Resolutions That Last

I had not intended to write a blog about New Year’s resolutions since, personally, I am not a big fan of them. Please don’t misunderstand me, I am definitely an advocate of setting intentional goals and continuous self-development, I just don’t believe in a specific time of year to do this. However, as the GAIA Insights team was researching material for our January newsletter, we discovered a number of interesting resources that deserve to be shared.

For example, this article published by states that people worldwide make New Year’s resolutions in an attempt to improve their lives. Common resolutions include to exercise more, eat healthier, save money, lose weight and reduce stress. Yet, only 4% of people report following through on all of the resolutions they personally set. As a root cause for so many abandoned New Year’s resolutions, the article suggests that many people do not frame their resolutions in ways that will motivate them over time, which leads to “unintentional neglect of important self-improvement goals”.

According to the article, a potential solution is encouraging people to reframe their resolutions to emphasize purpose-based performance, which has three critical, interrelated components: goal orientation, personal meaning and focus on something or someone beyond the self. The following three questions can guide you to develop New Year’s resolutions to inspire purpose-based performance:

  • What are my longer-term goals?
  • Why is this personally important?
  • Who will be positively affected by this?

A similar approach is recommended in this blog by Simon Mainwaring, who considers the New Year an ideal time for taking stock of where you are in your life and how that aligns (or misaligns) with your purpose in life: “Doing so gives you the clarity you need to start the new year with a sense of focus and direction which you can bring to any resolutions you may be making or when it comes time to implement those resolutions.”

Simon Mainwaring recommends three ways to gain clarity around your personal purpose statement:

  • Purpose is your life compass, or your North Star, to guide all future goal setting.
    Define your personal purpose statement to establish a solid foundation from which to then deduct your most important resolutions.
  • Purpose informs your personal and professional life.
    Pause and reflect on if you are indeed living and working how you need to be in order to achieve positive self-realization.
  • Purpose brings out your best self.
    Use the clear definition of your personal purpose as a lens through which to make decisions — what to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to — on a daily basis.

Now, here is the thing: Even if we KNOW what we could do to change things for the better, many of us still struggle to actually DO it! And that’s where this 11-minute video interview with Mel Robbins can serve as an eye opener. She reveals a simple (albeit not easy!) brain hack: True change comes down to 5-second windows. She explains that, when your inner wisdom and/or intuition tells you to make a change, to take some form of action (i.e. you have an intention to implement a New Year’s resolution), it takes 5 seconds before your mind will talk you out of it.

In these moments, Mel Robbins suggests to simply count back 5-4-3-2-1 to shut your mind off and then DO IT – whatever “it” might be. If you wait until you “feel like doing it”, you might as well give up right away, because our brains are wired to protect ourselves from anything that is potentially risky or threatening, like change, uncertainty or new habits can be perceived by our nervous system. It is okay not to “feel like it” as long as you do it anyway! As Mel says: “Your feelings are not a choice. Your behavior and your thoughts are always a choice.”

In other words, putting purpose into your New Year’s resolutions can bring meaning and results. Combine it with this brain hack and increase your chances of success!


Authored by Martina Mangelsdorf, Chief Strategic Dreamer at GAIA Insights