Are you successfully sticking to your New Year's resolutions?

Reading time: 3 min

Numerous studies indicate that most people quickly give up on New Year's resolutions. Many give up well within a month.

Congratulations if you are persisting- you're doing better than a high majority of others and I'll continue to cheer you on.

Readiness is a significant factor in the decision to give up a resolution.

We must consider the following before we make any such commitment:

  1. Are we ready to put in the effort, consistently, and keep ourselves on track when we fall behind?

  2. Are we ready to invest the time necessary?

  3. Do we have a plan in place for how to start, continue, and persist when we struggle with the effort investment and time requirement necessary?

I certainly struggle with number 2- it's difficult to predict how much spare time we have on our hands in the future, given that our future commitments and deadlines vary.

To overcome this, I specifically plan what existing commitment to sacrifice (or stack together) to minimise the new extra time required. Or else it only digs into my free time, of which I cannot predict how much I will have at different times of the year.

What we can do ameliorate issues 1, 2 and 3 is:

  1. Minimise the effort and friction necessary

  2. As stated above, stack commitments together to become simultaneous, or really ask ourselves if our priorities truly align with this new commitment

  3. Plan exactly what we will do to start, progress, and keep ourselves on track. The more specific the plan, the easier it is to truly integrate into our lives. For example, plan exactly when and where we will execute the commitment, and with what equipment. Plan exactly what we will do when we're starting (for the first month or two), and what we're looking to do or achieve by the third month. Plan possible step-downs (temporary or permanent) for when your motivation/effort is waning or when you are genuinely lacking in time, for less action is better than no action. Write all of this down, for humans forget (and so you can't pretend it doesn't exist).

Other interesting things:

Early monetary input (a sunk cost) can be a commitment device. But seemingly only for a limited duration. See gym or self-improvement service subscription.

...Or even put to hostage to evoke human loss aversion mindset. See stickK and its 'Commitment Contracts'.

For a softer approach to New Year's Resolutions, consider "Themes" (video by CGP Grey).

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