Beyond Blue

Beyond Blue

5 Ways to Make Your Resolutions Stick

I know what you’re thinking: another cheesy, goody-two-shoes article on how I can keep all those goals I’ve set going into 2010. If you abhor such articles (like 10 ways to de-clutter your bathroom), then keep on reading. I’m like you. Normal.


1. Bribe yourself.

A so-called parenting expert that I read last week claimed that bribing your kid to get him to do something was an example of irresponsible and ineffective parenting. I suspect that the same man sits in his quiet and tidy little office cranking out advice like that while either his wife or nanny is home changing diapers and doling out time-outs. Let’s face it. Bribing is one of the most effective tools to get anyone–your kid, your stubborn mother, your golden retriever, or yourself–to do something.


My running coach used this brilliant method to train me to run 18 miles. Before our run, he hid Jolly Ranchers along our route, every two miles, so he’d say to me when I wanted to stop, “In another half-mile, you get a treat! Come, you can do it!” And like a rat spotting a half-eaten hotdog, I’d run to the candy. You want to make sure you stick to your resolution? Bribe yourself along the road there: at the one-forth mark, one-half mark, and three-quarters mark.

2. Team up.

Think of the buddy system from Boy Scouts. Teaming up with someone means that you have to be accountable. You have to report to someone. Which brings down your percentage of cheating by 60 percent, or something like that. Especially if you’re a people-pleaser like me. You want to be good, and get an A, so make sure someone is passing out such reviews.


Also, there is power in numbers, which is why the pairing system is used in many different capacities today: in the workplace, to insure quality control and promote better morale; in twelve-step groups to foster support and mentorship; in exercise programs to get your butt outside on a dark, wintry morning when you’d rather enjoy coffee and sweet rolls with your walking partner.

3. Throw in a gimme.

This is to ensure on December 31 of next year, you will have succeeded at one goal. So make it an easy one: “Throw out my Christmas sweater with a sequenced reindeer,” “Pitch my golf-ball socks with two huge holes in the toes,” “Give away my Yanni CDs,” “Frame the family photo I had taken two summers ago.” You see where I’m going with this one? Heck, if you list a bunch of gimmes, then you’ll feel even better about yourself come next December.


4. Allow some backtracking.

I think most of us say “to hell with it,” around the third week in January because it takes that long for the brain to realize it is going to need a motherload of discipline to keep the resolution, and our goal isn’t so newish and cool anymore. Like last May, when I decided to eat according to the “Skinny Bitch” diet. I consumed hummus and celery for three weeks straight, feeling fantastic every time I fastened my loose jeans. Then I got really stick of hummus and celery … so sick of them that I still can’t eat them to this day.

We need to go in to our resolution knowing that we are very likely going to mess up in a few weeks, or maybe days, and that’s okay, because for every two steps backwards we make another half-step forward. Technically, then, we can categorize it as “progress.” Moreover, if we lose our black and white thinking, and adjust our vision to see more colors– situations and events in which we can’t just eat celery and hummus– then we’ll be able to hang onto to our resolutions until February, and maybe even June!


5. Wear some resolution bling.

Let me explain this one. It has something to do with my obsessive-compulsive self, and being raised by a lot of nuns who held a lot of rosaries and holy water and other faith objects. I need reminders–ideally 234 of them–to refresh me on goals, promises, and prayers I promised myself or recited in the morning with my coffee. And because tattoos are expensive and well, permanent, I go with jewelry, medals, and beads I can hang on to.

So, for example, my resolution this year is to worry less and trust God more, especially financially: to be a little more relaxed, in general, and to try to let the big guy upstairs deal with it before I take it from him, throwing a hissy fit. This is essentially the Serenity Prayer: to accept the things I can’t change, and to know the difference between the things that I can’t change and the things I can. So I wear a serenity prayer bracelet, each bead symbolizing part of the prayer. My key chain holds a large cross with the serenity prayer engraved on it, and it makes a jingling sound as I drive, to remind me that the pea-brained fellow in front of me who won’t let me around him is one thing I can’t change.


Click here to subscribe to Beyond Blue and click here to follow Therese on Twitter and click here to join Group Beyond Blue, a depression support group. Now stop clicking.

  • BrokenSp1r17

    O_O Wow…. Just… Wow. I needed that; I really did. I’m so much of a perfectionist. If I messed up just once, even if it’s a tiny flub, I’ll give up entirely. Thank you for this piece, it’s really helpful. ^_^
    “Don’t center on your anxiety…. Keep your concentration here and now, where it belongs.” ~ Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn, SW I: PM

  • BrokenSp1r17

    Thank you so much for this piece, Therese. This is advice I could really use. I give up too quickly on things. Hopefully this will help break my stiff neck (i.e. my stubbornness)to makes so much needed changes.
    “Don’t center on your anxiety…. Keep your concentration here and now, where it belongs.” ~Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn SW I: PM

  • Karen N

    Wonderful, Therese, just wonderful! You made me laugh and nod in agreement. How do you do it?? (Just keep doing it, please!)

