Goldman Sachs managing director and technology leader Arnold tenders some advice you may have heard from your kindergarten teacher: Focus, and take smaller bites.
The author does not claim to be offering revolutionary insights—indeed, at times, it feels as though she is reinventing the wheel—but she does have a calming and anecdotally rich way of presenting the idea that small changes lead to big change. Why do we fail to attain our well-intentioned resolutions? Why do, according to one study, 88 percent of resolutions falter and fizzle, raining guilt and demoralization down on our heads? Very simply, writes Arnold, we fail to be strategic and targeted. The author is low-key in an encouraging way, and she lays out a method of conduct that is small but meaningful, a compact commitment designed to overpower a precise target and deliver the immediate benefits of achievement—in other words, a sustainable act of willpower, working from the edge of the issue to the heart of any matter. “Microresolutions,” writes the author, “are designed to help you repeat a behavior until it becomes habit.” Arnold presents a number of guiding lights: Micro moves must be easy and explicit (you up the ante when you are ready—don’t let “scope creep” make you take on too much too early); an immediate payoff is important, and it resonates with satisfaction; and it must be personally achieved without relying on others. Then comes anecdotal material about how Arnold and others went about various projects: getting more sleep, getting fit, controlling eating and honest communication (though not necessarily the art of honest conversation—that’s a whole book in itself).
Wisdom from time immemorial—take it a day at a time and moderation in all things—reworked by Arnold to morph broad goals into manageable, measurable microresolutions.