Fitter, Happier, More Productive: New Years’ Revolutions

The New Year is a time when many people make resolutions to be fitter, happier, more productive etc. For many of us, our promises to ourselves and our loved ones turn out to be forgotten by January 2nd. What then separates goals that become actions (Revolutions) from those that are merely vague ambitions (Resolutions)? Radiohead’s dystopian poem Fitter, Happier, More Productive outlines the problems of multiple goals and the pressures of modern living:

I guess many of us have heard of the SMART mnemonic for goal setting (Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Realistic and Time-based and this is well used in business when delegating goals. It can produce good results in terms of compliant behaviour, especially when those goals are reinforced via good reward and recognition strategies. When you are focusing on self-motivation and superior performance, the SMART mnemonic misses certain elements that are picked up in some of the models that sit inside the discipline called NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming). I’d pick out three elements that are missing in the SMART mnemonic and which matter crucially when focusing on personal goals:

Ownership: If you are really to excel in terms of personal performance, you must have a part in the goal, both from your head, heart, and soul. The head, heart, and soul piece is an important point – A while back I was approached by a man I vaguely knew, who sought to start a business based on his love for the book “The Secret”. He arrived in a Bentley and could easily articulate his financial goals (it turned out he had hired the Bentley later on in some odd attempt to impress me). Yet I discovered that had no idea why he wanted to do this in his heart other than some vague notions of being a fan of the book. I advised him that it would be a “vertical climb” from where he was and suggested he might be better starting his business based on the more solid foundations of his previous experience base rather than what was merely a “me-too” strategy. He ignored the advice. Six months later the tax authorities bankrupted him.
Ecology: This is not a call to environmental activism. The word ecology here means the idea of your goal fitting in with other aspects of your life. In the case of our Bentley owner, it became clear that his goal did not fit in with the ideas of his significant other aka his wife, who raided the business of money once she found out that the Bentley came with a young girlfriend, who promptly disappeared after he was arrested for trying to sell her “services” in a hotel. In my own case, when starting my business some 23 years ago, I insisted that my wife and I undergo detailed conversations about what we were about to do. I’m happy to report that this was time well spent.
Resourced: A goal is just a goal unless you are able to resource it. This usually means applying time, money and people to the goal. So many entrepreneurs I meet miss this point and the “secret” of “The Secret” is that it does not make the importance of resourcing your goal apparent. My Bentley man kept babbling that he had “manifested his abundance” and it would surely arrive. It’s nice to believe in fairies, but successful people believe in fairies and also do the hard work to realize their goals.

I’m delivering a free event at Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Lounge in London on Wednesday January 18, where I’ll be exploring goal setting with Lena Benjamin. Lena created EmpowerHER Global, an online community for female entrepreneurs. She also coaches executives who wish to start their own business and is a contributor to the Financial Times Guide to Management.

Good wishes with your New Years’ Revolutions !!


Peter Cook
Peter Cook
PETER leads Human Dynamics, offering Business and Organisation Development. He also delivers keynotes around the world that blend business intelligence with parallel lessons from music via The Academy of Rock. Author of and contributor to twelve books on business leadership, acclaimed by Tom Peters, Professors Charles Handy, Adrian Furnham, and Harvey Goldsmith CBE. His blends his three passions are science, business, and music into unique inspiring keynotes based on the art of storytelling. His early life involved leading innovation teams for 18 years to develop life-saving drugs including the first treatments for HIV/AIDS, Herpes and the development of Human Insulin. 18 years in academia teaching MBAs and 18 + years running his businesses. All his life since the age of four playing music. Peter won a prize for his work from Sir Richard Branson after his mother claimed he was a Virgin birth. He now writes for

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