  • Melissa Gill

    What novel thoughts about our Resolutions, to resolute or not to resolute, that is the question. I like #3….I can fill up a page with those.

  • Larry Parker

    I would have needed more than Jolly Ranchers for inspiration to run a 2/3 marathon. Try Bill Clinton jogging with Big Macs! :-)
    The HuffPo column is great, Therese. I continue to look forward to it in 2009.

  • Jill

    This was awesome to read, thanks! :)

  • WillSpirit

    Love the suggestions. This is my first time at your site in quite a while. Good way to start the New Year. My resolution is to listen to all the spiritual messages I’ve received over the years and take them seriously. It’s too easy to discount them as imagination, hallucination, or wishful thinking. No more. So thank you for giving me some ideas for how to keep universal love, cosmic unity, and the rightness of creation in mind in the coming year(s). Blessings.

  • Irene


  • Nancy Roberts

    Your suggestions are a start! I’m very prone to inconsistency. I am wanting several things to happen and have trouble narrowing the list. You are practical and humorous at the same time. That is what I think will help so many who try to do the resolution thing. I haven’t commented too much on here yet and appreciate your help!

  • TaraSophia

    Thanks Therese. I love the ideas of moving away from our black and white thinking about goals and also teaming up. My experience is that we need other people – for the support and accountability – to make behavior change.
    Here’s what I’m thinking about with regards to resolutions this year:
    1) Is this a goal from my authentic self, or is it from my inner critic or a sense of should? If it’s not authentic to me, it’s going to be hard to sustain motivation and inspiration.
    2) If I’m not getting the results I want, instead of asking, “what’s wrong with me?” and beating myself up, I’m going to ask, “what other supports do I need to put in place to be successful?”
    3) Getting to the root of the goal by exploring: what feeling am I seeking? Most of us set goals because we believe achieving or doing a particular thing will lead to feeling a certain way. We can take shortcut and just turn our attention to: How do I want to feel? What are all the ways I can feel more of that feeling, starting today?
    Happy new year!

  • Leeannd

    That was a great one Therese but not a surprise coming from you!!! I especially enjoyed your part about the braclet where did you get it?
    I NEED ONE OF THOSE!!! I also when I get the money I plan on getting your book, I am trying to save but life always gets in the way..Bills ect. As I have said in the Lords Time!!
    Thank you and God bless you and your family

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  • Jodi

    I love the idea of “bribing” yourself, especially at strategically placed increments :) Sometimes it’s a little treat in a moment of weakness that helps us successfully climb over a daunting hurdle.
    I recommended to my friend that she treat herself after finishing certain chunks of studying for her GREs– after each chapter, she goes out for ice cream and mindfully acknowledges that that cone is in reward for her hard work. Believe it or not, the knowledge that a cone is in her future pushes her to read/study harder and more efficiently.
    Thanks for another great post!

  • TeriCA

    I live by an “adjusted” serenity prayer:
    (mean no offense to those who use the serenity prayer, just my version of it: (humorously)
    The original in itself is
    wonderful, yes, but I live by a
    significantly different version:
    Powers That Be,
    Grant me the Strength to throw out the things I cannot change,
    The Ability or funds to change
    the things I can,
    The Wisdom to hide the bodies
    of the people I had to kill to get
    where I am now.
    And the Serenity to accept
    myself as I am.
    Fondly wrote Therese!

  • Eddy

    Do you know this post? And what do you think of it?

  • Sherry

    I just want to thank you for all your emails and posts. I don’t really know how I happened to start getting the Beyond Blue emails. (Probaby ran accross a link somewhere when I was searching for answers on how to deal with not really wanting to live anymore.) Since then between your emails and my smart doctor seeing something in me that I couldn’t see and giving me some help, I am doing better. Well I was till around the holidays and the paxil just doesn’t seem to be helping as well. But seeing your post today did lift me up. Life seems so overwhelming sometimes. But when I read your words I tend to remember to take a step back and relax a little and not take myself so darn seriously. Thank you again for everything. You don’t know how much you have helped me. And I know you are doing GOD’s work!

  • Barbara

    I especially love the “bling” idea. I will definitely use that to help me remember my resolutions of gratitude, peace and positivity. Thank you!

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