Abandon Your New Year’s Resolutions – NOW!

I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions or goals. Enough with them already! I’m actually an advocate for abandoning them altogether.

How’s that for an opening statement as we begin to settle into 2014?

It is so time to focus less on goals and more on the “game” we want to be playing in our life. The best way to explain this shift is to use the metaphor of sports. Think football, since this is playoff season and the Super Bowl is right around the corner.  Of course we want our team to win and the way to do that is by scoring goals (or points). A good team knows that the goals (or points) are scored based on the game they are playing along the way.

Goals have a useful purpose in sporting events, as well as in life and in business – no doubt about that. Yet, sometimes our fixation on goals (a deep-rooted comfort zone, by the way) narrows our vision to the point that we miss out on the larger context.

Imagine what life would be like if you focused on your compelling purpose, something that’s deep in your heart yearning to take life?

Often, when I talk about focusing on compelling purpose rather than goals, corporate executives jump on the concept. For many of them, it’s a reminder; it’s not a new idea, yet it gets lost in the day-to-day grind of execution and results-oriented thinking. It’s as if a light goes on. They love it at first. Then they slide back into their default mode: “But we still need to grow profits. How are we going to do that?”

My role is to help them make that paradigm shift, to think in fresh ways and to inspire them that there are profits at the end of the rainbow. As I nudge them toward their bigger games, they tense up and have trouble breathing. So, I say a magic word:


When Apple’s co-founder the late Steve Jobs stepped down from daily leadership and the organization brought in a new CEO from Pepsi, the leadership focus shifted to hitting the numbers. Profits, not innovation, became the primary goal, and the mighty brand that Jobs had created lost its way.

Meanwhile, after being booted out of his own company, Jobs licked his wounds for a while and then took his passion for innovation and creativity to Pixar Animation Studios and NeXT, which he revived as a major entertainment company. He sold Pixar to Disney and NeXT to Apple before returning as CEO to Apple, which was in great need of rejuvenation.

Jobs shifted the focus of Apple from simply manufacturing personal computers and laptops to serving as an entertainment company that seeks to delight its customers with innovative and beautifully designed products. “That’s what a lot of customers pay us to do . . . to try to make the best products we can,” he said. “And if we succeed, they’ll buy them. And if we don’t, they won’t. And it’ll all work itself out.”

The result of Steve Jobs’s shift to a bigger game is one of the greatest turnarounds in business history, and it started during a recession. It was driven by a hard-nosed businessman whom some have described as a tyrant. But you can’t argue that Jobs lacked passion. He was driven to make products that customers love, which instills a culture of creativity and innovation. He focused less on Apple’s being a computer company and more on its becoming an entertainment company with products such as iTunes and iPods at first, and then the iPhone. We all know how that worked out!

Naming our goals and resolutions is a great concept – especially as we begin a New Year. And yet many times it does not generate the outcome we desire… it’s easy to get stuck and then simply let the goal slip away. I like to use the Apple example with my clients to have them focus less on their goals and more on the “game” they want to be playing with their life.

When this happens a paradigm shift occurs and creativity and innovation are sparked. You won’t get stuck on how. Instead, you innovate and create solutions as a natural result of the positive energy and excitement generated by your compelling purpose.

Many of us have weight loss as part of our New Year’s resolutions. Good goal, right? And, what’s behind that goal? Could it be healthier living? Looking good? Being more active? More than likely it’s not just about weight loss. Therefore, what are you really working towards? Shift the paradigm. Stop aiming towards The Loose 10 lb. Goal, and say yes to the Healthier Lifestyle Game this year. Set yourself up for success. I call it playing your bigger game. Focus on the big picture – your bigger game – and your goals will be met with fun and ease.

As we move into 2014, forget about your goals and resolutions for this year and instead ask yourself, “What is the game I want to be playing this year?”


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  • Caroline Anzur Reply

    Thank you for this! I have been trying to wrap my arms around why my traditional New Year’s goal list was “not working for me”. This new frame of what game I want to play this year immediately loosened up my thinking and was exactly the perspective I was looking for! Happy 2014. Caroline

  • Pat Obuchowski Reply

    Great reminder that I need to keep heading back to what is my Game and remembering for the sake of what? It is then that I get re-inspired to keep moving forward. Instead of “Go for the Goal.” it has become “Go for the Game.”

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