New Year Resolutions

A friend of mine said: “May all your troubles last as long as your New Year’s resolutions.” My friend did not think a lot about my New Year Resolutions, didn’t he? After compiling almost 8000 responses from kids who were asked for their New Year’s resolutions in January 2003 by, released the top five New Year’s resolutions kids made. They are: Get better grades: 2,121; Be nicer to my brother/sister: 877 votes; Eat less junk food: 869 votes; Get more sleep: 828 votes; Get more exercise: 811 votes (Wilson, J. L., 2009).

Many of us know that it is out there that New Year Resolutions don’t stick, but you can make it work if you follow the next four steps:

1. Keep them few in number. Productivity studies show that you really can’t focus on more than 5-7 items at any one time. And don’t try to cheat by including sections with several resolutions under each section. This is a recipe for losing focus and accomplishing very little. Instead, focus on a handful of resolutions that you can almost repeat from memory and fit on one 4″ x 6″ card.

2. Make them “smart.” Resolutions are really just annual goals. But like all goals, they should be s-m-a-r-t:

  • Specific—your goals just identify exactly what you want to accomplish in as much specificity as you can muster.
  • Measurable—as the old adage says, “you can’t manage what you can’t measure.”
  • Actionable—every resolution should start with a verb (e.g., “quit,” “run,” “finish,” “eliminate,” etc.)
  • Realistic—you have to be careful here. A good resolution should stretch you, but you have to add a dose of common sense.
  • Time-bound—every resolution needs a date associated with it. When do you plan to deliver on that resolution. It could be by year-end (December 31) or it could be more near-term (March 31).

3. Write them down. This is critical. There is a huge power in writing your resolutions on paper even if you never develop an action plan or do anything else.

4. Go public. Tell your family and friends what you are committed to achieving. Going public creates accountability and leverage. Several years ago, I blogged about my goal to run a half marathon. Once I did that, there was no turning back. People would ask, “So how’s your training going?” I wanted to have a good answer, so I would haul myself out of bed and go run.

Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”