How to Keep Your New Year’s Resolution This Year.

I love New Year’s Eve. I enjoy the feeling of the fresh start. However, like most people, I have made more New Year’s Resolutions than I have kept.

New Year's Resolutions | | Rethinking Leadership

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According to, only two-thirds of us maintain our New Year’s Resolutions past the first month, and less than half continue past 6 months. I have a few suggestions that can increase the chances that you will keep your resolutions this year. I have culled these tips from the business management literature.

1. Focus on one primary goal.

I have really screwed up here. I was too ambitious and set too many goals. Then, I failed to reach most of them.

Focus on one primary goal.

Choose the goal that will give you the greatest return this year. Think and pray hard before deciding. Then pursue it wholeheartedly.

Dave Ramsey suggests that 80% of the rich focus on a single goal compared with only 12% of the poor who do this.

2. Measure.

You need to know where you are and where you want to go. Take stock now and then devise clear plans that will help you achieve your goal.

If you are in business, or have taken a business management course, you have likely seen SMART goals before. Smart goals are:






SMART goals work. They are powerful. This power comes from clarity. You cannot be vague about what you want if you hope to achieve your goal.

3. Take action and watch things begin to fall into place. 

Taking action is critically important.

Get your MBA at Charleston Southern UniversityJust thinking about your goal gets you nowhere. However, when you take action, you find that things begin to fall into place. You open yourself up to greater opportunity. You see things you did not see before. Others can only aid you when they know the actions you are taking. First…

You must act.

Without action, your change remains theoretical.

4. Rethink the issue

Newt Gingrich once quipped that “the system you have is perfectly geared to give you what you are getting.” So, if you want to get different outputs next year, you have to fundamentally change part of the system.

You are most likely to change the system when you think about it differently.

For instance, what if debt was not just a “bad” thing, but a monster preventing you from being free, keeping you as a slave to that job you hate? How many ways could you think of to slay that monster?

5. Remember that decisions are made at the margin. 

This is a concept borrowed from economics.

For our purposes, it  means that you will not get stuck thinking about the enormity of your goal. That can be overwhelming. You must let go of “all or nothing” thinking here.

Instead, look at what is next and make choices that lead you the right direction. Consciously take baby steps toward your goal.

For example, suppose you want to write a book. Don’t look at how long the book will be. That is crippling. Instead, write the first few pages. Know that they will be an imperfect rough draft in need of later editing. Once written, you have moved closer to your goal.  Small choices add up and compound.

6. Remove the large obstacles.

While you are making the small choices, be aware that all choices are not equal. Some choices may significantly retard your progress.

Suppose that you your primary goal is to win back the love and trust of your significant other.

You have reframed the issue by recognizing that if he or she left (because of your issues) you would spend your life savings in counseling if necessary in order to fix what is broken and  restore the relationship.

With that in mind, you were willing to go to the counselling that you had previously resisted.

You have worked on daily demonstrating your sincerity with small acts of thoughtfulness.

You are doing everything right so far.  Just know that the next drunken bender might wipe away all the progress you have made. Make a plan to eliminate such large obstacles so they do not prevent you from success.

Need More?

Tomorrow, I will provide a case study utilizing all of the principles discussed above to demonstrate how to actually apply them.

According to the number 1 New Year’s Resolution is weight loss, so THE ACTION PLAN will utilize these principles to discuss weight loss.

Rank Top 10 New Years resolutions for 2014
Lose Weight
Getting Organized
Spend Less, Save More
Enjoy Life to the Fullest
Staying Fit and Healthy
Learn Something Exciting
Quit Smoking
Help Others in Their Dreams
Fall in Love
Spend More Time with Family


Note: I am not a medical doctor. My Ph.D. is in organizational leadership. I am not dispensing medical advice but a strategy to help you rethink your goals.  In other words, don’t sue me. See you tomorrow.

-Darin Gerdes, Ph.D.

PS. If you are aspire to become a better leader, subscribe to the blog (add your email address in the box in the upper right hand corner). Openly share anything I provide here. All content is free. I view this blog as an extension of my classroom. Enjoy!

Dr. Gerdes is the Director of Graduate Programs in the School of Business at Charleston Southern University. All ideas expressed on are his own.


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