Many view the start of a new year as an opportunity to make personal resolutions and commitments to self-improvement. You may vow to exercise more frequently, save more money, or reach a benchmark career goal. Unfortunately, according to research conducted by the University of Scranton, just 8% of people keep their New Year’s resolutions — though more than 40% of Americans make them.
Why do we fail to achieve these personal and professional results — and what steps can you take to ensure that you meet your goals for growth in the coming year?
Why New Year’s Resolutions Fail
There’s great value in setting meaningful, memorable, and measurable New Year’s resolutions, both in our personal lives and at work. The reason that people most often break these resolutions is not because they are too ambitious, but because they are too vague.
For example, you might resolve to go to the gym more often; but if you don’t have a measurable objective to work towards, such as going for three 5-mile runs each week, you are likely to lose sight of your resolution before January’s drawn to a close.
These resolutions should be guided by underlying beliefs and experiences that drive progress. While concrete benchmarks are certainly setting meaningful, a change of perspective is also required: if individuals choose to view their resolutions as a dynamic, ongoing dedication to positive growth, they can more readily achieve lasting, sustainable change.
Another reason that resolutions often flop is that they are not reinforced by positive principled accountability. Accountability, as defined by the New York Times bestselling book The Oz Principle, is the “personal choice to rise above one’s circumstances and demonstrate the ownership necessary for achieving desired results.”
When a person proactively takes accountability for delivering the results they want to see, they are better positioned to meet short-term goals and leverage creative problem-solving in order to hit crucial targets. This model of accountability can be applied to drive progress towards both individual goals and crucial deliverables in the workplace — simultaneously promoting individual growth and the success of the organization.
The Role of Accountability in the Workplace
Highly accountable teams are high-performing teams. When every employee takes personal accountability for delivering on Key Results, they are able to visualize and take ownership for existing roadblocks, creatively strategize ways to overcome those roadblocks, and implement effective solutions to achieve topline objectives.
However, high levels of accountability at work should not be seen as merely instrumental in achieving results, but as a desired Key Result in and of itself. Committing to increased accountability in the workplace not only drives organizational results but propels personal growth and happiness at work as well.
In fact, according to the results of our “Happiness at Work” survey, most employees agree that taking more accountability in the workplace has positively impacted their level of engagement at work. This is a critical connection considering that high levels of engagement translate to higher rates of overall job satisfaction — while low levels of engagement correlate with unhappiness at work.
As our research reveals, when employees are happier at work, 85% take more initiative, while nearly 50% say they care more about their work. What’s more, research conducted by the Social Market Foundation and the University of Warwick’s Centre for Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy found that happy employees are more productive overall.
Ultimately, making the personal resolution to take on more accountability generates a positive cycle of overcoming obstacles and proactively thinking in a way that delivers on the Key Results that your team, company, or you personally must achieve. Increased personal accountability fosters a strong sense of personal agency, ownership, and connection to one’s work that promotes happiness and personal growth.
Why wait until to make a commitment to the continuous improvement of your personal or organizational Key Results when you can make a change today?