Want to Keep a Resolution? Find Out the Secret!

January 5th, 2015

Ahhh….the New Year’s Resolution. To succeed or not to succeed.


According to one source, the top 10 resolutions for 2012 were:

  1. Stop Smoking
  2. Get into a Habit of being Fit
  3. Lose Weight – the Battle of the Bulge
  4. Enjoy Life More.
  5. Quit Drinking
  6. Organise Yourself – this is one of the keys to reaching your goals
  7. Learn Something New
  8. Get out of Debt
  9. Spend More Time With Family
  10. Help People.

But, what were the top 10 resolutions for 2015?  Surprise!  Basically, the same as the 2012 list.  Hey, we may not have achieved it in 2012, but we’ll get ‘er done in 2015.  Yeah, right.

There’s a secret to success, and I have it.

Let’s look at three questions:

  1.  Why will most people fail in achieving their well-intentioned resolutions?
  2. How can we increase the odds of being successful in fulfilling our commitments to ourselves and others?
  3. What is the secret that guarantees our success?


1. Why will most people fail in achieving their well-intentioned resolutions?

Did you know about 40 to 45 percent of American adults will set at least one resolution this New Year?

The upside? Commitment to improving oneself and positively influencing others is always a worthy endeavor. The downside? Four out of five of the people who make those New Year’s Resolution will fail. In fact, according to one writer who looked to the Franklin Covey time management firm, a third won’t even make it to the end of January.

The culprit is:  change.

Change is threat to the brain – even good change. Remember, our brain works really hard to keep things the same. This amazing ability is called homeostasis. Homeostasis is a treasured friend in that it helps regulate our body temperature, blood pressure, helps maintain stress levels, and so forth. However, homeostasis is our mortal enemy at times when we set out to accomplish big changes.

Change, and its direct affiliation with threat, is an important lesson for us to learn as we venture out to change ourselves or tackle change-management projects that involve others.



2. So, how can we increase the odds of being successful in fulfilling our commitments to ourselves and others?

According to Linda and Richard Eyre, whose figures align with those of others, we need to remember these numbers: 16, 26, 50, 65, and 95.

16% chance of success
when we hear an idea and like it.

You may like the idea of stopping smoking, getting fit, or losing weight. So, you have a 16% chance of success and an 84% chance of failing. So, let’s look at ways to increase the chances for success.

A personal example is the idea of running. Several years ago, always an avid walker, I began to like the idea of running. I was excited about the possibility of being able to run one lap around the track, and was enthralled by those who could actually compete in 5Ks, 10Ks, and marathons. I really liked the idea.


26% chance of success
when we consciously decide to adopt the idea.

This is a significant step because it means change happens first in your brain, in your thought life.

The thoughts you have today will be the life you live tomorrow.

Our thoughts matter, and all change begins or ends in that 3 ½ pound universe housed between our ears.


50% chance of success
when we decide when we will do it and how we will do it.

We have to have a concrete plan, a plan that is specific and can be measured each day or week.

So, back to my interest in running. I consciously decided to adopt the idea and then I found an amazing app called C25K . The app promoters acknowledge most people get turned off by running because they get overwhelmed, start too fast, tackle too much at once and experience injuries. By beginning running a few minutes each week, this app promises to move people from the couch to being prepared for a 5K in just two months.


65% chance of success
when we commit to someone else that we will do it.

Perhaps the scariest step in following through with anything is telling someone else. But that’s exactly what we should do – visualize it and voice it, particularly to people who will encourage us.

Like our thoughts, our words matter.

Proverbs 18:21 tells us that life and death are in the power of the tongue. Why not start using this change agent to bring us life?

Start talking about your commitment to others.


95% chance of success
when we have a specific appointment with someone at which time we must report whether or not we’ve been true to our commitments.


3. What is the secret of that guarantees our success?

So, the secret to success lies in accountability. To yourself and to someone else.


Accountability literally makes the difference between success and failure.

On July 4th 2010, I ran my first 5K. The app was great, but what really ensured success? My sister who drove up to my house every morning around 6:30am ready to run. I was accountable to her to step out of my garage with running shoes on – in rain, sleet, snow, or Texas heat. In 2015, I’ll run my first half.

Find someone who will faithfully hold you accountable.


Join in the conversation:

  • In what ways has the secret weapon of accountability helped you achieve an important resolution or goal?
  • Who holds you accountable?

The Brain-Based Bottom Line

Keeping resolutions requires change. Change implies threat.  The secret to overcoming the threat of change is accountability to yourself and to someone else.  To increase the odds of successfully implementing change by increasing accountability to yourself and others:

  • Like the idea (running could be fun)
  • Consciously adopt the idea (my thoughts about running are going to be positive, and I can visualize myself crossing the finish line)
  • Decide when and where (develop a specific, measurable plan)
  • Commit to someone else (tell others about your plan and desire to run)
  • Have an accountability partner who will hold your feet to the fire (have a partner to meet with you regularly to ensure you’re staying on your plan)

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