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Resolutions: What Works, What Doesn’t // by Deirdre Danahar

Root in “Why.” If you cannot answer, “Why I am I doing this?” in personal terms, you’ll struggle to stay focused. If you want to lose weight, your motivation will be stronger if it is to be able to keep up with your kids rather than because your doctor told you to do so. Your internal motivation is more powerful and lasting then an external one. Less is More When it Comes to “What.” The shorter your list of resolutions, the more likely you will be able to achieve everything on it. A resolution means you want to start doing something. That will take extra attention and resources. Don’t spread yourself thin. Three to five resolutions are enough.


Make Your “What” a Non-negotiable Project. A project is an endeavor that, by definition, unfolds over time. You can always make progress on a project, and you can adjust it over the year as needed.



once loved resolutions. Not now. Resolutions are a declaration of your end goals: get in shape, learn Spanish, find a new job. Declaring something is the start of making it real, but does not actually make it real. The root of resolution is a verb, resolve. It requires action. Most people are giving too little thought to what is driving them to want a resolution to be true, and what it will take to make their resolutions a reality. Here’s what I know works to back up your declarations with action and increase your level of success.

Focus on Habits to Grow. The habits you develop are what make your resolutions become real or not. What habits would you need to develop or use to be able to keep up with your kid, land a new job, or learn to make pasta? Unleash Your Strengths. You have a unique collection of innate traits, plus experiences and skills you developed overtime. Take time to inventory and draw on your best traits, most rich experiences and robust skills. These point to and support habits you want to grow. Be Patient. Habits take time. At least 21 tries are needed for a habit begin to take shape. Your brain needs to create a clear, deep and strong path to a new habit, in order to supersede previous habits. Be patient with yourself.

Deirdre Danahar wants folks to rethink the way they make resolutions.

Hooray for Failure. Developing a habit virtually guarantees that you’ll fail at some point. Most likely that will not be a catastrophe. Just pause, and view it as an opportunity to recalibrate and ask, “What is useful for me to take from this?” Then go back to your root “why” and keep nurturing your habits.

Fertilize, Prune and Weed. Set a quarterly check-in time on your calendar to review your resolutions, the progress you made to date, what you have learned and tweak as needed. This helps you stay motivated and increases your chance of success.

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