New Year Resolutions

Why Are They So Hard To Accomplish?

We all know people who begin a new year with great intentions and a well planned list of resolutions that they plan to accomplish. Yet, by mid-year, there is only slight progress on that list, and by the end of the year, several of the resolutions get carried over to the next year or else discarded.


Why does this happen on such a wide scale? Is it because the person making the resolutions is too busy, too forgetful, too lazy, or derailed by some shortcoming? No, it’s none of those.

It’s because the person who wants to gain an important benefit by accomplishing his/her resolution does not follow these words of advice from the late General Creighton W. Abrams, Jr: “When eating an elephant, take one bite at a time.”


This means that when committing to a large goal, first divide it into several smaller, more manageable portions (tasks), which can be started right away. Take bites of that elephant early and often.


Here is an example. Say someone has a resolution or goal to “become a more confident, competent public speaker.” A noble goal, it’s likely to facilitate knowledge transfer, improve self-confidence, and may lead to career advancement and increased income.


There is a Chinese proverb that says a journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. OK, so what is the first step in “eating this elephant?” Indeed, what is any step? Without specific action steps, this goal is likely to remain a goal—rather than become reality—for a long, long time. To assure success in accomplishing this goal, the first step is to create a list of action steps such as these:

  • Join ToastMasters.

  • Enroll in a public speaking class in a local high school or college continuing-ed program.

  • Create a YouTube video...a product review or how-to tips on a topic of interest.

  • Volunteer as a civic group member, political campaign organizer, or church group leader.

  • Become a cast member with a speaking role in a local playhouse or theater group.

  • Participate in public forums, town hall meetings, or other community organizations.


Each of those six activities should have contacts, dates, locations, costs, strategies for overcoming obstacles, the expected benefits, aids to visualizing your success, and how it felt when the activity was completed. Each activity should require no more than a half day to complete or better yet, under 90 minutes.

If an activity takes more than a half day, it should be divided into two or more sub-activities to assure that it is a small enough ‘bite’ to encourage a just-do-it mindset rather than endless procrastination and excuses.


Now, here’s an action step for you. Share this article with someone who is ready to turbocharge his/her success in achieving some great resolution or goal.

"Our goals can only be reached through a vehicle of a plan, in which we must fervently believe, and upon which we must vigorously act. There is no other route to success."

~ Pablo Picasso