It’s more than passé to say that New Years’ resolutions are cheesy and useless. Most people hate them, ultimately, because they never complete them — even thinking about resolutions calls up past failures, and the cognitive dissonance of failing at goals and wanting to make new ones is too much to bear.

And why do people never fulfill their resolutions? Because they suck at making the right ones. Just as water always runs downhill, humans will always take the path of least resistance without the proper plan and incentive structure, at least over a long time horizon like a year. Jefe recently told you how to reflect on how you’ve developed in the past year — In concert with that, here are three tips to help maximize your resolutions going forward:

 1. Make it actionable

You often see people make resolutions you know they will never accomplish, and the majority of the time it’s because the goal carries with it no reasonable plan of action. “I want to get better with my money” is a meandering goal without any implied path, and will soon be forgotten. Conversely, “I will read a personal finance book and create a budget” embeds the plan within the goal itself, and is much more likely to stick.


2. Make it quantifiable

This is another way of accomplishing the first tip. Roosh has written that having goals with numbers is not a sustainable path to fulfillment and happiness, and I agree with him. That said, tracking your progress on something helps you definitively cite your improvement. Instead of saying “I want to read more,” this year I said “I want to read 25 books.” The satisfaction of accomplishing numbered goals is not going to lead to eternal bliss (for what it’s worth, I’m going to fall about 3 short), but its utility in building the resume of your existence is undeniable.

3. Make it reasonable

Everybody knows the guys who set pie-in-the-sky goals. Take the “Resolutioners” at the gym—they know deep down that it’s irrational, but they act as if that they’re going to work off 20 years of neglect with 3 weeks of sets on the leg press machine. They inevitably fail and quit. Don’t overload yourself with expectations. Acknowledge that any type of self-improvement is a painstaking, stepwise process. Better to shoot for a 20% change and hit it than a 40% change and quit after a month. I’m not saying you shouldn’t “dream big” over the long term, but recognize that there are only so many hours in a day, and only so many days in a year.

New Year’s Resolutions, for most people, amount to little more than useless bullshit. Employ these tips to separate yourself. A year from now, you’ll be able to reflect proudly on what you’ve accomplished.

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