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Resolutions Don’t Work — Use This Method Instead

A new year is here and you’re probably mapping out what you want to accomplish in the 12 months ahead.

Whether you’re resolving to leave your dead-end job, speak up more in meetings, or finally get started on the side projects you’ve been putting off, there’s one indisputable truth that’s impossible to ignore: change is hard.

Nearly one-half of Americans make New Year’s resolutions, but just 8% follow-through and accomplish their goals.

Most of us are familiar with the cycle: You’re jazzed in January, only to find yourself derailed and demotivated within a few weeks. You beat yourself up for failing to achieve your full potential despite your best intentions.

But creating deep, lasting change is less about willpower and more about designing smart, effective goals.

Try this new method to set New Year’s resolutions that create real results.

Turn Resolutions Into Questions

Asking questions and then answering them — instead of making statements — is a more effective method for sticking to your promises, research finds.

Enter: The “Questolution

Instead of pledging to start a business in the New Year, it would be more effective to ask, “How might I go about getting my first client?” or “What commitments might prevent me from going all in?”

This type of solution-oriented inquiry has been shown to produce consistent, significant changes in a variety of contexts from exercise and eating healthier to voting and gender stereotyping.

Why It Works

A question is a puzzle. It prompts a psychological response. Once a question has been raised, the mind almost can’t help trying to solve or answer it.

By posing your resolution in the form of a question rather than a statement, you begin to engage with it. Your brain goes to work breaking down the problem, sequencing next steps, and creating a path to success.

Questions spark creative, flexible thinking. Embracing challenges with curiosity helps liberate you from a perfectionist mindset and worrying about the “right” way you “should” go about achieving your goals.

Questolutions For Success

Asking ambitious, yet actionable, questions can shift the way you think  — and can serve as a catalyst to bring about change. They can help you get unstuck and rediscover momentum in your life or career.

Use the prompts below to create your own questolutions:

How might I…
… fit exercise into my day?
… double my income?

What if I…
… blogged regularly?
… spent one hour a week learning a new skill?

What do I need/want…
…to add to my workspace to make it more comfortable?
… to let go to feel more confident about my ability to succeed?

If you’re more of the journaling type, get a printable goal-setting worksheet here

Resolutions Don’t Work — Use This Method Instead

Melody Wilding, LMSW

Melody Wilding, LMSW is a performance coach, licensed social worker, and has a Masters from Columbia. She helps established and rising managers and executives advance in their careers. Her clients work at companies like Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, HP, and Deloitte. She also helps entrepreneurs take bold steps to grow their businesses. Melody has helped over 10,000 smart, self-aware people like you. Her coaching gives you actionable strategies to reach your goals. You get concrete steps to overcome the complex struggles of success. Melody loves arming ambitious people with tools and tactics to boost their confidence. She can teach you skills for assertiveness and influence. Her specialties include better managing your emotions at work. Melody also teaches Human Behavior at CUNY Hunter College in NYC. She writes about psychology and careers for Inc., Forbes, Fast Company, and more. Click here and grab the FREE COURSE to go from insecure to unstoppable confidence 5 DAYS TO FREEDOM FROM SELF-DOUBT..

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APA Reference
Wilding, M. (2018). Resolutions Don’t Work — Use This Method Instead. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 31, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 23 Dec 2018 (Originally: 1 Jan 2017)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 23 Dec 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.