Forget New Year’s Resolutions. Do This Instead

This proven method will help you design goals that create real results.

You don’t have to settle for average for yet another year.

The New Year is right around the corner and with year-end planning underway, you’re probably mapping out what you want to accomplish in 12 months ahead.

Whether you’re resolving to leave your dead-end job, speak up more in meetings or finally get started on the side projects you’ve been putting off, there’s one indisputable truth that’s impossible to ignore: change is hard.

Nearly one-half of Americans make New Year’s resolutions, but just 8% follow-through and accomplish their goals.

Most of us are familiar with the cycle: You’re jazzed in January only to find yourself derailed and demotivated within a few weeks. You beat yourself up for failing to achieve your full potential despite your best intentions.

But creating deep, lasting change is less about willpower and more about designing smart, effective goals.

Try this new method to set New Year’s resolutions that create real results.

Turn Resolutions Into Questions

Asking questions and then answering them–instead of making statements–is a more effective method for sticking to your promises, research finds.

Enter: the “Questolution”.

Instead of pledging to start a business in the New Year, it would be more effective to ask “How might I go about getting my first client?” or “What commitments might prevent me from going all in?”

This type of solution-oriented inquiry has been shown to produce consistent, significant changes in a variety of contexts from exercise and eating healthier to voting and gender stereotyping.

Why It Works

A question is a puzzle. It prompts a psychological response. Once question has been raised, the mind almost can’t help trying to solve or answer it.

By posing your resolution in the form of a question rather than a statement, you begin to engage with it. Your brain goes to work breaking down the problem, sequencing next steps and creating a path to success.

Questions spark creative, flexible thinking. Embracing challenges with curiosity helps liberate you from a perfectionist mindset and worrying about the “right” way you “should” go about achieving your goals.

Questolutions For Success

Asking ambitious, yet actionable, questions can shift the way you think — and can serve as a catalyst to bring about change. They can help you get unstuck and rediscover momentum in your life or career.

Use the prompts below to create your own questolutions:

How might I…
 … fit exercise into my day?
 … double my income?
What if I…
 … blogged regularly?
 … spent one hour a week learning a new skill?
What do I need/want…
 …to add to my workspace to make it more comfortable?
 … to let go to feel more confident about my ability to succeed?

If you’re more of the journaling type, get a printable goal-setting worksheet here.


Melody Wilding teaches human behavior at The City University of New York and is a nationally recognized Master Coach who distills psychological insights into actionable advice. A licensed social worker trained at Columbia University, she’s helped thousands of professional women and female entrepreneurs master their mindset and emotions for greater success. Melody has worked with CEOs and executives running top startups along with published authors and media personalities.

Originally published at www.forbes.com on December 19, 2016.

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