Most people who make new year’s resolutions break them within a few weeks. So, what should we do differently this year to be more successful?

Bestselling author Daniel Pink suggests seven steps, we should consider:

      • “1. Look back on the previous year. New Year’s resolutions begin with old year’s regrets.
      • 2. Fill in the blank: “If only I _______________.”
      • 3. Make a long list of your If Only regrets.
      • 4. Pick the one — and only one — that bugs you the most.
      • 5. Make that — and only that — your New Year’s resolution. Less is more.
      • 6. Put an action plan into place by setting private commitments on the even-numbered days of January
      • 7. Tell others what you’re doing so they can hold you accountable.”

Check out this 2-minute Pinkcast.

Gretchen Rubin, also a bestselling author on habits and happiness suggests:

  1. “Identify specific actions that will support your aims.” She suggests we make concrete actions to reach our goals. For example, instead of the ubiquitous “lost ten pounds” resolution, we might say “eliminate sugar from my diet.”
  2. “Identify resolutions that are measurable.” She reiterates the importance of deciding to do the action regularly, and also to have tools in place to remain accountable to yourself or others.
  3. “Keep your resolutions manageable” She explains it’s vital to set realistic goals. I think she’d agree with Daniel Pink who said “less is more.”

Check out Gretchen Rubin‘s website to learn about her research, writings, quizzes, courses and podcast. Her work on happiness and habit changing is fascinating. She’s easy to read and follows her own advice by making her suggestions specific, measurable and manageable.

James Clear, another bestselling author and expert on habits, suggests in this podcast, we need to attach our identity to the outcome. Instead of setting a goal to read 40 books, your goal should be to become a reader. Instead of aiming to run a marathon, aim to become a runner. He says, “the more that you organize your habits around an identity rather than an outcome, the more that you see the value in just sticking with it, even if it’s a small thing.”

Organizational psychologist, and also bestselling author, Adam Grant says when we make resolutions it is our adult brain setting goals to achieve things we ought to do. However, our “teenage brain” sometimes objects because it doesn’t want to do things the adult brain wants it to do. He suggests we speak to the teenage brain with three suggestions:

  1. “Reward the teenager for adulting.” Link something we “should” do with something we “want to do.” (He agrees with Gretchen Rubin on this technique she calls pairing.)
  2. “Make the teenager responsible to others.” Again, like Rubin, he wants us to be held accountable. An example might be you choose to eat healthy foods so you can live longer to be around to help your children or aging parents.
  3. “Show the teenager future consequences.” One example he uses it to save for retirement. It feels far away to a person in their first job. However, if you show how saving a minimal amount each month for their entire career will yield a hefty retirement fund, the young adult may be willing to resolve to start saving more.

After reviewing the writings by these four thought leaders, it’s clear that new year’s resolutions are possible to achieve as long as you have a plan. By reading the work of Daniel Pink, Gretchen Rubin, James Clear and Adam Grant, among others, you can decide what and how you are going to achieve your goals. We, at Iron Butterflies Project, look forward to hearing about your successes and flying forward together. Happy New Year.