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80 Percent Of Resolutions Always Fail (But You Can Fix That!)

80 Percent of Resolutions Always Fail (But You Can Fix That!)

Have you been actively working your resolutions lately? Are they top of mind? Or, have your resolutions failed? Would you be surprised to learn that a majority of resolutions fail often?

In a season of change, in a year of change, most people who embark on a journey of self-renewal can expect anything but. Research shows that about 80 percent of people who make resolutions on Jan. 1 fall off the wagon by Valentine’s Day.”
[Source: The New York Times ~ New Year, New You? Nice Try]

So, here we are. February has come to a close and if that stat holds true, most of us have already given up. Even if that is true, it helps to figure out the reasons why so we can actually do something about it and put resolutions in their proper place — front and center in our minds and actions.

Why Resolutions Fail

Resolutions fail because change is hard. We’ve probably spent a good number of years cultivating some not-so-good habits. Changing those well-practiced behaviors takes time. There are no overnight success stories. Okay, well, maybe there are a few but for most of us, change takes effort, time, commitment, determination, and probably a whole lot of positive self-talk.

But, there’s another reason why our resolutions fail. They fail because they’re usually not well thought out. Resolutions IMHO are a waste of time for three main reasons:

  1. They are often too broad
  2. There’s no success plan or map
  3. They’re often unrealistic

Here’s a quick example — Is it really possible to become a lean, mean productivity machine in one month — especially when you’ve spent many months or years doing just the opposite? Probably not.

For most of us, it’s just not realistic to make meaningful and sustainable change in 30 days especially if there’s no clear path to success. And, what exactly does “lean, mean productivity machine” mean? It’s a good goal gone bad because it isn’t specific enough, fails the reality check, and doesn’t include micro-goals.

Save this post to your “Productivity” or “Goals” board

80% of Resolutions Fail But You Can Fix That!

Alright, so the facts are what they are. We fall off the wagon more often than not and we put that on repeat every year. In short, our resolutions fail spectacularly. But, we can give ourselves a fighting chance just by changing our mindset a bit and making a few tweaks.

Whether you want to improve your own productivity or the productivity of your team, to start and end meetings on time, cull paper clutter pile-ups in your office, or some other goal, there are a few simple adjustments you can make right now to get — and stay  — on the right track and actually reach that goal you’ve been aiming for.

You can:

Be a realistic goal-getter

Instead of making large, lofty resolutions, focus on specific goals. For example, “getting rid of paper clutter” might sound a bit daunting — especially if you think about all the piles of paper you might have in various places. So, set a goal to reduce the paper influx in one room, say a well-trafficked space in your office.

Doesn’t that feel better or at the very least seem just a little easier to manage? Instead of tackling your entire office, simply pick one area to start with.  And, as you think about all the things you want to adjust (go ahead and do a brain dump), get as specific as you can and break your goal into smaller tasks or micro-goals.

Remember to be reasonable with yourself and think about how much time you (and your team) can realistically spend focusing on your new, shared goals.

To help you be a realistic goal-getter, you should be …

Be C.L.E.A.R. or S.M.A.R.T

The C.L.E.A.R. and S.M.A.R.T. action methods give you a solid framework for how you can manage and achieve your goals and stop your resolutions from failing. Because they’re easy to remember (as most acronyms are), they can propel you toward reaching specific milestones.

The C.L.E.A.R. method can be a game changer for teams. C.L.E.A.R. goals are:

  • Collaborative (team members work together)
  • Limited (in both scope and length)
  • Emotional (connected to employees’ passion and energy)
  • Appreciable (broken down into smaller, more manageable steps)
  • Refinable (clear but flexible based on changing scenarios)

The S.M.A.R.T. method can be used by individuals and groups. S.M.A.R.T. goals are:

  • Specific (clear, simple, and unambiguous)
  • Measurable (results can be tracked)
  • Attainable (realistic and achievable)
  • Relevant (meaningful, connected to company purpose and/or vision)
  • Time-bound (designated starting and ending timeframes)

Depending on your situation, you might be able to use both methods. Just keep in mind that no matter which one you choose, be sure that everyone on your team (even your virtual mates) use it. Otherwise, things might become messy, unorganized, and unproductive pretty quickly.

Save this post to your “Productivity” or “Goals” board

Picking resolutions? Easy. Sticking with them. Not so much. [Fox & Friends First]

Create a success map

Another helpful way to stop your resolutions from failing is to figure out your end result even before you start working on your goals. What will success look like? How will you know when you’ve achieved certain milestones?

If getting rid of paper clutter is your goal, will all paper piles be banished forever never to return again? Or, will you have a particular process for collecting paper and organizing and digitizing it so that it doesn’t consume your workspace?

Be S.M.A.R.T. and pick the latter! Take a minute to map out the steps you need to take to achieve your goal. Of course, there are decisions to be made:

  • What will you do with incoming paper?
  • Where will they live until you can sift through, sort, digitize, and organize them?
  • Will you apply this process to older documents or just to new ones?
  • When and how much time will you need to work on organizing your documents?

Once you’ve nailed down your process, a flow chart or a written list of action steps can be a nice visual reminder of the things you need to do. Trust me, you’ll find this very helpful especially when you’re starting a new routine and for those days when things are a little more chaotic than usual.

paper organizing|

A flow chart or a list of steps can help you stay on track!

Enlist some tech help

So, you wouldn’t be surprised if I suggested that you use technology to keep your resolutions from failing, would you? I suspect not. LOL There are actually many instances when a gadget or an app just fits the bill.

Let’s go back to my paper clutter example. If you plan to kick paper clutter to the curb, you’ll need a heavy-duty shredder and a scanner — and probably a mobile scanning app (like Scannable or Adobe Scan) for when you or your team members are out and about and need to digitize receipts, business cards, or other documents.

 Learn about two more apps that can help you build good habits and achieve your goals!

Honestly, no matter what you’re hoping to achieve, there probably is an app that can help.

  • How about organizing and storing your business docsEvernote (affiliate link), Dropbox, and Google Drive can come in handy.
  • Gotta get your social media posts created and in order? WordSwagBuffer, and Planoly are here for you!
  • Need an easy way to schedule meetingsDoodle (affiliate link) and Calendly are two excellent choices. How about doing a virtual face-to-face with your clients or team members? Google Hangouts (GSuite affiliate link),, and Zoom can help.

See what I mean? There’s a vast array of apps that can be the glue that holds your workflows and business processes together. Have questions or not sure where to start? Just drop me a line or comment below.

Alright, so that might be a lot to process all at once. Bookmark this post and come back to it later just to soak it all in AND choose your starting point. This year, don’t let your resolutions fail. Start small and create micro-goals, focus on a specific set of actions, be realistic and reasonable with yourself, use a system to help you stay on track, and let technology help with some of the heavy lifting.

Save this post to your “Productivity” or “Goals” board

*Note: I was recently gifted Timeluar and am currently testing it out … not for meetings, though. More to come! Also, this post contains affiliate links. What does that mean? If you click on any of those links and make a purchase, I will get a small commission that will likely feed my growing coffee addiction! ☕

Deb Lee

Hey there, I’m Deb. I’m a Digital Productivity Coach, Certified Professional Organizer®, speaker, and lover of all things tech. I’m also addicted to apps and love helping small business owners leverage technology so they can be more productive.

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