How To (Finally!) Keep Your New Year's Resolutions
Forming Your Fellowship
Because I'm aware of conative styles, I never set out toward a difficult goal without a team of opposites. I know that I mostly prefer quick-start action and hands-on implementer creativity, and I feel about strict systems the way tigers feel about vegetarianism ("Are you fricking kidding me?"). So when I started my own business, I hired my friend Yvonne, who's high in both follow-through and fact finder, to run it.
Yvonne and I knew from the outset that we'd butt heads. Her meticulous system maintenance makes me want to drive cactus spines into my skull, while my frequent leaps into the unknown give Yvonne nightmares. But we both know that our very differences make us a damn fine Fellowship. With me spewing ideas like the chocolate assembly line in I Love Lucy and Yvonne insisting that everything get properly packaged and inventoried, we've created things neither of us could have managed on our own.
You can achieve similar success this New Year by forming your own Fellowship of the Resolution. First, identify your own behavior style. You can do this for a moderate fee on Kathy Kolbe's Web site (kolbe.com; $50), or you can figure it out yourself using the loose descriptions in this column (if you go the former route, you're probably high in follow-through or fact finder, while taking the fast-and-loose approach suggests you have quick-start tendencies). Please remember that you may enjoy one or two action styles, but virtually no one is high in all four.
Next, you want to find people who prefer action styles you avoid. Meeting people with your conative complements isn't hard, though teaming up with them will feel a little weird. Remember, hobbits and elves and dwarfs and men were uneasy with each other, too—but just think what would have happened to Middle Earth if any of them had been omitted from the mix! We'd all be slaves in Mordor right now!
As you assemble your Fellowship, you can once again refer to Kathy Kolbe's Web-based evaluation (having your collaborators take the official conation test), or you can shoot from the hip. Since we now understand that I personally am a hip-shooter, I've assembled some guidelines for targeting people you might want in your Fellowship. This involves knowing your own conative dislikes and going directly toward them, rather than running away from them:
- If you have trouble getting started on difficult projects, look for a quick-start companion— the person who shocks you by getting married, moving house, or adopting a pack of dogs mere hours after coming up with the idea.
- If you absolutely hate doing research, never reading the entire recipe or instruction manual before starting to cook or assemble furniture, you need to find yourself a fact finder—the kind of person who won't so much as wash her hair without first googling every ingredient in her shampoo.
- If you love creative chaos and can't stand systematic repetition, add a follow-through to your Fellowship. This will be the friend whose closets are organized by clothing style, color, date purchased, and price (adjusted regularly to account for market fluctuation).
- If you'd rather not grapple with the actual objects involved in your resolution (reorganizing your office, getting and using a yoga mat, devising an ingenious machine that gives you a powerful electric shock each time you reach for the potato chips), you should team up with an implementer. She'll be the one who raves about the joy of installing her own bathroom tiles or taking trapeze lessons from circus acrobats.