The New Year’s Resolutions 14 CEOs Are Making for 2020
From drinking too much coffee to sleeping with their phones, CEOs struggle with a lot of the same things that the rest of us do. Here's how they plan to change things in the new year.
Smart ideas for the new year
There are many traits that help CEOs get that C-suite, but one thing that almost all of them have in common is the ability to set goals and accomplish them. This not only benefits them in their work lives but in their personal lives as well, especially when they’re trying to make some big changes. After all, CEOs struggle with many of the same things as the rest of us and make plenty of their own New Year’s resolutions. This year, take some inspiration from these successful folks about how to make your life even better in 2020.
“I’m going to stop depending on coffee to get through my workday”
Do you feel like you need to start your day with a Starbucks to-go cup and then make a few pit stops at the office coffee machine just to get through your hectic day? You’re not alone! Jaime Athos, the CEO of Tofurky, has decided to break his addiction to caffeine this year. “‘I’m going to allow myself two cups of coffee per week, no more,” he says. “I’ll see it as an indulgence, rather than a dependence.” Even if you’re not ready to totally ditch coffee, simply cutting back on caffeine can help improve your heart health, according to a recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
“I’m keeping my team laser-focused with a four-week schedule”
Having a new idea is a great feeling and it’s so important to the creative process, but some companies get hampered by constantly chasing each new good idea instead of seeing one all the way through. So this year, Michael Alexis, CEO of Team Building Hero, has decided to focus his entire team on only one project per month. “This structure means that we meet once per month to set the priorities and projects for that month, and then we don’t deviate from that plan,” he explains. “I believe this structure will reduce stress and increase productivity, not just for myself but the entire team.” Having a schedule is one of the 24 golden rules for being a great boss.
“I’m not focusing on weight and instead celebrating non-scale victories”
Health and fitness resolutions are the most popular ones made each year, but too many people get caught up in using one measure of health—their weight—as the sole mark of success or failure. Tricia Han, CEO of Daily Burn, is determined not to make this mistake. “My New Year’s resolution for 2020 is to focus on the small victories in my everyday life, including how exercise makes me feel happier and more relaxed,” she says. “I want to be grateful for what and how much my body can do today, instead of wasting time worrying about a number on the scale.” It’s a great idea: People who focused on addressing their emotional needs lost more weight than people who simply followed a diet or exercise plan, according to a survey conducted by Orlando Health.
“I’m scheduling work blackouts”
Finding a good balance between work and family life is tough for anyone, but hard-driving CEOs may be particularly prone to being workaholics—a pattern that can increase your risk of stroke and early death, according to a study done by the American Heart Association. Ryan Patterson, CEO of Senior Advice, is determined to avoid that fate. “This year, I’m resolving to compartmentalize my schedule for more focused time for myself and my family,” he says. “I will accomplish this with two rules: First, no work emails or calls after 7 p.m., and second, no work before my morning meditation. I have a new baby, so this is more important to me than it has ever been.” Here’s the simple trick Google employees use to avoid burnout that you can steal right now.
“I’m going to increase recycling personally, in my company, and in the country”
The health of the planet is a concern that weighs heavily on all of us these days, so it makes sense to increase our resolve to take care of it. John A. Hayes, Chairman, President, and CEO of Ball Corporation, has decided that 2020 will be the year he focuses on switching from disposable plastics—especially food and beverage containers—to more sustainable and recyclable materials. And thanks to his position, he is able to encourage recycling on a scale far beyond his own garbage can. “This year, in addition to trading out my own plastic water bottles for aluminum ones, I’m going to advocate to our customers, retailers, governments, NGOs, and other stakeholders who help inform—and in some cases make—our choices in everyday life,” he explains.
“I’m going to quit sleeping with my phone”
Most of us know how bad phones, tablets, laptops, and other devices with screens are right before bed, as the blue light can disrupt sleep. (In fact, most sleep experts recommend turning screens off at least one hour before bed.) But knowing it is one thing. Doing it is entirely another. Mitali Saxena, founder and CEO of Fashom, is one of those people who’s guilty of falling asleep with her phone. “This year, I’m resolving to turn off my cell phone at 10:30 p.m., and I’ll no longer keep it on my bedside table. Instead, I’ll store it out of reach, like in another room, so it won’t be the first thing I reach for in the mornings,” she says. “Doing this will help me be able to shut off my brain completely before going to bed so I won’t wake up with the same stress.”
This is a great idea for everyone. Removing digital devices from the bedroom significantly improves sleep, according to a study published in Pediatrics. Also, make sure you’re not engaging in these other innocent habits that are completely ruining your sleep quality.
