The only resolution you need this year

Annie Sisk — №34 with Greg McKeown

Feels a lot like the old year, doesn’t it?

Except for that whole “new year” vibe, of course.

Certain times of the year have a built-in encouragement factor for those of us looking to get more of the right stuff done – New Year’s is probably the biggest of those, followed closely by the “back to school” silly season.

So, it’s to be expected that we all feel some amount of pressure to revitalize our big plans and dreams when January 1st rolls around each year.

But – as study after study has shown by now – making resolutions sets us up for failure, fast. The simple truth is most of us do not carry through with our resolutions past January 31st – and a sizable chunk of us fall off the respective wagons even before then, around mid-way through the month.

So if resolutions don’t work, then what does?

Are we all just doomed? Was Dr. House right? People really don’t change?

Nah. He was flat-ass wrong (and flat-out an ass, but that’s a whole ‘nother blog post).

The simple and easy-to-swallow truth: Most of us fail to change not because we don’t want to bad enough, or aren’t capable of change – but because we forget.

We forget we’re on a diet.

We forget we’re trying to work out more.

We forget we’re supposed to be restricting our email activities to three times a day in favor of actually producing.

And when that immediate, instant choice presents itself – you can check email or work on your latest masterpiece, you can eat this bar of chocolate or that carrot stick, you can go work out or watch another Law and Order episode – we default to the one that brings us the most immediate pleasure. (Hint: it’s not the masterpiece, the carrot, or the workout.)

The only resolution you need to make this year?

Create an in-your-face method and system of tracking your progress and reminding yourself constantly of your goals and intentions, so you can continue to be consistent in your efforts until it all becomes a habit.

You can use anything that can stand for a progress log and mindfulness tool. You can use a notebook or mobile app. What I need in order to have my system working are several sections or tabs:

Every morning, when I begin the day’s work, I start with a fifteen-minute preview/review session that includes a quick scan of the active projects and the “next task on the list” for that project’s accomplishment.

What’s the key?

The key is to keep those intentions of change/improvement/accomplishment front and center in your mind. Whatever works for you in this regard is genius, as far as I’m concerned.

Of course the other aspect of successful change is your motivation level – your “why”s, as I’ve written about before, which are crucial. But intriguingly, if you can create a system that helps you stay focused on the project, I’ve found the “why”’s tend to get stronger and more vivid, psychologically speaking. It’s almost as if the more you think about a goal that you’ve taken the time to map out and plan for, the more it means to you.

Imagine that.

Photo: Flickr / Simon Matzinger CC BY 2.0

Annie sisk

Annie Sisk

Annie Sisk is the host of the Pajama Productivity Podcast and also blogs about productivity and creativity at

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