One Resolution to Rule Them All

I’ve written earlier about how I’m not a huge fan of New Year’s Resolutions; mainly because they seem to take hold for a brief period of time before quickly fading away.  Chances are at this time of the year someone you know (ahem) may have already had some of theirs fall by the wayside.  It’s not something that can be prevented in one fell swoop for most of us because there’s always a reason they don’t stick.

I’m not going to eliminate INSERT BAD HABIT HERE, I’m just not going to do it as much.

I was too unrealistic when I said I would INSERT MASSIVE BEHAVIORAL CHANGE HERE.

I had every intention of doing INSERT MAJOR CONTRIBUTION TO SOCIETY HERE, but it just isn’t in me to do it over the long haul.

These are just a few of the “circumstances” that we find ourselves in when we stray from what we’ve resolved to do (or avoid doing) going forward.  Putting them down on paper, pledging to others that you’re going to stick to them and even neuro-linguistic programming can’t seem to stop the resolutions form, er, stopping.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

There seems to be a consistency when it comes to New Year’s Resolutions – we almost always set ourselves up for failure instead of success.  We put obstacles in our path that prevent us from sustaining these ideals and when we falter we’ve got a myriad of reasons as to why we did.  It’s as if you end up being the worst boss you could ever have because you’ve not given yourself a chance to succeed at your job – which is being the best “you” that you can be.  Why do we do this to ourselves, year in and year out?

Lofty Goals

We all want to be – and to do better at – something.  Even criminals want to improve (some want to improve at committing crimes and others want to improve by not committing as many – or any), and those with little ambition even want to set goals for how they can better use their time and energy to find ways to minimize it even further.  We fail when we try to do too much at once.

Misguided Priorities

This happens when we don’t take the time to really figure out what we should be working on.  You could be the best runner in the world but if you are late all the time then you’re not going to have the opportunity to win many races; they all seem to have a particular start time attached to them.  Work out what needs working on the most, then go from there.  But go slowly…it’s not a race.

Commit To You

What do you need to do to make you more fulfilled?  Sure, your spouse may want you to get better at folding laundry or make a concerted effort to cook dinner more often – and that’s fine.  But if you’re not committed to doing it for you (which may be the case if you value your relationship with your spouse and know it needs work), then you’re not going to stick to it.  The same goes for work.  You need to want to do it for you.  If others benefit, then that’s a plus you should celebrate.

So what’s the one true way to make sure a New Year’s Resolution sticks?

Have one.  Only one.

Sure, it’s the loneliest number – but that’s the point.  A singular focus means a singular resolve to stay on track with it.  If you decide to work on being more punctual as your only resolution, then you can be certain it can be done if you avoid the pitfalls I mentioned earlier.  There’s also a far greater ability to be more specific with the resolution (i.e. rather than “be punctual” it becomes “ensure I’m 5 minutes early to every scheduled activity from here on out”) which allows you to really track your progress.  Something measurable is always more valuable.

Once you’ve committed to the one and get really good at it, you’ll more than likely decide to resolve to do something else (or avoid doing something else) to better yourself even further.  Hold that thought – at least for three months.  That will give you enough time to firmly entrench yourself in what you’ve clearly labelled as your New Year’s resolution.  There’s certainly nothing wrong with trying to improve throughout the year, but set yourself up to succeed when it comes to big changes.  Consider fostering this singular goal as maintaining your vehicle with oil changes and regular maintenance.  You are your own vehicle for success – and failure – after all.

(Oh, and if you do take on another “enhancement project” down the line, don’t label it as a “resolution.”  Call it something else – call it a new habit or something similar.)

One thing connected to these “annual albatrosses” that we hang around our necks is that they are so heavy because of all the pressure we put on ourselves to achieve them.  Stick to the “one resolution to rule them all” philosophy and it’ll feel like you’re wearing a medal around your neck instead of that really heavy bird.

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Mike Vardy an editor on Work Awesome. We could tell you where his personal productivity parody site, Eventualism and all of his other projects reside on the web, but you'd be best served going to and following the trail of virtual bread crumbs from there.


  1. @brandscaping on the 8th January

    Brings to mind the cliche – a journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.
    Great post, too often I’m guilty of trying to change everything at once, instead of just one component at a time.

    good read – love the “annual albatrosses”


  2. Paul Letourneau on the 8th January

    Great post.
    I completely agree that keeping a focus on something major for a full year will definitely help in the long run. After all, if your doing that every year than you can change a lot of major things about you over the next 5, 10, 20, 50 years.

  3. Luis on the 23rd January

    I’d like to feature your One Resolution to Rule Them All in our employee newsletter. How do I go about getting permission? I’d post you link, ofcourse.


  4. Anne on the 27th January

    Sounds so much more realistic this way.

  5. Michael Lund (Alaska) on the 10th September

    The trick is to make a resolution about something small – something you don’t really care about. This makes it easy to keep, and boosts confidence for the next thing you want to do.

    One year, I gave up soda/pop/cola. Why? I knew it wasn’t healthy, and there were other alternatives – like water or juice. It didn’t really matter if I broke it, but then again, that made it easier to keep. I’m three years without a soda, although I do drink the occasional root beer.

    In the middle of last year, I decided to give up “store bought cookies”. A while before I gave up french fries.

    Most people can’t make a major life change without compensating for it somewhere else. Smaller changes aggregate to an overall improvement in your lifestyle.

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