“I’m going to read less but remember more”
Thanks to all our tech, many of us spend our days reading, almost endlessly. But how much are we actually remembering? Abhi Lokesh, the CEO and co-founder of Fracture, found himself stuck in this fruitless cycle, so he’s come up with an unconventional strategy to make 2020 different. “I’ve got so many good books on my reading list that I usually end up skimming, leaving me unsatisfied and unable to really remember much of anything I read,” he explains. “Instead, this year I am committing to reading only two books. I’ll read for no more than 30 minutes each day during work, and after each reading session, I’ll take notes on what I’ve read to truly let it sink in.” Next, try these 12 strategies to get smarter in your spare time.
“I’m breaking my social media addiction”
Social media isn’t just a fun pastime. For CEOs, it can also be a vital source of feedback, marketing, and connections with customers. But even when it’s used for good purposes, there can still be too much of a good thing. That’s why GT Dave, Founder and CEO of GT’s Living Foods, is resolving to put firm limits on his social media usage in 2020. “I am only going to allow myself to check social media three times a day for a max of 90 minutes per day,” he says. “I’ll hold myself accountable by tracking my app usage through my phone settings.” This will help in his daily life as well since the more time people spend on social media, the more likely they are to feel depressed and lonely, according to a study published in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology. Do you know when to unfriend or unfollow someone on social media?
“Every day I will remind myself that work is not my most important achievement”
“I firmly believe that if a person considers their job their top priority in life, their perspective may need some reassessment. Family, friends, and community should always come first—for me and my employees,” says Aron Ain, CEO of Kronos. But this is all too easy to forget when work gets hectic. So this year, Ain is resolving to implement new procedures in his company that encourages employees (and himself!) to take time away from work to be with their loved ones and to put their needs first. Did you know that your ability to balance work and life may be partly hereditary?
“I’m learning Spanish”
Spanish is the fourth most commonly spoken language in the world, and anyone who does business internationally would benefit from learning it. That’s why Darren Heffernan, President at Trintech, has decided that 2020 is the year he’s going to learn Spanish. “In addition to its usefulness in my global company, my family and I holiday in Mexico frequently and it always bothers me that I don’t know the language,” he says. “I think it’s important to be able to communicate with people in their own language so you can share just how much you appreciate them.” It also has personal benefits: Learning a new language makes your brain grow, according to a study published in NeuroImage. You can start with these 9 Spanish phrases everyone should know.
“I’m going to drink less”
DRYanuary, or Dry January, is an annual tradition for many people as they recover from the bacchanalian holiday season. This year, Sharelle Klaus, founder and CEO of DRY, will be among those participating. “I’m resolving to be a more mindful drinker and begin to drink less alcohol overall,” she says. “Specifically, I will be participating in Dry January and will also be doing a 90-day abstinence in the spring. In addition, I am resolved to learn more about the effects of alcohol on my physical and mental health by reading and meeting with experts.” She may be onto something: People who successfully completed Dry January improved their sleep, saved more money, and lost weight, according to research done by the University of Sussex.
“I’m going to give back to my community”
One of the most powerful gifts from success is the ability to go back and help others you weren’t able to help before. Abid Abedi, CEO and founder of iCode, was born in Hyderabad, India, and now that his company has taken off, that’s exactly what he plans to do. “Specifically, I’m going to choose 100 individuals from my hometown and fund their start-up businesses as well as set up a microfinancing infrastructure,” he explains. “I have seen incredible talent there, and I think with little capital and mentorship, I can help uplift my entire community.” Another inspiring example of giving back to the community is this 17-year-old who has helped feed thousands of homeless people.
“I’m putting health over wealth”
Over the past 18 months, Michael Tessler, CEO of Multihouse Entertainment, has lost 160 pounds. This huge achievement changed his life and made him rethink his priorities for himself and his employees. “This year, I resolve that health must always take priority over wealth,” he says. “I’m going to encourage and support myself and my team by providing tangible resources for promoting good physical and mental health in our office. For instance, I am implementing a system to streamline workloads, offering more time off, and scheduling healthy team activities like hikes.” If you’re interested in a health transformation of your own, this is the secret for actually keeping your New Year’s resolutions, according to science.
“I’m going to stop micromanaging my employees”
CEOs don’t get to the top by being hands-off shrinking violets. In fact, they’re often known for their intense management styles. Yet managing employees too much can have terrible consequences, both in morale and the bottom line. Plus, research shows that bosses who are control freaks burn out much faster—something that Justin Comparetto, CEO and President of Just Ryt Foods, would like to avoid. “This year, I am going to focus on letting go of the reins and stop micromanaging,” he says. “I want to set up better standard operating procedures that will allow my employees to focus on perfecting their tasks and becoming more efficient at them without me interfering. Letting go will allow them to excel in their role, reduce mistakes, and give everyone more peace of mind.” Looking to change jobs? You might want to check out these 18 companies with the best bosses in America.