7 TED Talks about Goals for your New Year’s Resolutions

Many people devote thought and time to creating a list of New Year’s resolutions. Perhaps 2016 is the year you want to earn a promotion, learn to kayak, spend more time volunteering or maybe run a marathon. The following seven TED Talks offer advice on goal-setting and how to follow through on your dreams.

1) Keep your goals to yourself by Derek Sivers

In this three-minute TED Talk, the speaker shares psychological evidence about the importance of keeping your goals quiet. You’ll have a better chance of following through on your plans if you don’t share them with others.

2) Try Something New for 30 Days by Matt Cutts

In this three-minute TED Talk, the speaker shows how small steps can lead to big adventures. Inviting activity into your life seems to lead to a richer experience.

3) 5 Ways to Kill Your Dreams by Bel Pesce

In this six-minute TED Talk, the speaker shares five lines of thought that will keep you from reaching your goals, and she also emphasizes the significance of the journey.

4) Four Keys for Setting and Achieving Goals by William Barr

In this eight-minute TED Talk, the speaker shares how he was able to build one of the nation’s largest home improvement companies.

5) If You Want to Achieve Your Goals, Don’t Focus on Them by Reggie Rivers

In this 11-minute TED Talk, the speaker shares how focusing on the goals can actually prevent you from achieving your goals. By focusing on your behaviors, you will be more driven to follow through.

6) The Key to Success? Grit by Angela Lee Duckworth

In this 6-minute TED Talk, the speaker shares how grit is a key ingredient for success. She encourages the audience to live life as a marathon and not a sprint.

7) The Power of Believing That You Can Improve by Carol Dweck

In this 11-minute TED Talk, the speaker shares how adopting a growth mindset can open you up to greater success. She encourages the audience to see a challenge as a “yet” opportunity.

The New Year is a wonderful time for new beginnings. One of the Service Values at The Ritz-Carlton is “I have the opportunity to continuously learn and grow.” This Service Value reminds our employees—known as our Ladies and Gentlemen—to embrace learning as a continuous, on-going activity—rather than a start-and-stop activity. It also helps our Ladies and Gentlemen to remain open to new experiences and fresh ways of thinking. When employees are receptive to improvement, then your organization is primed to be nimble, adaptive and innovative. 

Enroll in Executive Education to benchmark the business practices of The Ritz-Carlton and discover how a service excellence culture results in engaged employees and legendary service.

Inspired Thinking: Long-Range Planning

“You’ve got to eat while you dream. You’ve got to deliver on short-range commitments, while you develop a long-range strategy and vision and implement it. The success of doing both. Walking and chewing gum if you will. Getting it done in the short-range, and delivering a long-range plan, and executing on that.”
— Jack Welch, former chairman and CEO of General Electric

The Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center:
How many times have you created a goal and 52 weeks later asked, “Where did the time go?” Being able to focus on the long game but make incremental wins along the way takes planning and effort from everyone in the organization. The Ritz-Carlton uses Franklin Covey’s “Wildly Important Goals” (WIG) formula for keeping our focus on the big prize, while making small accomplishments along the way. We measure actions and align them in the direction we want to go. When we reach our goal, it’s not a surprise—because we paved a clear path together. Do your teams all use the same map? 

On Monday, April 13, 2015, The Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center presents “Your Journey to Service Excellence,” The Ritz-Carlton approach to legendary service, employee engagement and a customer-centric culture. This special Symposium takes place at The Ritz-Carlton, Dallas, and early-bird pricing is available through December 31, 2014. 

Is Your Strategic Plan D.O.A.?

Raise your hand if you have a copy of your organization’s strategic plan in a binder on a bookshelf. Now keep your hand raised if you’ve opened that binder in the last month—or in the last quarter. Be honest—is there a fine layer of dust on your strategic plan binder?

Most likely, hours and hours of work went into your organization’s strategic plan, but if it’s simply collecting dust, then your organization created a document that was dead on arrival (D.O.A.). In order to be relevant, strategic plans have to be lived by everyone in your organization.


One critical factor to remember as you develop a strategic plan is that your employees are the ones who will implement the plan. Your senior management team may create the plan, but if the management team has not garnered employee buy-in, the plan will not move forward.

At The Ritz-Carlton, all of the employees are involved in the annual creation of the strategic plan. In order to further ensure the plan is supported, the rollout of the strategic plan includes a “Roadmap to Performance Excellence.” The “Roadmap” gives an overview of the process, lists each priority and shares three significant elements:

  • A definition of each element of the plan
  • A change rationale that explains why or why not a change was made
  • A description of how to live each element of the plan

If there’s even a one-word change to the strategic plan, an explanation of the change is provided to employees. For example, last year the word “our” was added to the initiative: “Encourage and celebrate [our] empowerment.” The change rationale states: “the intention of the change is to increase our focus on the importance of celebrating our empowerment. … It is up to each of us to encourage and celebrate this sense of empowerment in each other.” Clear communication of the nuances of the strategic plan goes a long way to garner employee buy-in.


The “Roadmap” also advises staff on how to live the plan. This not only delineates the employees’ role, but also gives them actionable steps to participate in executing the strategic plan. One of the suggestions for living the initiative: “encourage and celebrate our empowerment” was to write a card to a co-worker who has used their empowerment to create a memorable guest experience. When employees are given clear directions on how to execute the strategic plan, they are much more likely to actively participate and support the plan.

A strategic plan is only effective when it is actively lived by your organization. Next time your organization sits down to create a plan, make sure you’re producing a document that doesn’t just “live” on a bookshelf—make sure you’re creating a plan that all of your employees can actually “live.”