Why It’s Time to Ditch New Year’s Resolutions

Why It’s Time to Ditch New Year’s Resolutions

New Year’s resolutions don’t work.

According to US News, 80 percent of New Year’s resolutions don’t live to see the light of day by the second week of February. With just eight percent of resolution-makers actually following through, it’s clear that the odds are not in your favor if you choose to join the fad.

Year after year, however, people insist on encouraging them.

Companies in the fitness and diet industries offer special packages to those determined to lose weight, while regulators urge cigarette smokers to turn their back to nicotine as the new year rolls in. Despite their efforts, the results mostly fail to meet expectations, and resolution-makers who fail feel demoralized in the end.

Realistically speaking, setting monthly goals makes more sense. You build up your self-esteem, raising the bar as you move forward.

“Is there anyone who actually lives up to their own New Year’s resolution expectations?” the discouraged resolution-maker may ask himself, only to realize that whatever the answer is, it doesn’t matter.

Realistically speaking, setting monthly goals makes more sense, not just because short-term goals are more easily attainable but also because as you set yourself to accomplish smaller tasks, you also build up your self-esteem, raising the bar as you move forward.

If you’re still not convinced, here’s the definitive list of reasons why you should ditch the never-ending New Year’s resolution fad for good.

Resolutions Are for Show, Yet Nobody Cares

Literally nobody—yet we’re told that resolutions are important and that pushing ourselves to reach unrealistic goals will boost our morale.

Just ask your family and closest friends if they remember your last New Year’s resolutions and if they have any idea whether you accomplished them or not. Better yet, ask yourself if you remember any of your close friends’ resolutions. Did they live up to them? Did you ever bother to ask?

Resolutions Are (Almost) Always Unattainable

According to an Inc. report, 71 percent of Americans resolved to eat healthier in 2019. Following closely behind were exercising more and losing weight, saving money, learning a new skill, quitting smoking, and reading more.

While some of these goals are attainable in theory, the fact that we set a goal for an entire year without checking our progress regularly makes a mockery of our hopes.

In other words, resolutions are unattainable because they give your brain too many incentives to quit before you even start.

By definition, a goal entails work, but when you set a goal that must be met sometime next year, you’re telling yourself that that goal isn’t truly worth the effort. When you focus on the prize monthly, on the other hand, you put up barriers you must crush before setting your focus on the next step.

In other words, resolutions are unattainable because they give your brain too many incentives to quit before you even start.

Resolutions Don’t Prompt Us to Attain Necessary Skills

Many of us are guilty of resolving to “save more money.” Regardless of where we are professionally, “saving more” means little when we tell ourselves that “next year, I’ll save more,” all the while paying bills and failing to pay attention to our finances. That’s why it’s so important to think of money pragmatically, and that means coming to terms with the fact that you might not be making much more than what you already make when the coming year ends. So how do you go about saving more?

Set up a budget.

Know how much money you make and write that down. Assess how much you require to cover your monthly bills and any other regular payments you make.

Aside from important bills like a mortgage, student loans, water, electricity, gas, internet, etc., check whether you have any subscriptions you don’t use as much as you would like.

Once you figure out what you can and cannot live without, slash subscriptions that aren’t necessary.

Are you too ambitious holding both a Hulu and a Netflix account? Do you really need Amazon Prime just for a couple of purchases every few months? How about YouTubeTV? Do you really need to ditch the ads to watch a 15-minute video?

Once you figure out what you can and cannot live without, slash subscriptions that aren’t necessary.

Do the same with things like gym memberships, trips to the coffee shop, or even how often you hire a cleaning crew for your one-bedroom apartment, and write all that down. Is it realistic to slash some of those expenses or are you going to live miserably if you do so?

Once you look at how much you bring in and how much you spend regularly and set a goal to keep your expenses contained, you will never have to make a money-related New Year’s resolution again.

Resolutions Don’t Improve Accountability

When switching from a New Year’s resolution to a month-to-month goal schedule, the key to being successful is accountability—and nothing helps us acquire better eating habits than increasing accountability.

Before going on some crazy diet because you read about it online and decided that in 2020 you will wear the bikini you always dreamed of is not just irresponsible, but it’s also (nearly) impossible. Instead, go to a nutritionist and discuss your habits. Find out what kind of diet would work better with your lifestyle and start off by setting a modest weight loss goal.

Whatever you do, do not embrace the elusive New Year’s resolution just because that’s what everyone does.

Become more involved with the food you eat by cooking at home more often, and keep the bar somewhat low in the first couple of months. Once you’ve gotten better at keeping up with your new habits, set a higher standard for the following months, and watch as changes take shape right before your eyes.

