New Year’s Resolutions are for Sissies

New-YearThe ball dropped and 2013 is here, and along with it the cliché of a fresh start. But being I’m Father Time, after all, I am a sucker for the perspective a new year brings.

Now the question is, what are you doing about it?

New Year’s resolutions? Are you still wearing a pager? Those are soooo 1992.

Could there be bigger time wasters? People spend a bunch of time and mental energy to come up with them, spend a bunch of time in January following them, and by March are spending a bunch of time and mental energy lamenting that they aren’t following through on them. Then spring arrives, the sun shines a little brighter, and it’s back to the old habits.

Do you want a resolution or a plan?

What we should be focusing on is a personal plan for the new year. A personal plan is more than a wimpy resolution; it’s a well thought-out roadmap to the year that helps you identify what truly are your biggest priorities. And it provides a framework to break those priorities into smaller, more manageable chunks as well as tie those priorities to bigger goals 3 and 10 years out, so they are meaningful and lasting.

Let’s compare:

  • Typical New Year’s resolution: “I resolve to lose 15 pounds.”
  • Personal plan priority: Lose 15 pounds by the end of the year.
  • Personal plan Rock #1 (plan for the next 90 days): Schedule specific, non-negotiable times on the calendar to exercise an average of 3 days per week.
  • Personal plan Rock #2: Find an exercise buddy to tag along at least once per week.
  • Personal plan 3-year picture: I’m in good enough shape to run the Twin Cities Marathon with my son.
  • Personal plan lifetime wish list: Complete a marathon with my son

See the difference? Which one do you think has a better chance of getting accomplished?

I use a personal plan template developed by Gino Wickman, the author of Traction, whose Level 10 meeting I highlighted in a blog last year. It is in a simple, one page format, and when you write it out and your mind sees it, it is much more likely to happen. And as Gino says, scientific studies now show that when you physically write something, your brain engages and internalizes it more (see Brain Rules by John Medina, 2008).

The plan consists of the following sections:

Vision – A big picture view of yourself to guide you to what you hold dear and what is most important

  • Core values – You need to first reflect on what you value most, as that will guide you to set goals and priorities that are truly meaningful (and thus will actually get completed). So often this step is overlooked when setting things like New Year’s resolutions.
  • Passions – What do you truly love to do? You are far more likely to spend time pursuing passions by trying to “fix” something you don’t naturally enjoy
  • 10-year target – A really big goal you’d like to accomplish in 10 years
  • Lifetime wish list – Your “bucket list”
  • 3-year picture – A brief exercise to paint yourself a picture of what you want your life to look like in 3 years

Traction – Your 1-year view to achieve your vision

  • 1-year plan: Your goals for the year
  • Rocks: Your top priorities for the next 90 days that usually tie directly to achieving your yearly goals
  • Issues list: A place to put down in writing all the things you want to do or know you need to work on but didn’t make the cut as the top goals for the year. This section is liberating because you at least feel like you have a place to put these things so they won’t be overlooked or forgotten.

You can use this framework at work as well as at home, and it is an invaluable exercise to go through each year.

If you want to have a fulfilling 2013 and save lots of time, email me at with the secret password NOT A SISSY in the subject line and I’ll send you a free personal plan template.

Chris Wills About Chris Wills

Father Time, or Chris Wills, is passionate about helping other leaders learn and grow and free up time they didn’t think they had. He is the Founder of Student Paths, an organization that better prepares students for their future in college, career and life readiness. You can reach Chris at:

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