Winning at Resolutions

More than half of New Year’s resolutions fail. (New York Times January 2018). However, there are ways to ensure that you are less likely to be in the 50% who don’t follow through. Here are a few ideas for you: 

⇒  Be clear on what you want to do for yourself.  Resolutions that simply follow what others are doing, or that are designed to please others are more likely to fail.  So give thought to what you want more of in your life. What would make you feel better about yourself?  What would decrease your stress?  What would give you peace?  You may even find it helpful to make a list and prioritize your resolution ideas.

⇒  Be ambitious, but break it down. If you want a college degree, but must work full time, allow yourself ample time to complete the degree around your work and life responsibilities.  The first step might not be taking a class, rather, investigating various fields of study, and schools where you might take a class.  A second step might be informational interviews with people in the field that catches your eye, to get a sense of what day to day work life is like.  Give yourself credit for every single step along the way. 

⇒  Consider a Bullet Journal If you think using a new strategy for staying organized is a good idea, this method may work for you.  Bullet journals are an innovative analog way to commit time (and as much creativity as you would like) to help you stay on top of your resolutions to change.

⇒  There’s an app for that! The WOOP app (free!) helps you identify goals, barriers to goals, and solutions to the barriers.  The simple act of writing the goals, barriers, and solutions makes it more likely that you will follow through.  This is a low risk, simple, quick thing for you to try.

Sometimes goals naturally combine in a beautiful way.  Let’s say your goal is to get more exercise, and you decide to give your dog a nice walk every day.  Walking is great exercise!  This is a wonderful way to get started.  Along the way, you notice that there are other people out there walking their dogs, and suddenly, the exercise goal has gotten social.  Coincidentally, you’ve accomplished another goal: making new friends, by beginning the exercise goal.  If you decide to use a wearable tracking device,  you might experience even more additional benefits.  These devices have options for tracking other health habits, such as calories burned, heart rate, and quality of sleep.  Some devices even send you a periodic reminder to get up and move around.  Your goal of getting more exercise has suddenly turned into a very productive activity!

If you are trying to change a habit that you believe is bad for you, such as smoking, a first step might be to metaphorically put on a lab coat and analyze your habit from outside of yourself, like a scientist.  The “data” you discover might be tracked in a bullet journal.  The scientist part of you begins to track (without judgement, because scientists don’t judge!) the time of day and number of cigarettes smoked.  You may even decide to track amount of money spent on cigarettes.  Now that you have all of this data, you can begin to think about what you would do with the money that you used to spend on cigarettes once you quit.  You might also research methods to quit smoking.  Chantix, Nicorette, The Patch, cold turkey…which method do you think would work best for you?  On the other hand, you might decide to simply cut down.  All new perspectives and outcomes are a win!

Here are some other common new year’s resolutions, and ideas for how to get started:


Being more social

Avoid “Anti”-Social Media! 

Track your time on social media and begin to set limits.  Consider, volunteer, start a book discussion group

Improve a relationship

Get active!

Send a card “snail mail”, perform random acts of kindness

De-stress interactions with family

Take control!

Add structure through activities, and limit the amount of time you spend with those who deplete you.


Remember to give yourself credit for every step along the way.  If you’ve read this blog post, you’ve take a step in the right direction.  Good luck in all you set out to achieve!  You can do it!





Categories: For Patients