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New year New me? How to get 2024 right. A lesson from WW2.

The problem, myself included, is that we often mix good intentions with poor execution. We use the new year to springboard us into a new us. We envision losing inches of our waistline. We dream of saving dollars by cutting frivolous spending. We commit to eating healthy foods, lifting steel, and improving our cardiovascular health. We promise to quit bad habits, to cut down on energy drinks, and to give up alcohol. We desire to travel more and to volunteer at church. Despite these well-meaning goals we often fall short. According to a commonly cited statistic from the University of Scranton, only about 8% of people are successful in achieving their New Year's resolutions. Why?


WW2 America vs Japan. After the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the Japanese rapidly advanced through Southeast Asia, including the invasion of the Philippines. See War Plan Orange - defend the Philippines and hold out until reinforcements could arrive. However, the overwhelming Japanese invasion force, combined with air and naval superiority, led to a rapid deterioration of the Allied position in the Philippines.

General Douglas MacArthur, who was in command of the Allied forces in the Philippines, faced significant setbacks. The Allies were forced to retreat to the Bataan Peninsula and the island of Corregidor. Despite initial resistance, the situation became increasingly untenable.

Short Story

The dense jungle, once a vibrant canvas teeming with life, now bore the heavy footprints of defeat. The echoes of failure reverberated through the twisted foliage, each misstep etching scars into the very fabric of the landscape that General Douglas MacArthur had hoped to defend. The grand design, a masterpiece conceived with the ink of overconfidence, crumbled beneath the relentless onslaught of a meticulous enemy—a symphony of destruction conducted with strategic precision by the advancing Japanese forces.

As MacArthur huddled over the worn map, the lines of retreat weren't mere ink; they were visceral wounds cutting through the paper—a tangible manifestation of dashed hopes and shattered dreams. The once-favorable terrain, now scarred by the fallout of miscalculations and misplaced confidence, demanded a revolution, an upheaval in the very approach to the grand theater of war.

MacArthur was given a bitter directive to withdraw—a pill swallowed against the backdrop of denial's fog. MacArthur's new strategy, born from the crucible of humility, discarded the heavy cloak of misplaced pride, embracing adaptability as its guiding light in the encroaching darkness of defeat.

MacArthur's focus shifted from the minutiae of minor battles to the pursuit of colossal, overarching objectives. The island-hopping strategy emerged like a phoenix from the ashes of past failures—a grand design acknowledging the impossibility of defending every inch of the vast Pacific archipelago. The resolution was a commitment, a pledge to strategically bypass fortified positions, avoiding the treacherous quagmire of entrenched resistance and targeting key objectives. It was shedding the burdens of defeat, navigating a complex future with a renewed purpose, a commitment to rewrite the narrative of the Pacific campaign.

The success of MacArthur's new strategy wasn't just a matter of military maneuvering; it hinged on the capacity to learn from the haunting echoes of past mistakes. The treacherous waters of strategic uncertainty required a nimble resolve, a captain steering the ship of redemption through uncharted seas. The islands, once perceived as insurmountable challenges, now became stepping stones, guiding the way toward a brighter, triumphant future.

MacArthur's embrace of change wasn't a concession to defeat; it was a revolutionary act of resilience—a commitment to overarching objectives that would redefine the very course of the Pacific campaign. As the sun set on the theater of war, casting its golden hues on the waves of transformation, the echoes of MacArthur's revised strategy resonated through the palm trees.

The emotional need for transformation, born from the crucible of failure, blossomed into a resolute determination to navigate the uncharted waters of grand objectives. It wasn't a rejection of the past but a courageous embrace of a future forged in the fires of self-reflection and adaptability.

This change in tactics ultimately contributed to the Allied island-hopping campaign that played a significant role in the Pacific theater's later stages, leading to the eventual defeat of Japan.

Way forward

In the battle of life, we lose battles but we can not lose our resolve. We must adapt and claw our way to victory. We do this by focusing on major objectives. We focus on who we want to become over minor battles in the process. We go around fortified positions in our attempt to win the war. And in the process, sometimes we need to rally reload and get back in the fight.

Try starting this year by first defining who you want to be. Take out a pen and paper and answer the questions below. Save it to a Word file and pin it to your desktop. Ask AI to generate a picture and hang it in your office to remind you.


What is your narrative?

What values do you want to be defined by?

At the end of your life, how do you want people to describe you?

What do your past mistakes tell you about your future victories?

What is one word or value that will define who you are going to be in 2024?

Then create your objectives to get there. Don't forget to go around fortified positions and to be adaptable and resilient so you can win the war.


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