New Year’s Resolutions, Take Two!

We are about 2 or 3 weeks into the New Year.  Are you keeping your New Year’s resolutions for improving your business and/or your personal life?   If so, congratulations! No need to read the remainder of this article now, but keep the article handy because the next few weeks are prime time to start to slip on those resolutions.  

If you are starting to slip on the resolutions, ask yourself the following six questions:

  • Do you really care about your resolutions? If not, it is time to make a new resolution you really do care about.
  • Do you have too many resolutions? Some experts recommend having only 1.
  • Are you trying to stop doing something or not do something?  This is very difficult to do.  (If you doubt this, be absolutely sure you do not visualize a lion right now.)  You may need a new strategy to start doing something instead (e.g., have a carrot when you want to snack rather than trying not to snack).
  • Do you have an organized plan with small incremental steps to fulfill your resolution or are you trying to achieve your resolution in one giant step?  Small steps with very regular commitments are much more effective than giant steps.
  • Are you discussing your progress with a colleague, family member, or friend?  This is a very helpful thing to do – it can help encourage progress and drive motivation.
  • Are you putting too much pressure on yourself to succeed?  Too much pressure may be counterproductive.

Now that we’ve answered these six critical questions, let us not wait until next December to come up with new resolutions.  Instead, let us come up with resolutions for this year and start the process of thinking of 2015 resolutions now.

If you have any doubts about your having selected the right resolutions, please write down everything that you can think of that you could change…one item per small piece of paper.  Then arrange these slips of paper in order of importance and achievability.  If you would like to do this systematically, please refer to my article, Should You Do It: A Prioritization and Decision Making Tool, in Volume 1, Issue 8 of RISBJ (

Choose 1 or at absolute most 2 or 3 resolutions to work on for 2014 and 2015.  If a resolution of choice is to stop doing something, replace it with a resolution to do something.  For example, don’t resolve to stop doing email first thing in the morning; instead, resolve to call a customer before you do anything else.

Prepare a plan outlining very specific small steps you will take each week to help you achieve your resolution and record these on your calendar.  If you would like to do this systematically using a technique that has been shown to work, please refer to my article, Use the Tuesday Technique to Help Get It Done, in Volume 1, Issue 6 of RISBJ (

Schedule time every Tuesday to talk with someone about and hopefully celebrate your progress on your 2014 resolutions. Celebrate small steps. Even if you did not fully achieve what you planned to, celebrate the progress you did make and just adjust your calendar to accommodate the slower progress.  Try not to have a no progress or a regression week, but if you do, don’t give up, just reset the calendar (and be pleased your regression wasn’t worse than it was). Once or twice per quarter discuss your 2015 resolutions and plans, learning from your 2014 experience, so that executing your 2015 resolutions will be easier.

Before you know it, December 31 will be here.  Have a big celebration to recognize your accomplishments.  For the next day is January 1, and it will be time to start achieving the 2015 resolutions.

1 Special thanks to Margarita Posada Cossuto for helpful comments.

2 See Why We Don’t Keep Our New Year’s Resolutions December 21, 2013 blog post in Psychology Today for further discussion (

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