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Small Steps to Success


It’s the start of a New Year. If you’re like most people, you are gung-ho to accomplish something this year.

If you’re like most people, that gung-ho-ness starts to wane. That’s why gym memberships sell out at the holidays, the gyms are packed in January, and then the regulars heave a sigh of relief when all the resolution-setters give up. Life sets in and you don’t have a plan to stay on track.

Resolution realities

According to the Marist Poll, of those who make a resolution for 2017, 68% said they kept at least part of their promise. And 44% of Americans are likely to make promises to themselves again for 2018. If you are a resolution maker, you want to keep up the tradition, it seems.

Last year, being a better person (16%) was followed by losing weight and exercising more (both at 10%). Seven percent resolved to spend less money, improve their health, or eat healthier. Forty-three percent mentioned another resolution.

The survey asked respondents about their 2018 resolutions. Among the American surveyed, being a better person and losing weight both came in at 12%. Exercising more, eating healthier, and getting a better job each were 9%.  Seven percent want to improve their overall health. Six percent want to kick the smoking habit, and 6%  plan to spend less and save more money. Thirty percent mentioned a different resolution.

What’s the problem?

While 68% kept part of the promise, not everyone did. And technically if you only kept part of the promise, you didn’t keep it. But, it’s not about keeping score. Why, is the question. Here are some tips to help you succeed.

  • Be specific about your goals. While the survey used “be a better person” and “lose weight” in the survey, you won’t succeed if you aren’t more specific. You need to define your goals in better terms. For example, lose 10 pounds by x date by doing y. You know, the old SMART goal technique.


  • Create a plan to accomplish the goal. This is about developing new habits. If you want to lose those 10 pounds, then you need to create a habit of exercising 30 minutes a day, for example. Or if you want to write the book, you need to create a habit of writing 30 minutes every morning at 9 am.


  • Remember slow and steady wins the race. It’s about taking small steps towards success every day.


  • Be kind to yourself. It’s important to believe you can succeed at this resolution/goal. If you have a setback, just start again.


  • Find support. Social support can make a difference. Find a friend who will keep you accountable. That can be an online or offline friend. If you are a member of a group, such as the ICAP Members’ Studio, you’ll be able to find someone who is committed to helping you.


  • Track your progress. I remember that Jerry Seinfeld wanted to write better jokes, and to do that, he had to write more jokes. He came up with a simple motivation technique. He bought a calendar and put an X in red Magic Marker every day that he did this. “After a few days you’ll have a chain,” he says. “Just keep at it and the chain will grow longer every day. You’ll like seeing that chain, especially when you get a few weeks under your belt. Your only job next is to not break the chain.” It served as a visual reminder to stay on track. Imagine if you had a calendar filled with red X’s. You don’t want to miss a day.

Your turn!

Do you make resolutions? Are you successful? How do you succeed when others fail?

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