Advice on making New Years’ resolutions

My backyard
A photo of my backyard. Totally unrelated to this post, but what would go with New Years' resolutions anyway?!

Use this three-step guide to making resolutions

  1. Decide on broad goals and include a WHY.
  2. Highlight a small thing to do to help you get to your goal and establish timing. Don’t worry about ‘completion’ or even results at this point, just focus on behaviors!
  3. Check in regularly to evaluate your progress, determine whether your actions are leading to positive results, and — if not — refine stuff 🙂

More details

Start with goals + why’s

EXAMPLES

  • I want to learn to speak and read some Japanese so I can enjoy my trips to Japan more.
  • I want to sleep better so I feel more refreshed in the morning and at the top of my game during the day.
  • I want to learn more tricks & tools associated with music composition so I can enjoy the satisfaction of composing pieces without so much hassle and frustration.

Pick the ‘small thing’ + timing

EXAMPLES

  • … and I will spend an average of 15 minutes a night learning hiragana and katakana.
  • … and I will not eat anything or drink alcohol after 9pm and I will lay in bed, without my phone, by midnight each night.
  • … and I will spend an hour every week watching videos or reading material pertaining to music composition and spend another hour composing or arranging music.

Notice I didn’t write stuff like “I will sleep 8 hours a night” or “I will write 4 songs.” Of course, if I end up still feeling tired, or fail to write any pieces in the first month or so, then I’ll retool my plans :). I know that conventional wisdom says to focus on the results, but I firmly believe that focusing on improving behaviors is more effective and sustainable.

In the past, I’ve actually used a Google spreadsheet to track how well I’ve done each behavior, and I think I’ll try that again this year :). In part, it’s a reminder that good is better than perfect, and past failure is no excuse for subsequent failure; seeing lots of checkmarks is inspiring even if it’s not 100% in a set! (for some, “Don’t break the streak!” is motivating!)

Lastly, consider NOT entirely avoiding something that you enjoy… but rather just bound it to a more positive behavior or by timing. “I can eat a serving of chocolate after I’ve already eaten a serving of fruit” rather than “No more chocolate!” Or “I can browse Reddit for 30 minutes a day on my desktop, but no mindless scrolling on my phone, so I’m removing the app!”


Do you tend to make New Years’ resolutions? If so, do you follow a process like the geeky one I’ve outlined above? 🙂

[Pictured: a totally-unrelated photo of my backyard. Yay, Meyer lemons, which should be ready in another month or so!]

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.