Whatever you do, do not embrace the elusive New Year’s resolution just because that’s what everyone does. Be realistic, and remember: you are your own worst critic—but you should also give yourself time and room for improvement without losing track of your schedule.

Reprinted from the Future of Economic Education.

Microsoft Saw What a Four-Day Workweek Can Do

Microsoft Saw What a Four-Day Workweek Can Do

One of the most groundbreaking characteristics of a developed economy is the freedom entrepreneurs and firms have to develop their companies as they see fit. It was precisely this freedom that allowed Henry Ford to experiment with the 40-hour workweek in an age when most manufacturing employees worked as many as 100 hours per week.

Fast forward to 2019, when a number of companies started to put into effect a new workweek policy, giving their employees the freedom to work four days instead of five. Microsoft is one of the most well-known among them, showing that even large corporations can gain from a paradigm shift.

According to Business Insider, the “Work-Life Choice Challenge” project implemented in Japan helped Microsoft learn that when employees work less, bosses see a major boost in productivity.

In the tech giant’s case, executives saw a 40 percent boost during the implementation of the summer project.

For the month of August, Microsoft Japan closed its offices every Friday, implemented a 30-minute limit to meetings, and encouraged employees to communicate remotely. These changes produced a 39.9 percent increase in labor productivity when compared to July, meaning that employees were doing more sales by working shorter weeks.

At the end of the experiment, 90 percent of Microsoft’s 2,280 employees in Japan said they were impacted while the firm admitted that the shorter workweeks also helped it to save money on resources such as electricity.

While this is revolutionary news in Japan, where the culture of overwork is literally killing workers, this isn’t the first time that a firm has experimented with a shorter workweek.

New Zealand estate-planning firm Perpetual Garden noticed a similar boost in productivity when it experimented with closing on Fridays. The results were so positive that boss Andrew Barnes made the four-day workweek an official policy.

“This is all about working smarter, not working longer,” Barnes told reporters.

“We have this perception that you’ve got to work five days a week, 9-5. What we are really talking about is changing how people are behaving when they are at the office.”

Flexibility as the Norm

Our relationship with work has changed dramatically with the government’s growing interventions in the market. Thankfully, the introduction of the internet helped to mitigate some of the problems caused by intervention.

More than just giving us better tools, the internet helped us to become more efficient. In a sense, the internet boosted economic freedom by giving people access to skills they couldn’t have afforded to acquire without it. Now, employers are using the freedom provided by the internet to also boost productivity.

While the four-day work movement is becoming more popular, it is just another component of a much larger move toward greater flexibility, and tech companies like Google are at the forefront of this revolution.

Google’s generosity toward employees is legendary, as the company offers telecommuting flexibility and a variety of other perks such as on-site child care. But the Silicon Valley firm isn’t the only one that has learned that happy employees are better employees.

Amazon, Intuit, Dell, Johnson & Johnson, and dozens of other large firms are also betting on the work-from-home trend, as they see an improvement in productivity and a cut in overall expenses due to shrinking in-house staff. As smaller companies see an even greater incentive in hiring freelancers and remote workers to keep their overhead costs down, it’s clear that work flexibility is quickly becoming the norm.

As the private sector becomes increasingly cornered by regulators, firms spend a lot of their resources on bureaucracy. Employers are finally realizing that only creativity will help firms survive and remain competitive. Changing work schedules is one of the ways to go about it.

Reprinted from the American Institute of Economic Research.

Only Freedom Will Save the Auto Industry

Only Freedom Will Save the Auto Industry

Nearly 900,000 of the auto accidents that happen yearly on U.S. roadways start with a blind spot. But because most vehicles have a blind spot due to their frame design, there’s little a driver can do that completely eliminates this problem. And while technology has come a long way, automakers are still far from finding a real solution.

Recently, however, a 14-year-old girl from Grove, Pennsylvania, designed a solution that might as well be the one that sticks. And perhaps because she did so independently, moved by a need put forth by members of her own family, and in order to participate in the Society for Science and the Public’s Broadcom MASTERS (Math, Applied Science, Technology and Engineering for Rising Stars) science and engineering competition, she had no pressure from industry heads trying to keep her on her toes because of the countless regulations the car industry must follow. In other words, she had the freedom to flourish.

With the help of projectors that cast images of what’s behind the car’s pillars onto their surfaces, Alaina Gassler made the A-frame structure of vehicles essentially disappear. This created “ghost pillars” that reproduce live footage of anything happening outside of the vehicle, giving the driver a greater awareness of the obstacles and potential risks he would have ignored if he couldn’t have looked beyond the car’s frame.

