Say “NO” to New Years Resolutions

Where did 2015 go? OMG!  Time to close out the year, shop for the holidays and make 2016 New Year resolutions.  Why do we do this to ourselves?  Where did the word resolution originate anyway?  According to and online etymology dictionary, it all started in 14c., “a breaking into parts,” from Old French resolution (14c.) or directly from Latin resolutionem “process of reducing things into simpler forms, “from past participle stem of resolvere “loosen.”  Sense of “a solving” …first recorded 1540s, as is that of “power of holding firmly.” (cf. resolute).   Okay, that’s enough of the history for me. According to Wikipedia, the tradition of making promises has religious origins and essentially, the concept is to reflect upon self improvement annually. The origins and intent of resolutions are positive and often result in personal goals.

Top ten 2015 New Years Resolutions:

  1. Stay fit and healthy (37%)
  2. Lose weight (32%)
  3. Enjoy life to the fullest (28%)
  4. Spend less, save more (25%)
  5. Spend more time with family and friends(19%)
  6. Get organized (18%)
  7. Will not make any resolutions (16%)
  8. Learn something new/new hobby (14%)
  9. Travel more (14%)
  10. Read more (12%)

Source: Nielson

Only 8% Achieve Success

I was intrigued by this list, not because there were any surprises, but I found it interesting that the “top ten” were variations on the same annual themes.  While 45% of Americans make New Year’s resolutions, according to a University of Scranton study, only 8% of people achieve their New Year’s resolutions.  Really? We need to scrap the resolutions and set attainable goals.

Preparing for 2016 Success!

Instead of New Year’s resolutions, set specific, measureable goals and enlist an accountability partner.  One of the obvious problems with the “top ten” list is that the resolutions are too vague, not measurable and are often not backed by plans or timeframes.  Furthermore, I think it is very important to ask the question: “Towards what end?”  What are you really trying to achieve and why?  So many people get caught up in popular notions and have not really thought through what achievement of the resolution might mean for them and for the ones they love.

Let’s look at 2015 resolution #6 — Get organized.  What if you were to set a specific goal of organizing your home-mail daily to ensure the following:

  • On-time bill payment (pay monthly and eventually transition to e-payments)
  • Reducing clutter by 80% (most of it is probably stuff you can toss)
  • Categorizing tax-related documents monthly (will simplify tax time)
  • Reclaiming counter space

Your metrics:

  • Immediate filing of pending bills in bill-payment folder
  • A clutter-free mail area or kitchen counter
  • Immediate filing of tax-documents in a folder
  • Immediate transfer of junk mail to the circular file (trash)

Relationship Matters

Enlist an accountability partner.  This could be a family member or a friend with whom you shared your goal.  You are much more likely to achieve success with this approach.  What might this mean for the ones you love?  For many people, clutter = stress and wasted time searching for important documents.  By enlisting the support of a loved one, you will likely experience more calm in your life, less anxiety and reclaim lost time spent searching for documents.  This is why it helps to envision the end state as you pursue your goal.

Regardless of your goal, think about the impact on those with whom you live, work and play.  Write down your goals.  Enlisting them in your endeavor will increase your likelihood of success.  Your personal and professional network are also great resources.  Whatever you are trying to achieve, it is likely that someone else has done it, tried it, or knows someone who can help.  Reach out to others for support and guidance.  I wish you great success in 2016 and beyond.

Juliette Mayers is the author of The Guide to Strategic Networking: Dream. Plan. Create Achieve.  Available on and on Follow: @jcmayers