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This time of year we're inundated flimsy goals and seasonal over-optimism, but before you throw up your hands and swear off resolutions for good, give this alternate New Year’s resolution strategy a try.

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It’s the first week of January, which means prime time for resolutions. Gyms are full of soon-to-disappear newcomers. Your personal conversations are probably full of friends’ and colleagues’ goals for the year ahead, and reporters’ inboxes are full of loads of similarly uninspired story pitches with titles like “How to Make Your Resolutions Stick!” and “10 New Year’s Career Resolutions.”

All this evidence of flimsy commitment, lack of creativity, and repeated failure is enough to make you throw up your hands and vow to give up the whole game of making New Year’s promises to yourself. But is there no way to salvage the noble impulse to make a fresh start for a fresh year and genuinely improve in the twelve months to come?

Ariana Good writing on Keith Ferrazzi’s myGreenlight Blog has an alternate to the traditional New Year’s routine. Her idea: Give up goals and focus on “needle movers” instead. What’s the difference?

Needle movers are things that will move the needle forward in your business or personal life – essentially goals that change your life fundamentally. While a goal is binary and can leave you feeling great or defeated, a needle mover ends with you either reaching your target (what you want), the minimum (what you are willing to accept), or a mind blowing result (beyond your wildest dreams!). You won’t always get the exact result you want but you will have moved the needle forward.

So rather than a binary proposition (you either drop that dress size or you don’t), needle-movers are more of an attention-focusing exercise. By targeting a certain, meaningful area of your life and then working steadily to improve it, you’re removing the paralyzing fear of failure that often overwhelms traditional resolutions. You’re also transforming the goal into a process to be accomplished over time rather than an end point to be reached, which may help keep focus from waning.

Of course, whether you approach changing your life as a matter of goals or needle movers, you’re unlikely to succeed if you’re not honest with yourself about what you really want, value and enjoy doing. So make sure you focus on making changes that will actually improve your business or your life and which jive with your fundamental personality, strengths and values. And if you need help deciding what’s worth focusing on to change, Copyblogger has suggestions—31 of them to be exact, rounded up from some of the most prominent voices from around the Web.

New Year’s Resolutions, do you love them or hate them?

Last updated: Jan 5, 2012

JESSICA STILLMAN

Jessica Stillman is a freelance writer based in London with interests in unconventional career paths, generational differences, and the future of work. She has blogged for CBS MoneyWatch, GigaOM, and Brazen Careerist.




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