Thanks to this ingenious idea, Gassler took home the grand prize, pocketing $25,000 and making headlines across the country. But more than making a name for herself, Gassler managed to demonstrate how important the freedom to create is in a developed economy. Unfortunately, the heavy regulatory burden imposed on the industry creates a maze that is often complicated to navigate.

In order to develop new designs and technology, these companies must make sure they aren’t breaking the rules, forcing them to spend a considerable amount of their earnings on an army of regulatory lawyers. As pressure builds up, firms do all in their power to avoid producing something the government will veto later. And while they have a way around this by lobbying the government and hoping that regulators will be persuaded to change the rules to accommodate them, that route isn’t always a done deal.

Needless to say, this intricacy makes it difficult for auto engineers to be creative, so it is no wonder that such a creative solution for a widespread problem would come from a carefree young engineer working on a science project on her own time and dime.

Regulations Serve Only to Muzzle Talent

The aggregation of regulations has the power to harm entire industries, keeping young and inspired entrepreneurs from entering the market. In the end, the lack of freedom many of these geniuses encounter ends up stifling their desire to make a difference, as breaking into the industry is often difficult and prohibitively expensive.

The young Gassler, who completed her projector-based technology system while in eighth grade, was not being moved by power, money, or desire to break into the industry. Instead, she was upset her grandmother had scraped the paint from the side of her car after not seeing a pole that was in her blind spot.

She acted on a demand that impacted a member of her family, and she wanted “to find a way to get rid of them,” she said. The young engineer didn’t have an army of regulatory lawyers telling her what she could or could not do with her resources, and she was not told that there were limitations as to what kind of features she could develop to address this issue.

If anything, this proves the importance of freedom, especially if we want auto engineers, designers, and manufacturers to create products that are both safe and appealing to their audience.

As AIER’s editorial director Jeffrey Tucker explained in this piece, regulation has done a great deal of harm, forcing the industry to go down a path that puts all drivers inside ugly, boring, and unattractive vehicles. Can this be considered progress? And if so, what would the opposite of progress look like for the auto industry?

Unfortunately for drivers and car lovers everywhere, we might never have an answer to this question. Unless, of course, we were all made aware that the government’s meddling in the auto industry has killed beauty, innovation, and passion — and that giving people their freedom to explore back is what will save it.

Reprinted from the American Institute for Economic Research.

Lyft’s Job Access Program Shows How the Market Provides Help Government Can’t

Lyft’s Job Access Program Shows How the Market Provides Help Government Can’t

A new initiative launched by Lyft is helping people in low-income communities find jobs, highlighting the main difference between private and government-backed charity.

The Jobs Access Program, a partnership between the ride-share company and other organizations such as the charitable group United Way and the National Down Syndrome Society, a private nonprofit that educates the general public about Down syndrome, is present in 35 states in the United States and Canada. And according to Lyft, it will offer free or discounted rides to job interviews.

More than giving the unemployed access to reliable transportation, Lyft is also encouraging the newly hired to dedicate themselves to keeping their jobs, as the program will also help them get to work until their first paycheck arrives.

In its official campaign announcement, Lyft expressed excitement in being “committed to expanding transportation access to those who need it most,” adding that the program is part of its “$50M annual commitment to improve…cities through transportation infrastructure, donated transportation, and sustainability initiatives.”

In a statement issued to the press, the company added that reliable transportation to a job interview is of extreme importance for the unemployed, and that help in the first few weeks of work can also make a huge difference, giving the newly employed a chance at obtaining long-term employment.

While the program is financially backed by the ride-share company in partnership with a series of nonprofits, individual contributors can also help by personally donating to the cause.

Private Solutions to Private Needs

In a study published by the Oxford University Press in 2018, researchers found that children are more likely to grow socioeconomically if they are in “better” neighborhoods. In other words, when children grow up in neighborhoods where the average household income is higher, they, too, tend to do better as adults.

Taking inspiration from this realization, Lyft carried out its own study, which looked at the racial and socioeconomic make-up of its users and drivers. According to the ride-sharing company, 41% of app users are minorities, while at least 44% of its rides either start or end in low-income areas.

Realizing that the ride-sharing app already had a great appeal among people in disadvantaged communities, Lyft took a step further.

Despite seeing unemployment fall to 3.5%, the lowest rate since December 1969, companies aren’t hiring as much as they did in the past. That’s, in part, what made Lyft come up with this initiative.

Part of the program includes working with groups that help connect workers and employers. This allows Lyft to find those in need of free or discounted rides more effectively.

