Heidi Isern

writer. thinker. whiskey drinker.

How to Stick to that New Year’s Resolution

According to the Opinion Research Corporation of Princeton, New Jersey, only 8% of people are always successful adhering to their New Year’s Resolutions. Daunting, yes, but with clever planning you may have a higher chance of making it…

168/365 Bringing in the new yearphoto © 2009 stuartpilbrow | more info (via: Wylio)The holiday craze has finally ended.  New Year’s Resolutions that once gleamed brightly on our pedestals are now relegated to the back room, starting to collect cobwebs. Winter wears on and life’s ol’ hamster wheel speeds up, keeping our legs racing to keep up.  In our rush, resolutions, plans and all of those good intentions fall by the wayside.

Ok. We are only a month in. Stop the wheel. Breathe. Recheck.


Transforming is challenging even for the best chameleon. Sticking to a life change can be as demanding as marriage; it requires patience, dedication, and faith in the benefits.    In efforts to help us all become chameleons I collected a list of friends’ resolutions and provided a few guides for sticking to them.

Top Resolutions for 2011 include:

  • Consume less alcohol (i.e. not pass out every Saturday)
  • Improve relationships with parents (i.e. stop telling them they are senile)
  • Lose weight (i.e. stop the 2am burrito runs)
  • Change job (i.e. get out of corporate hell for an engaging start-up)
  • Secure funding for start-up (i.e. find $2-$7million, no chump change in this town)
  • Write a book (i.e. write a book.  This one is mine)
  • Fall in love (uh, right….I’ll see if I can drug Cupid….)

Okay, now for the hard part-How do we make them happen?  I can’t control VCs or Cupid but I can help us help ourselves.

Resolution Guides for 2011:

  1. Set small, measurable goals.  On Dec 31st my friends and I discussed our resolutions.  In many cases it would be impossible to know if we were successful or not.  My friend that wanted to be nicer to her parents decided that this meant listening attentively on the phone, keeping up with weekly dinners, and receiving positive “good daughter” feedback. Many times it is important to set small goals to secure larger ones.  More than five people have told me that they want to lose ten pounds.  Ok, great-join the rest of overweight America.  A ten pound reduction not going to happen overnight unless you cut off your left arm.  Ten pounds by when?  What are the steps to getting there?  Will you replace your daily cheese sandwich with a salad?  Torture yourself in a morning boot camp class?  Give up carbs except for Saturday? Larger goals require a plan that you can measure against every day.  For my goal of writing a book, I hope to finish a chapter a week which means writing every evening.
  2. Hang out with the right people. I have always mandated that we are what we eat and we are who we surround ourselves with.  I know we all like to think we are unique, independent creatures but unless we live as hermits in a mountain cave, peers shape our lifestyle, our habits and quite frankly a lot of who we are.  My friend that wishes to drink less shouldn’t continue to hang out with the Irish bar regulars (or me for that matter), but rather seek out new friends like aesthetic yogis that replace hard stuff with sunset meditation.  The person that desires love should perhaps stop meditating and seek out an Irish bar. To encourage moving beyond our flawed past, the Kabbalah states “If you are struck down by a mortal illness, you should change your town and change your name.” You don’t have to leave town but you do need to create a new environment.  For me, it may even be switching the coffee shop I write at.  The Mission cafés filled with tattooed musicians and black nailed artists may inspire me more than my Pacific Heights spots where suited consultants create PowerPoint decks.  As a prior suited consultant, I am in need of a change of scenery.
  3. Stop comparing. Much research on happiness suggests that happiness is fundamentally tied to how we see ourselves in relation to our social circle.  If we make $10 an hour but everyone else makes $8, we are happy, even if we are eating a can of beans every night and getting gas.  However, if we make $200 an hour while our peers make $300, we complain and feel dissatisfied that our Mercedes isn’t the deluxe package model like the neighbors have.  Comparing will set you off track.  Remember that your goals are personal to you. Some people need to GAIN ten pounds and others, in my humble opinion, would be better off if they drank far more instead of less.  Spare yourself from thinking about whatever everyone else is doing.  I mentioned that I originally had a goal to write a chapter a week.  However, everyone else’s goals always seem far more exciting.  I am enamored by my entrepreneur friends that are hoping to secure $5 million in funding for their new ventures.  Their lofty goals make my nightly plan of matching nouns to adjectives seem trite. While my start-up pals are off at tech parties, wooing VCs and PR bunnies, I sit at home at my desk, begging words to give me a little affection.  I long to jump on the entrepreneur bandwagon, have more fun and make more money….but then I would lose part of my heart.

Accomplishing our resolution brings immeasurable rewards, including pride and joy.  To get there we must stay true to our path in small dedicated steps and not get distracted by other forks luring us in different directions.  Remember, this is the blog of The Untaken Road. I encourage you to do something inspiring with your life.  Every day.

“I think in terms of the day’s resolutions, not the years’…”

-Henry Moore

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