Caroline Arnold wanted to improve her work habits. Like many hard-charging executives, she set a lofty goal to become more organized.
But like many of her previous resolutions, this one fizzled. So Arnold, a managing director at Goldman Sachs, decided to scale down her ambitions.
Instead of committing to overhaul her, she vowed to make a more concrete commitment to change how she took notes.
She says she figured that “nailing a realistic behavioral change that I believed I could sustain forever” would produce more immediate results. And it did.
Previously, Arnold would grab the closest scrap of paper to jot notes. Armed with her new “microresolution,” she got a notebook and took it wherever she went for taking notes.
At first, she felt strange pulling out her notebook whenever she needed to write notes. She found it annoying to take a call and then get up to retrieve her notebook on a faraway table.
But by sticking with it, she began to see benefits. Consolidating her notes in one place made her more organized.
She started applying this “microresolution” approach to institute other positive changes. Instead of mindlessly munching on cookies in the conference room during meetings, she realized she had to take action to lose weight. Instead of embarking on a sweeping diet, she decided to stop eating cookies in the conference room.
“I didn’t resolve never to eat a cookie again, or never to eat food in a conference room again,” she says. “Because my resolution was reasonable and specific, success was easy to measure.”
—Adapted from Small Move, Big Change, Caroline Arnold, Penguin.