New Year’s Resolutions Don’t Work

December 29, 2017

And why would they?

As the clock strikes midnight and you’re watching the New Year’s celebrations on TV, or staggering around arm in arm with friends trying to remember the words to Auld Lang Syne, what suddenly changes when you wake up the next day that means it will all be different to how it was yesterday?

Not a lot- it’s another day. That’s not to say that those strong-willed folk that decide to embark on a dry January, or to get fit this year, or whatever their goal is won’t do it, especially when they’ve shared it with friends and family on Facebook or Instagram. But after the flurry of screenshots from the Garmin showing a 3 mile run begin to subside, we then witness the ‘Enough Already’ photos of a glass of wine a week later as the short-lived enthusiasm recedes and people become consumed by the comfort of their previous way of life.

That’s why new year’s resolutions often don’t work; people are too comfortable with how their lives already are. Whilst they might harbour some idealistic fantasy of weighing less, exercising more and generally being a ‘better’ person, when it comes to it, it’s all a bit too hard.

The thing I’ve learnt most about people and their ability to change over the past twenty years or so, is that people only truly change when it becomes harder to stay where they are than to move in a new direction. That applies in pretty much any situation, whether they are stopping smoking, deciding to find a new job, or instigating some other significant change in their life’s journey.

For most people, they like the idea of changing for the better, and they start along a path with reasonably good intentions. But before too long, the means don’t justify the end at which point they announce that this year they’re going to work on being ‘happy being me’, which of course might be a very good thing, but could also be code for never having really committed to what they were apparently striving to achieve in the first place.

When do people actually change?

We’re all familiar with the examples of the person that had a heart attack and three years later runs their first marathon. Or someone in a destructive relationship that decides one day ‘no more’ and channels their every ounce of strength into rebuilding their identity and their life. Or the person made redundant from a job who re-surfaces a year or two later running their own business or spending their days doing things they’re passionate about.

So what is it in these examples that is common to people really being able to effect long-term change? Well in my eyes, it’s two things. Firstly, a goal: something people can see vividly in their mind’s eye that they can move towards, however far away they are from it at the start. Secondly, a huge motivation to move away from their current situation, with an unshakeable commitment that enough is enough. The combination of these powerful factors transforms people and their lives, but most of the time it doesn’t work because of the absence of one, or even both of these two factors. And most of the time that’s ok, because for many people they were pretty happy anyway; if they hadn’t been, they would have summoned up some greater motivation.

So for what it’s worth, I’m not going to change a lot next year. I’ll gently encourage myself to go to the gym a few more times than I have done this year, to eat more healthily more consistently, to drink more water, less coffee and less wine, and to make the time with my family really count.

But really, this article’s not about me. Next year is going to be a year of massive change for the company that I represent, Capital International Group. Our year of change is not change that’s being dreamed up in the last week or two of the year to be downloaded onto my directors in their appraisals in January, but change that we’ve been working on for the past couple of years.

All being well, we will launch the Isle of Man’s first new bank in over 25 years in 2018 under the island’s new Alternative Banking Regime.

We’ll continue our growth in our South African office which only opened four years ago and now has grown to employ twenty staff and will contribute about 20% of Group revenues next year.

We’ll continue to develop our brilliant people and attract the best talent to the Group, and in doing so we will create a really different, energised, challenging and fun culture to work in.

We’ll continue to put our clients at the heart of our business, and deliver the best products and service to them as we have done for the past 21 years.

No new year’s resolutions for Capital International Group; just a determined and focused push along the same path that we are already travelling.

In the meantime, whatever you decide to focus on for 2018, I wish you all the best. To our people, our clients and friends of the Group, thank you for your support throughout 2017, and I hope you have had a splendid Christmas period and have a prosperous 2018.

Greg Ellison


Capital International Group

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