Each year many of us sit down and declare what we like and don’t like about ourselves, our lives, our businesses, or our families and create a plan to remedy the situation with a resolution.

However, according to a 2007 study by Richard Wiseman from the University of Bristol, 88% of the 3,000 people studied who set New Year resolutions failed. [1]

I tell you this not to discourage, but to encourage. Behavior is tough to change overnight. Yet, that’s what we think we can do; go from December 31 to January 1 with a drastic life change. However, with a few changes of thought about resolutions, I think your success rate can increase drastically.

Set Realistic Goals

Keep it simple. A change of habit or behavior is hard enough as it is. However, when we think we can go from 0 to 60 in a day, we are setting ourselves up for failure. Take practical steps that lead to early successes. Instead of declaring daily exercise when you haven’t exercised in the last two months, start with 2 days per week. After a month of success, add an additional day. Gradual change will almost always lead to higher degrees of success.

Buddy System

Regardless of whether your goals are the same or not, find a close friend or your spouse and hold each other accountable. Keep each other up to date on the success (or failure) and be quick to encourage. Instilling confidence despite bumps in the road will help tremendously.

Don’t Give Up

I hate to break it to you, but chances are very high that you are probably going to fail along the road. Don’t let that be discouraging. If you miss a day at the gym, go the next day. If you spend the money that you wanted to invest, clamp down next month and invest that money. Give yourself some grace and keep moving forward.

So here we are, January 10th. How are your resolutions holding up? If you’re like me, you’ve already had to catch up from missing or skipping a day. However, I am not giving up. I’m going to pick up right where I left off and move forward.


[1] Blame It on the Brain: The latest neuroscience research suggests spreading resolutions out over time is the best approach, Wall Street Journal, December 26, 2009