5 ways to make resolutions that stick

Photo by Estée Janssens

For most of us, the resolutions we made today won’t last very long. According to this Business Insider article, 80% of resolutions fail by the second week of February.

The success rate on resolutions are so notoriously low that some people don’t even see the point any more.

What if there was some way to maximize the likelihood of a successful outcome on your resolutions?

Living 2018 like a Project

What if we lived 2018 like it was a project? Below are some of the ideas I am trying out on the journey to achieving my 2018 goals. I will share more about how it’s going throughout the year:

  1. Using tools: I spent an embarrassing amount of time uploading my goals into Trello, my favorite web-based project management tool (this is not an ad).
  2. Using the SMART framework: I never set a goal without thinking about whether or not it follows this framework. It’s a quick way to make sure your goal is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic (I won’t go to the gym 3 times a week and I already know this) and Time-bound.
  3. Taking an iterative Problem-solving approach: I am breaking down my 2018 goals into smaller sub-goals, and sub-goals. This gives me short-term little victories that further encourage me to keep gong. The smallest unit of goals on my resolution Trello board is really small. I have accomplished some of the goals already.
  4. Separating the goal from an execution plan: My Resolution board on Trello has the goals list as well as backlog, Work-in-Progress (WIP)and accomplished lists. The big resolution starts out on the “Goals” list then gets decomposed into smaller executable steps which are on the “backlog” list. These then get worked off while on the WIP list and are marked as done on the “Accomplished” list.
  5. Having deadlines: I am not just saying I want to do X by the end of 2018. That’s great but I am breaking X into X1, X2…Xn and then assigning deadlines to each. This way, it is easier to track progress and get early feedback on my progress towards the goal. Remember, “a goal is just a dream without a deadline” — Napoleon Hill
  6. Scheduling regular retrospectives: Throughout the year, I will be evaluating how things are going. This will give me a chance to learn from the process and use the learnings to re-calibrate and improve the process.

I think this framework can work for most goals. However, it won’t work for loosely defined, open-ended goals like “I want to be a better person in 2018.”

In future posts, I will share examples on how to fit specific resolutions into the prescribed framework. Also, since this is something I am still trying to do (at this level of detail), your thoughts are very welcome.