New Year Resolutions That May Actually Work

What better way to feel good about your prospects for the coming year than to make a set of new year resolutions?

According to, the federal government’s official web portal, the most popular new year resolutions are:

Drink Less Alcohol

Get a Better Education

Get a Better Job

Get Fit

Lose Weight

Manage Debt

Manage Stress

Quit Smoking Now

Save Money

Take a Trip

Volunteer to Help Others

Problem is, these kinds of resolutions are forgotten before the New Year’s Day dim sum lunch is over because they’re: (1) Way too broad; (2) Likely to trigger unpleasant associations that lead to avoidance; and (3) Fail to specify concrete manageable actions.

Here’s a version of the same resolutions reworded to produce results:

Only drink scotch that’s at least 12 years old because you’re worth it

Don’t read more than 5 pages before turning out the lights

Don’t volunteer for more than 1 extra assignment per month

Don’t do more than 20 pushups before breakfast

Eat as much as you want for breakfast

Pay for all discretionary purchases with small bills

Switch to green tea lattes

Smoke only where non-smokers are nearby

Drop all your pocket change into a piggy bank every night

Consider the many difficult things that were created without your presence

Take an extra brownbag for the homeless person you pass every day

A few moments of reflection will convince you that these resolutions are more likely to produce something like the desired changes because we human beings are mostly perverse, pain-averse creatures of habit.