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Day 20:  Do You Know Where Your Resolution Is?

[fa icon="calendar"] 1/6/16 1:18 PM / by Deb Cullerton


I've seen a multitude of blogs and articles citing this statistic “the average duration of a New Year’s resolution is 19 days.”  The gist of most of these articles is that we should take the stat as a sign that resolutions are a waste of our time.  I disagree.  I think if you make a list of the most successful people you know and compared them to everyone else, you would find one critical difference.  Follow-through.

We all have great ideas.  We all have things that get us excited and make us feel a passion that we don't feel about other topics.  But most of us stop short for a handful of key reasons:

  • We lack confidence.
  • We fear failure. 
  • We get overwhelmed. 
  • We lack focus.
  • We are shooting for balance.
  • We feel incompetent.

So what's the answer?

Mastering the Art of Follow-through

Step 1: By all means, create the resolution.  In the business world, we call it the objective.  It's that high-level, mission driven
 statement.  "Get healthy", "get a degree" or "start my own business" might be your resolution.

Step 2: Now craft a handful of goals that will be necessary to achieve the objective.  If the objective was to get healthy, your goals might be "lose weight" and "improve eating habits."

Step 3: SMARTen those goals up with this handy acronym, and ensure that your goal is:




   Relevant (to the goal)


.Ex.  Lose 2 lbs. per week until goal weight is achieved on May 1st.     

Now that the goals have been established successfully, the real question is how do we ensure follow-through?  After watching and coaching thousands of people who are trying to change their daily habits, I believe I have some of the answers:

  • Know the enemies of follow-through.
  • Use your systems.
  • Get help.

This is a big topic and I'll be blogging about each of the enemies along with strategies to combat them as the year progresses. 

Enemy #1:  Motivation for the goal, but not for the activities that help you achieve the goal. 

No matter how motivated you are to achieve the goal, if you have no motivation for the actual steps it takes to achieve it, you will fail.  

Establish rewards for activities, not goal achievement.Time-Plan-2698916.jpg

I'm working on a goal of exercising more regularly this year and my motivation is high to lose weight and improve my health right now.  But that's useless without specific motivation to get up and get moving every day.  We are reward-seeking individuals and it's important to incorporate rewards into our activities if we want to stay activity-motivated.  For example, I love spending time in book stores and libraries, so twice a week I'm taking a nice hike conveniently close to a bookstore I like.  So, I do the hike and then reward myself with bookstore time. 

Use pre-applied pressure.

At work, I use pre-applied pressure to create some motivation.  For example, if I'm dragging my feet on a project, I might commit to a team review of the progress when I'm feeling strong.  Then later, I have the deadline pressure to motivate me even when I don't feel like working on it.

Enemy #2:  Not feeling competent at the activity.

It's often hard to admit (even to ourselves) that we don't feel good doing it because we're not good at it.  

Honestly assess your competence with the necessary activity.

A good friend got motivated to start attending the gym and work on his body a few months ago.  He's still going, but struggled a lot in the beginning with his motivation.  It took him a while to understand that feeling inferior around more experienced gym members was the primary cause of his lower motivation.  He felt silly at times, not knowing if he was using the equipment right or if his form was correct.  He combated the problem with a few sessions from a trainer and by spending time each week on a plan to follow.  It gives him more purpose and more confidence, so his motivation is stronger. 

Become an expert.  Own it.yay-4262379.jpg

If not feeling competent is the enemy, then commit to fixing that.  I work with many people who want to improve their productivity at work, but they do not really understand their email system (like Outlook) and that stops them from implementing the tips and tricks for managing email more effectively.  Once we build their confidence that they won't "blow it up" or "lose everything", mastering the process and technology is a piece of cake and achieving their productivity goals become highly attainable.


On our team, we call it "deep diving" which we define as digging in and mastering a piece of software or diving into a subject we feel is necessary to achieve a bigger goal.  I recently read a book on nutrition (part of my personal goal deep dive) and joined a healthy eating meetup in my area. 

Deep dive ideas include: 

  • Magazines and books on the topic
  • LinkedIn groups
  • Meetups focused on your topic of choice
  • A night of random web-surfing on the topic

If you've been foiled by not following through in the past, let this be the year that you teach yourself how to beat those demons.  And let's make January 20th a day of celebration when you look up and realize you're still highly motivated and moving forward on your New Year's resolution!


Topics: Productivity for All

Deb Cullerton

Written by Deb Cullerton

Managing Partner at PMA and passionate about developing leaders