What is Your New Year’s Resolution?

“Out of our beliefs are born deeds; out of our deeds we form habits; out of our habits grows our character; and on our character we build our destiny.” – [Henry Hancock]

“The common denominator of success – the secret of success of every man who has ever been successful – lies in the fact that he formed the habit of doing things that failures don’t like to do.” – [Albert Grey]

“Successful people form habits that feed their success, instead of habits that feed their failure.” – [Jeff Olson]

It’s that time of the year.  Time to leave the past behind and look ahead to the future.  With the New Year come new opportunities.  A chance to set new goals.  A chance to change bad habits.  A chance to do something different.

For many, the changing of the calendar brings with it the opportunity for ‘New Year’s Resolutions’.  An opportunity to make a clean break and establish new habits that are better for us.  Habits that often involve improving our health or our relationships.  And since you are all too familiar with those traditional resolutions, I thought I might offer a different perspective.

I was recently reading an article from Dave Ramsey, a fairly well known celebrity Financial Advisor whose lessons are often candid yet appropriate, and whose style is to hit you in the face with the facts and let you decide whether to choose the right path.  His expertise is on helping individuals achieve financial freedom, but his insights can be applied to those wanting to elevate their leadership and influence to a similar level.

In this particular article, Mr. Ramsey offered an interesting perspective on people’s habits.  His team compared the habits of those considered ‘wealthy’ vs. those considered ‘poor’.  I recognize wealth does NOT equal success, but the parallels are interesting and worth a deeper look.

His article listed the top 20 things rich people do (a link to this article can be found here).  For brevity, I’ve combined a few and listed the ten items that struck me the most:

  1. 70% of wealthy eat less than 300 junk food calories per day. 97% of poor people eat more than 300 junk food calories per day.
  2. 80% of wealthy are focused on accomplishing some single goal. Only 12% of the poor do this. 67% of wealthy write down their goals vs. 17% of poor.
  3. 76% of wealthy exercise aerobically four days a week. 23% of poor do this.
  4. 86% of wealthy love to read vs. 26% of poor.  88% of wealthy read 30 minutes or more each day for education or career reasons vs. 2% of poor.  63% of wealthy parents make their children read two or more non-fiction books a month vs. 3% of poor.
  5. 81% of wealthy maintain a to-do list vs. 19% of poor.
  6. 70% of wealthy parents make their children volunteer 10 hours or more a month vs. 3% of poor.
  7. 80% of wealthy make Happy Birthday calls vs. 11% of poor.
  8. 6% of wealthy watch reality TV vs. 78% of poor.
  9. 84% of wealthy believe good habits create opportunity luck vs. 4% of poor.  76% of wealthy believe bad habits create detrimental luck vs. 9% of poor.
  10. 86% of wealthy believe in lifelong educational self-improvement vs. 5% of poor.

As you read through this list you can’t help but be struck by the themes.  Those that focus on their own health and mental development tend to be the wealthiest.  They take control of their destiny, but more importantly, believe they own it.

I believe these themes translate well to leadership.  Not a bad starting point for your New Year’s Resolutions, is it?


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