Success with Resolutions

Only 20% of new businesses fail in the first year.

80% of New Year resolutions fail in the first month.

What do entrepreneurs have that resolution-makers don’t? How is it that businesses crash on through, while diets and exercise routines simply crash? What is the difference? Why are resolutions more likely to fail? Is it the difference in the rewards? A successful business promises a paycheck and a way to eat, while a diet promises to starve. Or at least it might seem that way.

Possibly a solution to the problem is to create a reward for the resolution.

For instance, someone taking on a new diet should make sure the goal is clear. If the diet is for more balanced blood sugar, a dieter could make the goal be consistency. Chart the progress and make sure there are short term rewards as well as long term rewards. A short term reward might be a cool new gadget to hold drinks, such as a Blender Bottle. With clear expectations and rewards for the effort, success is more likely.

Another resolution-maker might want to carry on with a new exercise routine. Again, the goal needs to be clear. Is it for more endurance? Or is the goal to slim down? Or is the goal to gain muscle mass? Whichever of these, the goal can be so undefined as to be unattainable. To make it more meaningful, the goal needs to be more detailed. Someone trying to gain endurance needs to define the activity, activity duration, and energy spent. The energy spent means how much effort is put into the work. Endurance can be quantified by those three measures. Someone rating their endurance would want to measure an initial event and compare it to later events. A reward in the case of someone riding a stationary bike might be to forego music the first few times around, and then when the endurance improves, reward with music to make the activity more interesting and fun. This kind of reward also reinforces the habit.

To slim down, a person may simply want to fit in their old pants again. Easy enough for the brain, but not an easy map to follow. If a person wants to slim down, they need to define how exactly they’re going to get there. They could say, “More exercise and a modified diet.” More exercise and a modified diet are still generalized goals. If a person needs to eat fewer cheeseburgers, define it exactly so, but with numbers. How many fewer? Does anyone even know how many they eat in a week or a month or a year? If not, and the goal is a number, then it’s time to find out. If the number was twenty, make the goal be fifteen. Same with the “more” exercise generalization. It needs to be less nebulous in its formation. A person should decide how much exercise is already being done and then add to it. Say this person already exercises once a week. They may want to add one more exercise session or four. The number added depends on the person, but success depends on the clarity they give to their resolution.

Consider the business again for a moment. If a person went into business and decided to sell shorts to people who want to workout, would they say, “Let’s sell enough shorts to break even. Ready, go!”

Of course not. They would say, “We’ve spent X number of dollars starting the company. We need to sell Y number of exercise shorts to break even on startup costs, so let’s sell Y + n to make a profit! At least enough to buy lunch. Work for that cheeseburger!”

Define the goal.

Chart the progress.

Reward the progress.

Published by Kurt Gailey

This is where I'm supposed to brag about how I've written seven novels, twelve screenplays, thousands of short stories, four self-help books, and one children's early-reader, but I'd rather stay humble. You can find out about things I've written or follow my barchive (web archive, aka 'blog) at or follow me on twitter @kurt_gailey. I love sports and music and books, so if you're an athlete or in a band or you're a writer, give me a follow and I'll most likely follow you back. I've even been known to promote other people's projects.

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