New Year’s Resolutions – Two Simple Steps to Make Them Work


Making Resolutions? – Make Them Work and Make Them Fun.

Tis the time of year people get fixated on resolutions for the new year. We all know how this usually goes. Big plans. High goals. Failure. It need not be so.

I mentioned in an earlier blog that I like the idea of personal resolutions on your birthday, rather than for the new year. This seems to me a more personal way to focus on such aspirations. But the tradition of doing this in January seems a strong pull for many of us; so be it.

I would like to share a modest, two step suggestion to increase substantially the odds of you being pleased with the outcome of your resolutions. Try this:

First, no more than two resolutions. That’s it. Only two. Your odds of failing go up exponentially with every additional resolution. In making those two, only one can be a self-improvement resolution (exercise more, lose weight, read more, etc.). Pick ONE thing that you think would make some positive change in your life and focus only on that one. Quit trying to solve everything you don’t like about yourself in one long list.

The other resolution? Make it something fun. Pick something that gives you pleasure. Do it just because it does give you pleasure, not because it might make you a better person. Two that I have done in the past sure worked for me. I chose more walks in the woods with my dog and I pledged not to go more than 10 days without hot fudge. These are resolutions I can keep indefinitely, I do believe. So far, so good.

Second, put some realistic timelines/goals around that first resolution. You can always build on modest success. It is harder to recover from early failure. A case in point: I belonged to a commercial gym for several years. I avoided it the first three weeks of January. Why? Because it was flooded with “Resolutionists” who had not seen a gym lately, but had resolved to come every day, or even every other day. Most were burned out before the end of the month, all were pretty well gone by Presidents Day.

Those who persisted and thrived were usually the ones who started out more modestly. They set a goal of at least 30 minutes, twice a week, for two months. That was doable and they built a habit. Then they progressed to 3 days a week, 45 minutes each. And so on. Realistic goals, timelines to reevaluate, stepping stones up to progress.

So, go easy on yourself. Pick just two resolutions, be realistic about them, set some benchmarks. Then go get a hot fudge sundae to celebrate your coming victories.

Happy New Year, everyone. See you at the gym 🙄?

        Bill Clontz

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5 replies to New Year’s Resolutions – Two Simple Steps to Make Them Work

  1. I like your idea of restricting resolutions to just two making them manageable and fun (at least one of them). I think we sometimes confuse our “wish list” or “bucket list” with with New Year resolutions. The prior lists can be long and full of dreams with few being accomplished in any given year. Resolutions are immediate plans to change behavior for our own good and are really more important. Separating these lists in your mind makes choosing just two resolutions a more focused exercise, and more achievable next year.

    • Well said, Jerry- as usual. Best wishes for the New Year.

  2. Great idea, limiting to two! Also, connecting to a previous habit gives us a better chance of success, as explained by James Clear author of Atomic Habits:

    “When it comes to building new habits, you can use the connectedness of behavior to your advantage. One of the best ways to build a new habit is to identify a current habit you already do each day and then stack your new behavior on top. This is called habit stacking… For example:

    · After I pour my cup of coffee each morning, I will meditate for one minute.
    · After I take off my work shoes, I will immediately change into my workout clothes.
    · After I sit down to dinner, I will say one thing I’m grateful for that happened today…”

    I like this except for letting my coffee cool while I meditate!

    • And there is always that whole thing about actually exercising after we change into workout clothes…🙄

  3. Ha! So true. Workout clothes are also comfy for not working out.

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