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UNRESOLVED | Why New Years Resolutions Don’t Work (And What You Should Do Instead)

A recent (fairly informal) study showed that nearly 50% of New Years resolutions fail within the first three months of the year. While that’s great news for the 50% they work for, the other 50% of us leave March feeling like losers. But before you pump up Radiohead’s “Creep” and start a self pity party, there are good reasons for your losing steam, and none them are your fault.

The top reason New Years’ resolutions don’t work is that they’re unreasonable. Most people can cite a lack of time, resources, motivation or loss of the initial zeal for the change. But it’s that ‘c’-word, change, that we’re really talking about. We all know change is difficult, so why would we burden our psyches with immediate, snap-your-fingers change all at once, just because it’s January? We know intellectually it won’t work; it’s time for us to catch up emotionally too.

Rather than declaring a set of non-realistic goals to perfect your life, we’ve stumbled upon a smart-as-a-whip YouTuber from down under. Muchelleb has the most sensible, actionable tips for organizing your life and upgrading your habits to help you meet your goals. Her starting point is not to lay out the meta-goals first, but instead to break them down into bite-sized steps that will lead to your intended consequences.

Her video “How to *actually* be consistent with your goals” lays it out best. Her stance is not to try harder, but to try different. Her strategies range from leaning into flexibility, defining daily tasks versus daily habits, something she calls “Alongside Accountability,” and, (this is key), experimentation. Rather than a rigid set of annual demands, her softer approach is rooted in honoring your personal style, and creating systems where you will succeed. Just writing that is a relief; view it in her words here.

The next video we found the most inspiring, and relatable to office design, is “How to Design Your Environment.” Muchelleb talks us through asking the right questions, brainstorming ideas, taking action, and iterating. We won’t give spoilers here, because we want you to watch it yourself, but trust us when we say her distillation of this process is VERY satisfying. You can see that one here.

One of our New Years goals is for burkeMICHAEL+ to be a reliable source of helpful information, no matter the topic or person inquiring. We are committed to seeking answers through experience and research to help our clients and partners. Notice we didn’t say “We will become our clients’ only resource and answer five questions a week,” which is weird, and frankly not do-able. Instead, we parsed the resolution as an action step or philosophy, making it much more realistic and actionable. Not only does it feel right, it works, as evidenced by this blog post. See what we did there?

Our Aussie guru would be so proud.

Mary Frances President + Ringmaster


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