Look Back to Move Forward


Dear God, my prayer for 2013 is a fat bank account and a thin body. Please don’t mix these up like you did this year.

It’s January 1st, 2013.  The start of a new year and the time when most people make New Year’s Resolutions. Many are typical: lose weight, exercise more, read more, stop beating the wife (just kidding).  Some make a long list of improvements for the coming year, some a short list with just two or three important desires.  For those of you with a mind for data, here is a link to some New Year’s Resolution statistics. 

As you would imagine, the Top 10 list includes:

  1. Lose weight
  2. Get organized
  3. Spend less, save more
  4. Enjoy life to the fullest
  5. Stay fit and healthy
  6. Learn something new
  7. Quit smoking
  8. Help others achieve their dreams
  9. Fall in love
  10. Spend more time with family

Great improvement objectives. But sadly, almost all New Year’s Resolutions get abandoned and forgotten as the routines and habits of our lives take over.  After one month, 64% of New Year Resolutions are abandoned (I am definitely above the national average on that one).

This year I am taking a different approach.  Before making my New Year Resolutions, I have decided to look back at 2012 and ask myself the following question:

Which of my 2012 New Year Resolutions did I NOT accomplish, and importantly, WHY NOT?

The way I see it, if I can determine WHY I failed at a 2012 New Year Resolution and what is it about me that contributed to this failure, then I can perhaps avoid making the same mistakes in 2013.  I’m using the 5-Why principle here, keeping asking the question WHY until I reach the real root cause of my failure.

Was I not serious?  Did I fail to organise my daily routine to succeed? Did I rationalize away my objective (I’m not that fat…I look good with a bit of meat on me!).

Somewhere, but looking backward, I am confident I can go forward into 2013 with a set of New Year Resolutions and the wisdom to accomplish them.

I did, however, accomplish one of my key 2012 New Year Resolutions: Writing and publishing a business book – FASTBREAK: The CEO’s Guide to Strategy Execution.  I have printed copies being mailed to past and current clients and soon you will be able to find it on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk.

I’ll not talk about all my failed 2012 resolutions.  But I am determined to make 2013 better than 2012.  How about you?

Tight Lines . . .

John R Childress


About johnrchildress

John Childress is a pioneer in the field of strategy execution, culture change, executive leadership and organization effectiveness, author of several books and numerous articles on leadership, an effective public speaker and workshop facilitator for Boards and senior executive teams. In 1978 John co-founded The Senn-Delaney Leadership Consulting Group, the first international consulting firm to focus exclusively on culture change, leadership development and senior team alignment. Between 1978 and 2000 he served as its President and CEO and guided the international expansion of the company. His work with senior leadership teams has included companies in crisis (GPU Nuclear – owner of the Three Mile Island Nuclear Plants following the accident), deregulated industries (natural gas pipelines, telecommunications and the breakup of The Bell Telephone Companies), mergers and acquisitions and classic business turnaround scenarios with global organizations from the Fortune 500 and FTSE 250 ranks. He has designed and conducted consulting engagements in the US, UK, Europe, Middle East, Africa, China and Asia. Currently John is an independent advisor to CEO’s, Boards, management teams and organisations on strategy execution, corporate culture, leadership team effectiveness, business performance and executive development. John was born in the Cascade Mountains of Oregon and eventually moved to Carmel Highlands, California during most of his business career. John is a Phi Beta Kappa scholar with a BA degree (Magna cum Laude) from the University of California, a Masters Degree from Harvard University and was a PhD candidate at the University of Hawaii before deciding on a career as a business entrepreneur in the mid-70s. In 1968-69 he attended the American University of Beirut and it was there that his interest in cultures, leadership and group dynamics began to take shape. John Childress resides in London and the south of France with his family and is an avid flyfisherman, with recent trips to Alaska, the Amazon River, Tierra del Fuego, and Kamchatka in the far east of Russia. He is a trustee for Young Virtuosi, a foundation to support talented young musicians. You can reach John at john@johnrchildress.com or john.childress@theprincipiagroup.com
This entry was posted in Human Psychology, John R Childress, John's views on the world, Life Skills, Organization Behavior, Personal Development, Self-improvement and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Look Back to Move Forward

  1. mimijk says:

    Happy New Year John…Why do I send you my wishes for you to have a year full of all that makes you happy? Why would someone you don’t even know feel the desire to express such thoughts? Why? Why? Why? (Ok – that’s five). Because. 🙂


    • Mimi: Wishing you the very best for 2013. Can you believe it has been 13 years since the millennium? I remember as a kid thinking the year 2000 was sooooo far into the future I would probably be old and grey. Grey, yes, old, no, just better. Looking forward to more great posts from you in 2013.


      • mimijk says:

        I too can’t grasp this accelerated pace with which time passes..Remember when a season felt like it was forever? Grey? For sure (underneath my highlights – sorry). Better? In many ways. Certainly better for having ‘met’ you.


  2. From a global/financial perspective I would be happy just to have a very boring year. I think we have all had quite enough excitement to last a very long time. Wishing you and your family a happy, healthy, boring and prosperous New Year.


  3. Author, Father, Blogger…if only the rest could could accomplish 1/10th of what you get done John…Happy New Year to you. Dave


  4. alan@landmarkconsulting.co.uk says:

    Hello John

    Many thanks for this interesting posting.

    While a ‘five whys’ approach can often be useful (especially in terms of identifying what to do and why), I’d also like to recommend the concurrent application of a ‘five hows’ approach.

    For instance, if one of your personal goals for 2013 is “to organise (your) daily routine to succeed”, then you need to ask yourself how you will achieve this, rigorously going through potentially five levels of questioning before you arrive at specific actions.

    So, questions for you might go along the following lines:

    “Q1. Given that I’m seeking to organise my daily routine better in 2013, what are my options? Q2. OK, idea #3 looks good to me, but how am I going to make idea #3 happen in practice, etc, etc” (potentially down to five levels of asking ‘how’.”

    Yours as ever,



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