Making resolutions stick

In the past, I have avoided New Years resolutions becuase I perfered to have smaller goals throughout the year. Plus, there is plenty of evidence that creating resolutions around the holidays doesn’t work. Not only did I make a list of resolutions/goals last year, but I came up with a system to remember them and follow through.

Start with a list

I started by brainstorming a list of things that I could improve on. If you can’t come up with at least a page of things you want to improve (work and home combined) then you aren’t thinking hard enough. Once I had a list, I went through and highlighted three to five goals that I wanted to focus on for the year. This doesn’t mean that you can’t improve in other areas or have other goals, but there is only so much that you can focus on throughout the entire year.


A key to following through on my goals was remembering them. To do this, I made a mantra that I repeated throughout the year. I distiled the goals into two-words statements and pieced them together. This is what I got:

Stand up
Look up
Look around
Walk around

Pretty simple. To anyone else this might not mean much, but it repersents more to me:

Stand up: This goal has two parts, posture and activity. I know that my posture needs work, but without a daily reminder, it’s difficult to change. Being in the technology field, I sit at my desk all day. I have a standing desk, but I don’t use it as much as I should, so part two of this goal is to stand up at my desk more.

Look up: Have you ever walked out of a room and, instinctively, pulled out your phone even though you had no reason to? Our phones have changed the way we live, but we can change it back. This goal focuses on resisting the urge to look at your phone in the hallway or when around other people.

Look around: I am fortunate to live and work in a beautiful part of the world: midcoast Maine. I have ocean views at both home and work, but I don’t appreciate nearly enough. Next week we are moving out of the ocean-front cottage that we have called home for the last three years, so I am now particularly glad that I looked around a bit more in 2018!

Walk around: Get outside and walk (i.e. excercise). This is an easier version of “go the the gym more”.

Putting my goals into a mantra helped me remember them. Remembering them helped keep my accountable.

Did it work?

While I still have work to do on all of my goals, just remembering them, repeating my mantra, as I walk down the hall at work in December proves that it was successful. I just wrote my page-long list for 2019 and am in the process of selecting new goals and putting them into an easy-to-remember mantra. This system certainly helped me and I hope that it helps you too!

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