Management Matters: Make Resolutions That Stick

If you want to make resolutions for 2019 that will actually happen - first take out that list of resolutions that you made for 2018. How did you do?

I’ve read that while almost 50% of us make resolutions for the New Year, 88% of us fail to keep them. That is not very encouraging to hear - but I know how you can get a better ‘kept-resolution rate.’

Keeping a promise you’ve made to yourself takes discipline and is a skill much like any other. It requires practice to stay in shape. If you don’t have a lot of will power or have some pretty bad habits when it comes to developing new skills, calling on yourself to suddenly have that set of skills if terrific condition on January 1 is simply asking too much.

Vague promises are not useful. Saying you will manage your stress better is a fuzzy promise and not the same as developing the specific habit of turning the email off after 7:00 pm. While we all know someone who will include eating better, losing weight, quitting smoking, cutting back on liquor intake, and having better work/life balance as goals for 2019, creating a specific goal can make you 50% more likely to actually accomplish your resolution. Instead of focusing on self-improvement, you might want to focus on professional improvement and set the specific goal of meeting with employees every other week for performance management. Make the new resolution something that is important to you with a benefit that is tangible is better than an ambiguous and unspecific statement.

To increase the chance of being successful at keeping your resolution, follow these simple steps:

One Not Some – Choose one thing to do differently. Stack the deck in your favor by putting all of your energy into accomplishing one key change in 2019. Rather than disperse your energy and willpower, focusing on one major change in your life will increase the odds of success.

Build on Small Wins – When a doctor admonishes you to lose 20 pounds, you probably laugh at the absurdity of such an enormous sounding goal. But losing 5 pounds is a much more doable target. Start with easy victories to build on.

Share - Tell others about your resolution and enlist their help or support. Sharing your goals can be the difference between failure and success. Other people can have a tremendous impact on your behavior. Sometimes, writing it down and keeping it visible can help you keep the focus on what you want to do. Seeing how you are moving toward achieving your goal adds to your overall happiness.

Rewards Matter – The goal is to keep the resolution for the year but rewarding yourself along the way will keep you motivated. Enjoying a favorite desert after losing weight seems counterproductive but a small serving of a favorite sweet won’t add back all of the weight you’ve lost. You could also reward yourself with something that has nothing to do with calories at all such as a massage or a special purchase you’ve been putting off.

Don’t worry if your path to success is not a straight and true line. Setbacks happen and there can be unforeseen circumstances that made the future impossible to predict. Strong willpower is a learned skill, not a personality trait. You can get better with practice. The goal is progress – not perfection.

Joni Daniels is Principal of Daniels & Associates, a management training and development consulting practice that specializes in developing human resources in the areas of leadership and management training, interpersonal effectiveness and efficiency, skill- building, and organizational development interventions. With over 25 years of experience, she is a sought after resource for Fortune 500 clients, professional organizations, higher education, media outlets and business publications. Joni can be reached at

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