Developing Effective Resolutions

I am suspicious of new year’s resolutions—according to the research of Prof. John C. Norcross (the University of Scranton), 45% of Americans make new year’s resolutions. According to US News & World Report, 80% of new year’s resolutions fail by February, and only 8% of resolutions are kept through the entire new year.

Have you ever made a new year’s resolution? One reason I think that we want to make new year’s resolutions is an underlying dissatisfaction with the way things have been. Perhaps we didn’t exercise as much as we would like (or at all), or didn’t eat well, spent too much money, didn’t spend enough time with family and friends. As academics these resolutions also often include our desire to write more, to write better, to be a better teacher, to craft more effective assignments, to get a job or to switch jobs or to get a grant or…the list can be endless.

The problem with resolutions such as these is that they are often hard to quantify—how do you force yourself to write more? How do you make a place hire you?—and lead to making us feel like we are not worthy of our goals and our positions, that if only we were to work harder we could get what we wanted.

In other words, we are setting ourselves up for failure.

This isn’t just a problem in terms of not achieving these resolutions we set for ourselves, but it is a problem in terms of recognizing that we are individuals who are worthy and deserving of successes, of having the space and time to slow down and not work all the time, of having meaningful relationships with family and friends, of being allowed to fail and to learn from that process without it reflecting on our self-worth.

In the next few posts I will propose a more productive and holistic approach to setting, reviewing, and reaching goals. I’ll cover:

  1. Looking Back
  2. Recognizing and owning your worth
  3. Developing a SMART plan
  4. Organizing your time

As we move into the spring  semester, I wish you a happy, healthy, and prosperous new year.

Originally posted at:


Ali, S. (2018). Why New Year’s Resolutions Fail. Retrieved from

Luciani, J. (2015). Why 80 Percent of New Year’s Resolutions Fail. Retrieved from

Norcross JC, Vangarelli DJ. (1988–1989). The resolution Solution: longitudinal examination of New Year’s change attempts. Retried from