Why Making Micro-Resolutions May Be The Solution To Your New Year’s Resolution Woes

Updated: Dec 31, 2019


I came across this quote from author Vern McLellan, "What the new year brings to you depends a great deal on what you bring to the new year."

While drawing parallels to JFK's historic words, "Ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for the country," it also reminded me that being intentional and taking action is really the key to achieving what we want.

You might say that's easier said than done, and you'll be right because it is. How many times do we enthusiastically set New Year's resolutions to only fail before starting and quitting, or worse, never even starting?? And we would not be the only ones.

A study conducted by researchers at the University of Scranton found that 23% of people quit their resolution after just one week. And only 19% of individuals are able to stick to their goals long term. So, should we just stop making resolutions? Well, depends if you are ready to make a change or not. If you are, instead of making these big, overwhelming resolutions that are inherently set up to fail, make mini-or micro-resolutions.


Why Micro-resolutions Work


Micro-resolution may sound like another buzz phrase but stay with me. Often, when we set large, ambitious goals, we’re excited, probably on a high from all that New Year’s Eve champagne! Then reality sets in. We realize we didn’t ever want to give up meat or alcohol or go to the gym every day in the first place. In other words, we didn’t really want to do this.


Secondly, there’s a lack of planning. If we resolve to eat healthier and when those hunger pangs set it, what do we do? Make a beeline for the refrigerator or pantry where the leftover pizza, pastries, and cookies are calling out your name, ever so sweetly. So, you respond right back by consuming them. Goodbye, resolution! We didn’t plan adequately by getting healthy snacks or cooking at home.


Lastly, where’s the accountability? Many of us (me included!) find it easy to break promises to ourselves! We go to lengths to make others happy but when it comes to ourselves…meh, not important! Instead, if we create a mini- or micro-resolution, which is any behavior you commit to for a short term - say four weeks. And even longer-term goals to, say, eat better or learn a new skill, can be broken down into more achievable goals on the way.


How do you set micro-resolutions?


The key to achieving micro-resolutions is to set SMART goals. SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound.


Create small achievable steps that enable you to focus your time, energy and resources most effectively.

Instead of saying I’ll start going to the gym every day in 2020, start by saying for the next 2 weeks, I’ll plan an hour of physical activity at least once a week. Easy right? If you successfully do this, up the ante…now incorporate this activity two times for the next two weeks, then three times and so on.


For micro-resolutions to work, you need to do three things:


  1. Take small, simple actions for the short-term: Make sure each step checks all the aspects of SMART. Baby steps will get you far. Small doses in the short-term is a good way to start.

  2. Remind yourself of the why? You’re doing this to be healthier, or spend more time with family or reduce your stress – whatever your reason for this change, reminding yourself constantly will act as a motivator. I like to set visual reminders as well – images on my phone, post-it reminders, etc.

  3. Find ways to be accountable: How will you police yourself? Can you trust yourself to keep you honest or do you need a buddy who will do that job for you? It doesn’t matter who keeps you accountable but build in this step to make your micro-resolution work.

So no matter what 2020 brings to you, what I want to know – and what you should be thinking – is what can I bring to 2020? Whatever it is you decide to bring to the New Year, I wish you success and resolve to stay true to your micro-resolutions!


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