectly sane to me and only me.
  • Take the trash out without being asked. (Honest, that one is deeper than it seems – think about it.)
  • Be courageous.

Yeah, most of these are common sense, but what resolution isn't. After all, resolutions are really nothing more than a reaffirmation to do the things we know we should already be doing.

I'd also like to add one more that is just for me. Year before last, I did a little experiment with this blog where I focused on following a more structured approach to posting. Time to try it again. My resolution to you is this: I will provide content every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday (holidays, vacations, and the internet willing.) Monday will be on general topics, Wednesday I will try my best to be funny (jury has always been out on that one), and Friday will just be quick hits – thoughts expressed in 200 words or less.

Here's to a successful new year, one that includes fulfilling our promises to ourselves.

​The opinions expressed by Internal Auditor's bloggers may differ from policies and official statements of The Institute of Internal Auditors and its committees and from opinions endorsed by the bloggers' employers or the editors of Internal Auditor. The magazine is pleased to provide you an opportunity to share your thoughts about these blog posts. Some comments may be reprinted elsewhere, online or offline.



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