Thoughts

Failure is part of the plan: making new year’s resolutions

I’ve never really made new year’s resolutions, and it’s probably for the best. Only 8% of people who make resolutions actually keep them. So why fight a losing battle?

But I see the attraction. Resolutions are usually full of personal growth and all the excitement of being a ‘better you’.

I don’t know why we don’t apply this concept to our businesses and our careers as well. Not only should we aim to become better people but also better leaders, better innovators.

I wonder what the statistics are on business leaders and innovators setting goals for the new year only to abandon their efforts as soon as they hit a roadblock?  We do this in our personal resolutions all the time. We get so excited, we might even make a plan to go along with our resolutions, only to fall short, become disheartened, and ultimately, give up.

I fail so much

While I don’t generally make New Year’s resolutions, I do set personal goals for myself all the time. I literally can’t even count how many times I’ve said I’m going to get back in shape, only to go to the gym once that week and binge Netflix the rest of the time. So. Many. Times.

Even when I make a plan: okay, I’m going to go for a walk on Monday, play volleyball Tuesday and Thursday, and go to the gym Wednesday and Friday. Okay, great plan. Now where’s the remote?

And I know why I’m not reaching my goal. Because I’m not willing to accept that I’m never going to follow through perfectly. I set these great goals and resolutions, make lofty plans, and then get overwhelmed, miss one part of the plan, and it all falls apart. Maybe I went for a walk on Monday, played volleyball on Tuesday, but then I overslept on Wednesday and missed the gym. Shoot. Now I’m discouraged and think, I just can’t do this, all because I missed one day. This little seedling of discouragement is in my mind now, and I’m more disposed to abandon my efforts. 

Progress not perfection

Failure should be part of the plan. Not in the sense that I’m going to intentionally sleep past my alarm clock, but in the sense that I know I’m not going to do this perfectly because, as much as I’d like to believe it about myself, I am not perfect.

We should be doing this in industry as well. Our resolutions ought to be about progress, not perfection. At Rocksauce, when we want to implement a new design or perhaps a new process to become more efficient in our work, we do so carefully and we follow a plan. But we know its not going to go exactly as we expect, and that’s a good thing: if we stick so perfectly to our plan that we never deviate, we might be missing out on opportunities for growth because we aren’t listening.

Make resolutions feasible

At Rocksauce we use a design sprint for new projects and we use a lot of design sprint techniques in our daily work. It seems like a new year’s resolution starts with setting a goal, but it actually starts with making sure that goal is solid, feasible, and is actually going to solve whatever problem you’re trying to solve. 

To get there, we use design sprint techniques (How Might We notes, dotmocracy, storyboarding, etc) to brainstorm ideas and solutions. And then we figure out what the best solution, the best goal, the best resolution is.

Once we’ve done the hard work of discerning a solution, we consider how to accomplish it. What is a feasible plan to reach our goal, to implement the solution? Even then, we have to test it, and make sure it’s actually going to resonate with others as well. And guaranteed, when we test, we’re going to “fail” because it won’t resonate as perfectly as we’d like it to. Instead of giving up on because it didn’t work perfectly, we learn and adapt and make it better. We do this as a team, with focus, resolve, and an aim to have a positive impact on the business as a whole.

Innovate or stagnate

Throughout this process we’re not exactly changing direction, but we are listening and willing to adapt as needed. We are whittling down these vast, lofty goals and resolutions and all of the user feedback that we receive into something that is not only feasible but also packs a punch once it is fully implemented. Because if we’re not innovating, then we’re stagnating.

Imagine if we did this for our personal new year’s resolutions as well as our professional ones. I bet more than 8% of people would actually follow through. I bet there’d be a lot of really efficient, confident people by the end of the year. Instead of treading water endlessly in their attempts to improve, they would be on top of the world, excited that they finally achieved the results they focused so carefully on.

A Rocksauce Design Sprint is 5 days. Just 5 days of brainstorming solutions, coming to a common goal, prototyping, testing, and devising a plan to move forward. If you’re interested in using a Rocksauce Design Sprint to innovate at your company and get the year started with focus and resolve, then give us a call at 866.981.6847 or send us a message. We want to help you solve your biggest problems.

Next Article: User Testing the Holiday Snack Mix

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