Beware of the Paradox of Resolutions this New Year

    • Made any New Year’s resolutions? You need to know this…

      Recently I learnt that psychologists are beginning to realise something I’ve known for quite a long time – willpower is overrated.

      You see, the recent article by Business Insider sums it up well. “Our results suggest that the path to better self-regulation lies not in increasing self-control, but in removing the temptations available in our environments,” the researchers concluded. In other words, you have no ability to self-regulate or exert willpower over something you’ve set your mind towards. Zero. Nada! How can you set resolutions if you can’t resolve to do it? And yet, resolutions are good. We need them to improve ourselves, to make better choices and to live in a better world. Hence the paradox.

      This is of course, highly applicable in the work place as well. The research did not isolate a type of person or personality that has weak willpower, it didn’t discriminate. All of us are weak in our ability to act on our resolve. Imagine an organisation going through transformation and change… Hundreds or even thousands of weak-minded people trying to change their mindset to make a better organisation!

      So, as we make our personal or organisational resolutions this year, let’s be aware of the paradox of resolutions. By writing your resolution down on a page or a 60-page plan, and staring at it until you turn blue or making others read it will not change you or your organisation. We’re simply too weak-minded to do it this way. As we resolve to change or improve ourselves, we must recognise that change is good, but it may not be easy. We must remove obstacles, divert focus and make the change more exciting.

      Oh and Happy New Year! All the best to you in realising your New Year’s resolutions. Both personal and organisational.

      Best Regards,


  • About the Author

    Mervin Chiang

    CTIO, Procensol

    As Procensol’s Chief Technology and Innovation Officer Mervin brings more than a decade of experience in strategic thinking, software, systems and process-centric design for business transformation. Mervin is responsible for Procensol’s global consulting services and product portfolio. He is also responsible for global marketing and driving growth within the Asia Pacific region. Originally from Singapore and now based in Brisbane Australia, Mervin has held positions ranging from strategic BPM consulting, channel management to vendor product sales.

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