And as individuals make their way to job interviews and training sessions, Lyft has promised to be there, offering rides to and from job training programs and interviews, and then offering the same service for the first three weeks of employment, until employees get their first paycheck.

Instead of simply giving the unemployed or under-employed means to purchase basic needs, Lyft is doing more than most government agencies have done since the inception of welfare programs as it’s encouraging people to find a job and stick with it. And in order to see success in their effort, they are seeing riders through the process by giving them access to reliable transportation when it matters the most.

It is this kind of initiative that distinguishes private parties and enterprises from government “charity.”

Whereas in the private sector companies, individuals, and charities focus on lifting people up and giving them a chance to recover, the government allocates money from taxpayers to provide a “safety net” that fails to encourage recipients to get back on their feet.

Furthermore, the government ends up creating another unwanted outcome by having to raise taxes to keep paying for these benefits.

As taxes increase, they discourage workers and companies from making more money. After all, the more they work, the more taxes they will have to pay.

If Lyft is taking upon this effort as it is, imagine how much more money private enterprise would have available to invest in campaigns such as The Jobs Access Program if they didn’t have to give so much of their earnings to Uncle Sam. Unfortunately, the vast majority of young Americans believe that taxpayer-backed “charity” is the answer to all of our problems.

Americans Aren’t Volunteering or Giving to Charity Because They’re Broke

Americans Aren’t Volunteering or Giving to Charity Because They’re Broke

Volunteering rates have been on the decline since 2003, according to a 2018 analysis of Census Bureau data by the Do Good Institute at the University of Maryland. And at the heart of this decline, the study found, is people’s own hardships, as higher levels of economic distress were often mentioned as a reason why people weren’t volunteering their time and money more often.

Furthermore, the study found that rural areas, where the rates of volunteering work are historically higher, are also seeing the spirit of giving losing momentum.

Researchers believe that as churches no longer play a significant role in people’s lives in these regions, opportunities for volunteering also have become more scarce.

In either case, socioeconomic struggles are the root of the matter, as less financially stable individuals have priorities that do not include giving their time, and especially their money, to others in need.

But why exactly did our financial situation become so unsteady?

With unemployment rates falling, blue-collar industries struggling with labor shortages, and the Federal Reserve cutting interest rates, why aren’t Americans caught up financially?

Turns out the government has a lot to do with it.

Volunteering Meets Its Demise

Following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Americans felt the urge to come together in the face of uncertainty. This drove the volunteering rate up and prompted the federal government to officially designate 9/11 as the National Day of Service and Remembrance.

But while Americans do show up on 9/11 each year, with 30 million participating in some way, the country never managed to reach the 28.8 percent overall volunteer rate registered in 2005, with rates dropping to 24.9 percent in 2015.

According to Do Good Institute’s director, Robert Grimm, the decline seems to be part of a national trend.

“Thirty-one states have experienced a decline in volunteering over the last decade; not one state saw an increase,” he said.

But while 9/11 inaugurated a new time in America politics, bringing about foreign intervention and wars that, for the most part, continue to this day, the tragedy didn’t just shape our relationship with other countries. It also impacted our economy.

From President George W. Bush’s inflationary policies to President Barack Obama’s entrapment of both the health care industry and poor patients and now more recently to President Donald Trump’s tariff war, Americans have yet to get a break. In the meantime, their money is losing its purchasing power while the things they want to buy are getting more and more expensive.

Furthermore, young Americans, the most educated generation in history, are broke — not only because they are failing to find gainful employment but also because their education is costing them their livelihood.

The government’s ongoing involvement in the student loan business drove the cost of higher education so high that young adults today feel they will die in debt. Additionally, many can only manage to pay their bills if they take on side gigs.

But it isn’t just young Americans who aren’t able to give more because of their financial problems.

The Taxes Are Too Damn High

For the most part, Americans are overtaxed and overtariffed. And when you pay so much in tariffs and taxes, it’s easy to say no to setting aside some money for charity. That’s because, to the average American, the federal government uses his or her money for charitable purposes. And when the government is running programs that target the poor, why should they give more money to private charities?

The reality is that the government is incompetent. It also requires much more money to work remotely well than a private charity does. With that in mind, it isn’t far-fetched to believe that if Americans were to stop paying taxes and start giving their cash to private charities instead, a much larger number of people would be helped — and more effectively too.

With the U.S. government taking in more taxes each year, it is clear that Americans aren’t able to use their hard-earned money for good. Perhaps that’s one of the main reasons why Americans aren’t volunteering as often as we once did.

Permission to republish granted by the American Institute for Economic Research.

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