The Problem with New Years Resolutions

Ping Pong TableAs a client of Pitzl Financial, you have likely heard us reframe the modern concept of “Wealth.” While most people today associate the word with being materially rich, the origins of the word can be traced to Middle English, when it meant “the condition of well-being or happiness.”

As we entered the New Year, our office decided to practice what we preach and took a step to increase the “wealth” of the Pitzl & Pitzl and Pitzl Financial teams by investing in our social / cultural capital — we purchased a Ping Pong Table for our newly expanded office space.

However, over a week after the table’s arrival, it remained in scattered pieces on the floor of our office.

An unexpected problem presented itself after we ripped open the box. The table came in a lot of pieces and is quite time consuming to put together! To make matters worse, the tools we have were ill-suited for the task.

Instead of simply finding the right tools to overcome this obstacle, we decided to take 15 minute shifts working on the table to break the frustration into bite size pieces. Unfortunately, this led to a lack of cohesion, and the wrong bolts were used on several shifts (not mine of course). One person’s 15-minute shift would be spent undoing the work of the previous person’s 15 minutes, and we found ourselves no closer to playing Ping Pong than on the day the table arrived.

What was meant to increase the happiness of the office has become a source of frustration. Even worse, we were reminded of it each time we had to dodge the scattered table components on the way to the restroom.

Such can be the case with New Year’s Resolutions.

When we make resolutions, we express a desire to overcome our natural inclinations to do something that we know is better for us. What stands in the way of sticking to our resolutions is what author Shawn Anchor describes as activation energy, or the amount of energy it takes to go from not doing something to doing whatever it is you hope to accomplish.

Activation energy is the reason we fail to keep our New Year’s resolutions over and over again.

We all are excited to break-up the workday with a little ping pong, yet the difficulty of assembling the table without the right tools requires a level of activation energy that makes the task unpalatable. However, the amount of energy needed to get over this hump would have been dramatically reduced if one of us simply brought in a socket wrench from home.

As a way to reduce the amount of activation energy required for clients and prospective clients to follow through on their financial resolutions, we have made appointment scheduling possible with the click of a button. For some people, picking up the phone to schedule a meeting requires just enough activation energy to keep them from taking that first step.

Like the “Click To Schedule” button on our website, there are simple steps we can all take to reduce the amount of energy required to make our New Year’s resolutions a reality. If you want to learn an instrument, leaving it out in plain view instead of the closet may lower the barrier enough to get you going. Or maybe buying a Magic Bullet blender will reduce the mess of making healthy smoothies just enough to help you make wiser eating choices in 2017.

Give some thought to the history of your unresolved New Year’s resolutions. Perhaps they just required too much activation energy to gain the momentum needed, so consider what small steps you can take to lower the barrier. As for me, I will be bringing a socket wrench to the office next time!