From Resolutions to Personal Manifestos

New Year’s resolutions do not work because of unconscious bias. The things we are trying to change have been deeply imbedded in our behavior since they makes us feel safe.

I have a family member who is a binge eater. She has gone on countless diets and made numerous resolutions to lose weight only to abandon them weeks into the New Year.

Her problem was not as simple as developing better eating habits. Her challenge was addressing the loneliness and disconnection she felt as she treated her pain with binge eating. Until she confronted the unconscious bias that the safety of binge eating created for her, she was unable to consciously accept new healthy eating behaviors.

Michael Hess, founder of Core 6 Management Advisors, has a better way. He claims we abandon resolutions and embrace personal manifestos.

The advantage of a manifesto is it is not tied to a specific timeframe or particular actions. It is a guidepost to keep you on course with the realization there will be successes and disappointments along the way. It is malleable and can be tweaked as necessary.

According to Hess, the first step in writing a manifesto is to jot down quotes from people and things that you admire. Next, follow up with thoughts about your current state in life, the direction you want to go and what is most important to you.

Then take the things that are most important to you and write statements that ensure the completion of those goals. For example, “My customers are important to me therefore, I will strive to listen more to their concerns and not dominate our interactions.”

Next, write down aspirations that reflect the ultimate life you would like to live. “I would like to increase the contributions to my retirement account or retire early.”

Finally, keep copies of your yearly manifestos and chart your progress or decline. Hess is on his 8th revised manifesto. By cutting yourself some slack from the yearly deadline of resolutions, rolling manifestos allow you to reflect on where you have been and where you need to go.

Most important of all, Hess suggests that you read your manifesto every couple of days out loud to remind yourself of the urgency of the changes you need to make. Reading it out loud makes the experience more in the moment.

Get started on your personal manifesto. It will help you move from focusing on what you do to why you do it.

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Christine Deng

I usually don’t stick to my New Year’s resolution. That is a good idea to create a personal manifestos instead. It is easier to follow through with a personal manifestos and envision what I aspire to be.