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(File pix) How to make New Year resolutions work? Identify the values that drives you and know what you are passionate about as alues reflect what is important to us - who we are, what we hold dear, what upsets us and what underlies our decisions.
Founder and Lead Culture Consultant at 95% Janet Lee says many people who make New Year’s resolutions select goals that are ‘nice to have’ but aren’t really that important. If it was important, we would not need to wait for New Year to achieve it.

Since 2013, you've vowed to be 10 kilograms lighter by the end of the year. As 2016 is nearing its end, you’re now telling yourself that, yes, 2017 will be the year you actually reach that mark on the weighing scale you bought five years ago.

Yet deep down, you know. 2017 will be just like 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 - you're going to fail your New Year’s resolution.

If there is a way to tackle new year resolutions differently, would you do it?

To find out why we all make ‘em and break ‘em, we spoke to Janet Lee, Founder and Lead Culture Consultant at 95%, a Malaysian corporate culture consultancy with a strong network with the UK-based Barrett Values Centre.

She suggests: “New year’s resolutions will fail when we don’t have a compelling ‘why’ that is driving us. Many people who make New Year’s resolutions select goals that are ‘nice to have’, but if we’re completely honest with ourselves, they are not really that important to us. If it was indeed important, we would already have achieved it, even without waiting for New Year to come around.”

“Sure, I want to lose weight, have a home by the beach, be able to play the piano, but to be honest, I don’t want any of these things enough to be willing to pay the price, to sweat and sacrifice in order to get them. And as a result, of course, I won’t.”

Lee cited her own experience, on how she gave up coffee six years ago, breaking a 20-year habit overnight.

“My goal wasn’t to give up coffee. My goal was to prepare myself for a spiritual retreat, and one of the requirements was to give up coffee. I had withdrawal symptoms and terrible headaches but I managed to give it up cold turkey. Why? Because I had a compelling reason: my spiritual development,” she recounted.

Lee also didn’t wait for the New Year to start the daily practice of meditation and yoga but started it because she experienced how it would set her up to have a good day.

But how do we get closer to knowing what’s really important to us? Lee says: “It gets easier once we identify the values that drives us and know what we are passionate about. Values reflect what is important to us. Who you are, what you hold dear, what upsets you and what underlies your decisions are all connected to your values.”

“Peace, love and joy are values that are important to me. I couldn’t bear the thought of causing harm to animals when there are many other food options out there so I made the decision to be a vegetarian.”

This decision, she said, was made overnight.

“Once my mind was set, I changed. It wasn’t difficult because I had a compelling reason. Four years later, my priorities changed. My mother was in the hospital and was very sensitive to spiciness in her food so I would taste her food, which was usually chicken, before giving it to her. And when she couldn’t finish her meal, I ate it up as my priority was to keep her happy,” she shared.

Lee said one of the ways to find out what your values are is to find a moment of silence and reconnect with your inner voice.

“Your inner voice is like a compass. In this fast-paced society that we live in, we find ourselves so busy that we've stopped listening. You may find it easier by doing an activity alone. It's meditation for me; gym or a walk for some other people. It depends on what you enjoy doing alone the most. If you need something more tangible, you can check out this short and fun assessment," she offers a link available at 95% website (

Lee’s advice is to not put a time frame on yourself or confine yourself to resolutions.

"I find that the word “resolution” has a negative connotation to some people. It’s telling yourself that it’s so difficult that you have to come up with a steely resolve to get it done. Instead of using the word resolutions, use the word goals. If you know your “why” and set a goal to it without tying it with a time frame, your mind may start looking at it differently. You don't need to go by the date on the calendar. You can start the moment you know you want it to happen,” she said.

Reiterating that being able to connect your goals and values in life is the start of many positive steps, Lee also advised: "Whatever that you are doing, however you are behaving, it is OK, because you are on a journey. Don't worry if you've not reached the finishing line, because you're a work in progress. If you’re not able to keep your new year’s resolution, don’t beat yourself up over it. Be honest and go ahead to pursue what you really want.”

Lee established 95% (Ninety Five Percent Sdn Bhd) in 2004 as a training academy but has since shifted directions to being a corporate culture consultancy today. With a vision to turn workplaces into joyplaces, 95% provides guidance and inspiration for companies who are on a journey to create great corporate culture.

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