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2015 – Goals? Resolutions?

January 1, 2015

2015 is now with us, and amidst all the cries of ‘Happy New Year’ are these hopes for 2015 to be ‘a good year’, a year of ‘hope and happiness’ etc. All laudable statements.

But if we want 2015 to be better than 2014 then we better do something different! Albert Einstein once said that insanity was “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”. He was right. If we do exactly as we did in 2014, then 2015 will be like 2014, which may have been like 2013 etc.

People know this. 2015 is a ‘fresh start’, a ‘clean slate’ as people say. They make resolutions and goals to change their lives.

Today I will look at whether the notion of New Year resolutions are a joke / overhyped, how to craft solid resolution and make them stick, and my resolutions and goals for the new year.

Should We Make Resolutions?

I always used to think that New Year Resolutions (NYR) were foolish. Statistics showed that many resolutions fell apart. But not just that, the very idea of waiting for a NY to come to start improving oneself seemed stupid. The right moment will never come; its always the time to be improving ourselves. Why wait for some celestial alignment of the sun and Earth to occur before we start acting? Impractical proclivities.

But I don’t agree with my old self.

It doesn’t matter if the significance of the New Year is illusionary because its an illusion that people believe in. Their perceptions of the New Year’s importance give any resolutions made greater weight. Resolutions at the New Year are thus more likely to be kept. Don’t believe me? Read economist Peter Martin’s article discussing a psychological study by the University of Scranton: [an excerpt is given below; emphasis mine]

“Here’s the evidence, assembled by United States psychologist John Norcross. In the lead-up to New Year’s Eve 1995 he and a team from the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania phoned hundreds of Americans at random and asked whether they were planning to make a specific measurable resolutions at midnight or whether they weren’t but still had measurable goals they would like to achieve.

Half a year later an impressive 46 per cent of those who had made resolutions claimed to be meeting their goals, compared to only 4 per cent of those who had not.


Conceding that self-reported success might be exaggerated, he said his findings should be seen “in a comparative context – compared to what”.

“In this case, the success rate of resolutions is approximately 10 times higher than the success rate of adults desiring to change their behaviour but not making a resolution.”

Why the astonishing discrepancy? Martin hypothesises that we aren’t perfectly rational beings (very reasonable view) and are instead torn between differing minds. Eg. Saver vs. spender, dieting vs. indulging etc. These two minds differ because our view or the value of things in the present and future differ. For instance, we might end up making significant sacrifices to avoid displeasure in the moment. (Read Martin’s article for more examples) In short, resolutions are long term tools that act to overpower the short term mind. Resolutions ‘lock in’ certain kinds of behaviour.

So why then do most people fail to meet their resolutions?

Making Solid Goals and Resolutions

Most people make a vague, non-specific, not measurable goal with no set duration. No wonder they fail. They aren’t locked into anything. Saying “I’ll become a better person” is useless without specifics. It’s an empty platitude.

Make goals SMART:






Where possible. There are some goals that aren’t quantitatively measurable. That doesn’t mean you should ignore them!

Next, write out the goals / resolutions, and put them somewhere obvious. You must be continually reminded of your resolution, as with any piece of common advice, to succeed. The reason people often fail is that their goals become swamped in a moray of daily concerns, and they forget about their resolutions. To stick to resolutions, make sure you are often thinking of them.

Final point – don’t make too many goals or resolutions! To maintain your resolve and succeed, you must remember what you are trying to achieve! Fewer goals is better here.

My Goals and Resolutions

This is my first year really trying out NYR. Yesterday, I spent a solid 20-30 minutes crafting these ideas on the bus and train. I’m working on implementation plans for some of the vaguer plans and minor goals to pursue this year, but so far:


  1. MOST IMPORTANT GOALS – Continue becoming an admirable gentleman and pursuing civic education
  2. For 1st year university obtain a distinction average
  3. Finance
    1. Save 50% of my income
    2. Max out super co-contribution
  4. Go on an overseas trips OR multiple interstate trips
  5. Be able to do 100 push-ups without stopping by year’s end; 50 by July


To always remember the follow pieces of advice and guidance, and act on them:

  1. “Do it now. The right moment will never come.”
  2. Rule create freedom
  3. Experience is the greatest teacher
    1. Purchase experiences, not things
    2. Create experiences
  4. “You always have a choice” [1]
  5. There is always time for kindness [2]
  6. Lead; light the way for others

Readers, I hope you are firmed and ready to meet your resolutions. Share your resolutions and goals in the comments.


1 – I said “you” because that is the exact quotation from a TV show and where the idea came from. By retaining the original quote, I strengthen my memory of it.

2- I also thought of “there is always time or heroism” , “there is always time to act” etc. I settled on kindness


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