setting resolutions in an achievable way

Resolutions are fairly finicky. Perhaps better put: we are fairly finicky about resolutions. It’s certainly understandable, as there’s an underlying assumption that they simply don’t work. 

According to Forbes, over 40% of us make at least one resolution, yet only 8% of those 40%+ keep those commitments until the end of the calendar year. Typically, too, our resolutions are quite boring and rote; they’re seemingly, annually the same…  I commit to losing weight… eating healthier… getting organized… saving more… exercising… and spending more time with family and friends…

Resolutions take time. Time takes work. And work is hard. Hence, resolutions often don’t work — which serves as the basis for the iconic idiom that resolutions are “in one year and out the other.”

So let’s reframe the concept of setting resolutions; let’s reframe it in a way that sounds immediately more achievable. Isn’t that significant? If in the back of my head I question whether or not I can actually accomplish the set goal, when the work gets hard, so will be my ability to drum up the necessary motivation. 

Goals need to be SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound. We can’t make commitments to extreme makeovers and then expect them to happen overnight.

So assisting with the desire for our goals to be achievable — continuing good practices or ebbing undesired behavior — let’s reframe the concept. Instead of setting resolutions, let’s ask a question: what would you most like to change about yourself in the year ahead? 

At the end of 2021, what area of your life would you be most disappointed in if you made no progress?

What would you most like to change?

Here are 15 goals that would be wise to set in 2021. They aren’t as measurable as I’d like, but they are specific, achievable, and poignantly relevant:

  • Be kinder on social media.
  • Limit Twitter.
  • Turn off the TV.
  • Resist the tribal mentality.
  • Investigate instead of promote conspiracy.
  • Leave your comfort zone.
  • Listen to and consider diverse opinion.
  • Pray more.
  • Pray for our President.
  • Love your neighbor better.
  • Expand who qualifies as your neighbor.
  • See good in more than one party.
  • Be a wise steward of the environment.
  • Participate in mask/vaccine dialogues as opposed to debates.
  • Find ways to be grateful in a pandemic.

Great goals, no doubt. No doubt we would benefit individually, in our communities, and in our country if these were practiced better and more. But wait; we need one more, vital reframe.

A resolution — or a change, if you will — is not something we set for anyone other than self. I cannot decide or determine how “you” need to change. You cannot do so for me. Or for another. We are not even capable of that. Hear that word: capable.

All of the above are great resolutions — great changes — decided by me, for me. Others can encourage, but they cannot set. We set for self. That way, our realistic goals are achievable.

And so I ask once more, taking advantage of this fresh slate which is often referred to as the New Year…

What would you most like to change?


At the end of 2021, what area of your life would you be most disappointed in if you made no progress?

We have that opportunity starting now.