So, You’ve Made a New Year’s Resolution!


Congratulations! That’s very exciting. You’ve made a RESOLUTION to do something new! Or better. Or differently.

Or to stop doing something bad. Or ineffective. Or harmful.

But that’s good! You’ve resolved! Sounds so official. A New Year and a New You! This time it will be different!

Except no, it won’t.

Because resolving to do something, or stop doing something, doesn’t mean Jack. The only thing that’s changed is your feeling about what should be different. It’s all in your head.

And the only reason you’ve “resolved” now is the approach of a clean, unblemished, large white piece of paper called The New Year, upon which nothing is written, and nothing is smudged.

A resolution without a plan is a treadmill turned clothes drying rack. It’s a rolled up yoga mat in the basement in March. It’s a half box of nicotine patches in the vanity drawer by the end of January.

I know. I’ve been there.

There are lots of theories on how to affect change, and behavior. To me, lasting change has always consisted of these elements:

  • Motivation - WHY a change in behavior is needed. The harder the change, the bigger the why needs to be. For example, for decades I failed to quit smoking, literally dozens if not hundreds of times. But when my son busted me and told me he was disappointed in me, I promised him I would never smoke again. He became my why, and I quit. Disappointing him again was worse than the torturous withdrawal of not smoking.
  • Ability - Don’t plan on learning to dunk a basketball if you’re 5’0” and 60 years old. Dream big, but don’t be crazy.
  • Vision - Clarity on what the sustainable new behavior will be and look like. 
  • A Plan - Consisting of scheduled regular, sustainable, executable, and trackable actions that become a pattern over time.
  • Resources - The tools and supplies needed to execute the actions. For example, these can even be mobile apps for helping you track progress.

Assuming all these elements are workable, the process goes like this:

Plan >> Schedule >> Execute >> Track >> Evaluate >> Adjust

  1. Plan - Make the time to make the plan. The plan is what actions you will take, when, and how often. Put in as much detail as is practical and sustainable. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but it has to be reasonably workable.
  2. Schedule - If you don’t schedule the actions in the plan, they won’t get done. Take time to schedule week, or every day if need be.
  3. Execute -While not the easy part, if you have a plan, it’s the simple part.
  4. Track - Track your progress. This is simply answering the question, “Did I do what I planned to do today” in a quantifiable way. For example, “Did I get my planned run in today?” “Did I log my hours today?” Tracking consistently should give you a boost of satisfaction when you execute, and provide motivation (not pressure) when you don’t.
  5. Evaluate - Monitor your progress. You’ll know after a week or two where the issues are. Are you missing morning workouts more than evening workouts? Are there certain days or times of day that present issues? Are you struggling with nicotine cravings after meals or in certain situations?
  6. Adjust - If something isn’t working don’t be bullheaded, but don’t give up, adjust! Can you work out more in the evening? Can you log yesterday’s hours first thing in the morning before distractions? Can you avoid the smoking entrance to the building? All planes go off course, and all pilots course correct. Make it part of the process.

I wish I had some snappy, contrived acronym for this, but I don’t. PSETEA stinks, but it is what it is.

Despite the opening sarcasm, I do admire you for recognizing something has to change.

Now go do it. I wish you all the best in the New Year and beyond.

And hey, you can always dump a used treadmill on Craigslist.