Photo by Alex Blăjan

The secret to achieve your New Year’s resolution

Have you ever made a New Year’s resolution? How did it go? Did you manage to achieve what you wanted?

According to statistics about 45% of Americans usually make new Year’s resolution. Only a mere 8% of those manages to achieve it. Less than one in ten. And I don’t think this is very different throughout the world.

So the question is how come we are so bad at New Year’s resolutions? Why can’t we manage to keep our world and achieve change in our lives even when we really want it?


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Two systems in our brain

The reason is that there are 2 systems in our brain. One is our impulsive brain, our auto-pilot, our intuition, the fast and quick, emotional part. And that is the one that wants to eat that candy.

The other one is our analytical, slow reasoning, information processing brain. And that is the one that knows that you are on a diet and you shouldn’t eat it.

So when we see that candy and we are on a diet the two systems interact for a moment and in that moment a New Year’s resolution is born: we eat that candy and we promise ourselves that we are going to really start our diet on Monday, next month or next year (if we are close enough to New Year’s eve). We procrastinate to “next you_name_it” instead of acting now. Is there any way we could help that and achieve at least a little of what we want?

I believe there is and I would like to share with you some tips and tricks that worked for me.

A personal story

Few years ago I started having very serious back pains, so much that a couple of times I had to stay for an entire week in bed, incapable of moving.

The physiotherapist I visited said that it was either the stress or my abs were too weak and the back was overcompensating. So I either reduced the stress or strengthened my abdomen. Or both.

You have to know that I always have had a very soft belly, I always wanted to have this nice Arnold’s six pack but I never managed, because I never had a real reason why but now it seemed I had.

I went back home I started googling and I found an article about doing planks. You know this exercise where you have to be in the same position as when you are doing push-ups and you have to keep your back straight for a certain amount of time.

The article was saying that just by doing this 5 minutes exercise per day you would have had strong abs. And you could start with just 30 seconds.

Of course I can do 30 seconds!” I thought.

Well I was wrong. I tried and after 10 seconds I crashed on the floor. At that point I promised to myself and to my wife that I would have done that exercise every morning after breakfast.

After reaching 30 seconds I added another 10 seconds. And every time 10 more seconds. When reaching one minute I added a new variant of the exercise.

Long story short: it’s two years that I am completely back pain free (crossing fingers) and now my exercise lasts about 12 minutes (not in a row ;) ).


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Tips & tricks to achieve what you want

What did I learn from this experience?

1) START SMALL: Start small and add a tiny fraction every day/week/month: we will never start something if it involves a 45 minutes activity. If you start small you are removing the friction to start. Make it easy to start by starting small.

2) BE SPECIFIC: Be specific on what, when and how you are going to achieve your goal. Don’t say that you want to lose weight. Say that you will lose 2Kg in the next 6 months. Or even better that you will eat only 80 grams of pasta instead of the usual 100 grams.

3) COMMIT TO SOMEONE: I committed to my wife. You can do a bet with some friend or tell Facebook. Peer pressure or the need to demonstrate something to someone can be a fantastic motivator.

4) BE CONSISTENT — BUILD A RITUAL: Connect the change to something that you do already. This will help you to be consistent and disciplined. You will lose any excuse to give up. I did it with my breakfast, I have breakfast everyday and it’s difficult to escape it.

So if you are planning to make a New Year’s resolution. DON’T! If you want to change something start now. Start small, Be specific, Commit publicly and build a ritual. This is what worked for me and I hope if will also work for you.


I am an entrepreneur and speaker. I tap into my experiences talking about entrepreneurship, startups, life-hacking, leadership and company culture. I love to explore the intersection between technology and humans.

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