Management Matters: 2021 Will Have Success AND Bumps

If you want to make resolutions for the coming year that might actually become a reality The first thing I suggest you do is take out the list of resolutions that you made for 2020 – and after laughing at how naïve you (we ALL) were look at how things played out.

I’ve read articles that indicate that even though 50% of us actually make resolutions for the New Year, 88% of us fail at keeping them. Then add in the Covid19 pandemic and it’s not much in the way of encouraging data.

I know how we can do better at the kept-resolution rate, no matter what comes our way in 2021.

Keeping a promise you’ve made to yourself takes discipline, a skill that gets better with use like any other muscle in your body. A skill needs exercise and conditioning to be in shape. If you don’t have much will power, calling on it to suddenly be in terrific condition at the start of 2021 is asking too much.

Vague promises are not useful. Managing stress is fuzzy and not the same as developing a specific habit (turning off the email after 6:00 pm.). While many people include eating better, losing weight, quitting smoking, cutting back on liquor intake, and having better work/life balance as goals for the coming year, creating a specific goal can make you 50% more likely to actually accomplish your resolution. Focus on a specific professional improvement like connecting with each employee every other week for performance management or mentoring. Make a 2021 resolution something that is important to you with a benefit that is tangible and observable.

To increase the likelihood of successfully keeping your resolution, I encourage you to follow a few key and simple steps:

Chose ONE thing to do differently. Stack the deck in your favor by putting all of your energy into accomplishing one key change in the coming year. Rather than disperse your energy and willpower, focusing on one major change will increase your odds of success.

Build on small wins. When you want to lose 20 pounds, it might sound ridiculous to you. But the idea of losing 5 pounds feels like a much more reasonable target. Start with easy victories to build on.

Tell others. Share your resolution and enlist the help or support of others. It can make 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 focused on what you said you wanted to do. Seeing how you are moving toward achieving your goal can add to your overall happiness.

Rewards along the way. While the goal is to keep the resolution for the year, rewarding yourself along the way can keep you motivated. Enjoying desert after losing weight seems like it makes no sense but a small serving of a favorite sweet won’t add back all of the weight you’ve lost. Another idea is to reward yourself with something that has nothing to do with calories at all (There is always new technology to acquire!).

Don’t worry too much if your path to success doesn’t progress is a straight line. This past year has shown us that setbacks can happen and unforeseen circumstances can make the future impossible to predict. Strong willpower is a learned skill, not a personality trait. You can get better with practice.

You’ve got a year to make your success happen. Plan for success AND some bumps along the way

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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