According to research, only half of New Year resolutions make it out of January (27% given up in first week), and only 8% last the year, fulfilled or not. If making New Year resolutions, or any time of year resolutions, hasn’t worked out well for you, try my methodical approach based on research and a few decades of personal experience in the new printable workbook, with detailed instructions, I have just created to share. It’s on a separate page so as to have a tidy URL, but creation of those pages don’t get “announced” so I am writing a post for it.
The approach is basically a plan for success, with assistance from behavioral science. The steps include:
- What’s your resolution idea?
- Why & for whom are you doing this?
- How will you know when you’ve succeeded?
- Why did you choose the target you chose?
- What must you habituate to achieve success?
- How will you form the new habit needed?
- What exemption from your habit will you allow?
- How will you track your progress?
- How will you be held accountable?
- What are your levels of success?
- Putting it all together (aka writing a clean, final copy)
From all the steps, you can tell it’s not something you do in a flash! But hey, if resolution planning were easy, the success rate wouldn’t be 8%! Unless your resolution was something quick and easy, don’t be expecting to be outside of that 92% failure rate for something that is a commitment for a year, or most of it!
In the past few decades, I have done my resolutions roughly using these guidelines. The longer ago it was, the less of the list I used, and the less I wrote down the details, which is the “pro-tip” I offer since there is something very committal to the psyche for writing things down. It also slows down the process to think, and things stare back at you to tell you when things aren’t quite “right” or unrealistic for you, or at least more daunting than you thought it was when it’s just bouncing around in your head. Until this year, though, I had never worked from a complete list, like the one I shared, consistently relying on the “rough” list of those key points in my head that has become second nature to me in identifying and preparing for my resolutions. It yielded pretty good results (see below), but I decided to take my resolutions fulfillment to a new level for 2021 and future years by documenting the process so I could consistently, and completely, plan every resolution equally thoroughly. It took a lot of work because there were a lot of parts, and they needed to be in order for someone new to the process. It was all cluttered in my mind to this point. But now that I had it, of course, I would share it in case it could help others, even if they don’t do things in the exact same way. It’ll at least give them lots to think about, which is ultimately the key to succeeding at resolutions, to plan that road to success, and why so many fail, because they tend to just make some off the cuff, maybe half thought about, maybe quarter planned out, commitment when they announce resolutions.
As examples of my process, I will share my resolutions and planning details on this blog in upcoming posts. They won’t all be done by January 1st as the formal documentation ready for presentation won’t all be ready by then. It’ll be a lot, but I know how to manage it all from experience. However, I will share the resolutions as I get them, and an interactive way I, and anybody who cares, can see daily progress via an interactive online visual, I will build with my data visualization skills!
Finally, for past records, I usually succeed “fully” somewhere between half and two thirds of about a dozen resolutions a year. By succeed “fully”, I mean I fulfilled the resolution as I had intended it. Part of my method, though, has “levels” of success, which I brand as Gold, Silver, and Bronze, so if the Gold standard (the resolution as intended) can’t be met, I can still try for the Silver or Bronze standard so as not to waste all the effort, and still get something out of it, should it still remained meaningful to me. Many resolutions are new things to try, and humans are generally terrible at predicting, both, the future and what they’ll like. So some things I commit to, I will find out I no longer care for much as I get deep into it, and will abandon the resolution. However, I rarely do because of having asked myself all those questions in the method I devised, so I still fight for those other standards, and regroup to see if I want to try again the next year, or if the level I had attained were sufficient. In terms of completion rate, as in seeing resolutions through the year, at Gold standard or not, I’m flying at about 92%, by coincidence to the average failure rate, with about one resolution abandoned among roughly a dozen each year. By Gold standard success rate, between 50-67% most years. Compare that to the 8% rate for seeing things through the year, successful or not! But there’s no magic to it. I just plan things well with my method, and work hard at it, partially guaranteed by having strong motivators identified in the process. In 2020, I am looking at:
- Seeing through 19 of 21 resolutions for the year;
- 14 Gold standards;
- 1 Silver standard;
- 4 Bronze standard; and
- 2 Abandoned.
Don’t you want your resolution fulfillment to be something like that? If you do, and were willing to put in the work, give my method a try!