“Daily habits and the rhythm of life take most of us captive, and we often end up doing what we’ve always done, and each year starts to look very much like the last…many of us make simple resolutions, like giving up alcohol, joining a gym, or cutting carbs” – from 10 Resolutions to make 2013 your best year ever article in Fast Company.
It’s the end of December 2012! This is the time of year to look back on the past 12 months, review successes, remember losses and thank those who’ve made 2012. For many, its also a time to look ahead to next year and think about “new years resolutions”.
The profiliferation of top 10 new years resolution posts (see Fast Company’s article quoted above) and new years resolution tweets annoys me. It is true that there’s nothing like a fresh start to change habits, behaviours and destinies, but the fact that as many resolutions are set are then broken renders the exercise pointless and a little discouraging.
The three that haven’t made it
Here are 3 repeat new years resolutions that for me, have never made it past January:
1 – To lose weight. It’s too vague. And coupled with ‘Go to the gym‘ is possibly the most unlikely to actually happen. Why? This resolution is made with the best of intentions, in a hypothetical world where visits to the gym replace visits to the kitchen entirely.
2 – To sleep more. It’s not me. I’m an overactive person, so do a lot. I have the same 24 hours that everyone else has, so something must suffer. Sometimes its mealtimes. Most of the time it’s sleep. I work 9 to 5, then 5 to 9.
3 – To stop dropping my phone in water. Old habits die hard. I have a fundamental belief that humans are worth more than devices. I can also be extremely clumsy. My numerous devices and belongings thus suffer. My trusty Blackberry 9900 has been submerged in water 4 times this year (not including large splashes and rain) and is dropped on average 5 times a day. The camera doesn’t work any more, but everything else functions.
To be fair, all of these resolutions are feasible (I believe anything is possible) but they haven’t happenend. This is my qualm with resolutions – they don’t happen. Habits need to be changed and real objectives need to be set.
Write the vision, make it plain
I’ve never been a ‘goal-setting’ kind of person (as per Habakkuk 2:2 – yep I quoted the Bible!) but last year, for the first time ever, I (internally) blogged my new years objectives: a list of things I wanted to achieve in 2012. Some were small: shop less often and do more public speaking. Some were a little bigger: get a friend onto TED and spend time working in New York. As the year went on, I felt like stating them and ‘making them plain’ helped. It served as a reminder to me, but also a reminder to others – and so a motivation to make sure they all happenend. This blog was one of those objectives.
One year on, I have two blogs (including an internal company one), more public speaking engagements, a TED video and far fewer shopping trips to look back on. The objective have happenend; they’re now habits. Contrary to what Derek Sivers suggests in the video above, I’ve actually done something new in 2012. As I look back on this blog, my 2013 new years objective emerges.
2013 is the year Stemettes begins.
My most enjoyable, popular and frequent posts (of the 12) have been on the troubles of women in technology – not enough, not self-promoting enough and not enough at senior levels. I want to tackle a large part of the problem. I want to help others. I want to help girls realise their destiny in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) careers.
So – this year I’m starting Stemettes – a series of events to inspire, connect and motivate the next generation of females into longlasting, happy STEM careers. Initial scope is the UK, but in ‘working out loud’ I hope that others will be able to participate – and I also hope to leverage formats, resources and lessons learnt from around the world. So far from initial emails and existing contacts, I’ve been able to get some great support in the form of O2 Think Big, Inspirational You, the Anita Borg Institute and the excellent Lopa Patel MBE.
The first panel event will coincide with International Women’s Day on March 8th, but I’m planning a launch party in February to get people excited and networking amongst the amazing women currently in the field. We’ll hold at least one hackathon and an exhibition before the end of 2013, and I’ve already been asked to do a school assembly.
If you know someone already in STEM, someone who could potentially find themselves in STEM, or someone looking for people in STEM, tell them to get in touch. I’ve set up email@example.com to collate ideas, enquiries and offers as well as a Twitter account – @stemettes.
Hopefully my 2013 ‘thank you list’ will be even longer than it has been in 2012.