new years resolutions

A Different Spin On New Year’s Resolutions

Have you ever made New Year’s resolutions? How did it work out?

Most New Year’s resolutions start with enthusiastic steps – such as joining a gym – and then fade fast. We tend to see the beginning of a new year as a fresh start. It represents the hope for something new – and better. That is both understandable and arbitrary. We always have the opportunity to create something new or improve upon an aspect of our lives.

Which different spin could we put on New Year’s resolutions? I thought of three options.

Option 1: A Monthly Stay/Stop/Start Exercise

Do the stay/stop/start exercise once a month. Identify up to three things in each category:

  • What should stay?
  • What do you want to stop doing?
  • What do you want to start doing?

Take five minutes. Focus only on January. Then do it again in February. Make it a monthly practice.

  • If you are married or live with a significant other, you might do it with them. You could include your kids, too.
  • I recommend you do this exercise for your business, too. You might want to involve your team (each person writes down their version, and then you all compare them).

Option 2: Set a Monthly Theme to Focus On

Another idea is to set a theme for the month. Start with a theme for the new month (January in this case).

You might think of a theme such as “Improve my health.” Of course, the intention is good, yet that is way too broad. How about “Go to the gym 3x/week”? If you have not gone to the gym in a long time, this theme might be too much of a leap.

Start small. Remember: Tiny steps taken consistently are unstoppable. Starting is the hardest part. Keep your ambition small enough to keep it going. Then step it up over time. The important part is to get into motion with taking action toward your goal.

A theme for January might be “Morning hiking.” This theme might mean that you commit to going for a 60-minute hike in the morning once a week in January. Then you set a new theme for February. They can build on each other. This method is also quite adaptive as well. It is much easier to commit to four hikes than hiking once per week for the whole year.

What about more than one theme per month? If you are like me, you might think I could take on two themes for January. Less is more. Set ONE theme and make it happen. Then select another theme after that and make that one happen. Which theme would target an area you really care about at the moment?

If you have trouble focusing on one theme, the stay/stop/start option may be better for you.

Option 3: Combine Stay/Stop/Start with a Theme of the Month

You could combine the Start/Stop/Start exercise with a theme of the month. I like this one the best because it helps flesh out the month’s theme. Here is an example.

Theme: Operation Time (aka “Make more time for producing new products and for time off”)

  • Stay: provide excellent experiences and results (ROI) to my clients
  • Stop: filling my entire calendar with client appointments
  • Start: use the additional time to work on new products and to take some time off

Of course, Operation Time needs a quick game plan. Stay/stop/start points the way for it. Keep it smart and simple (KISS).

The Key Takeaways

Most New Year’s resolutions are ambitious goals with no real plan to get there. Most of the time, “stepping up” is too fast and not sustainable. It’s from not going to the gym to going to the gym 3x per week. These intentions almost always fail.

Instead, I invite you to test one of these options:

  1. The Stay/Stop/Start exercise is fast and insightful. Focus on one month and limit yourself to three items per category. Do the same process each month. Thus, there is no reason to stuff it all into January.
  2. Set a theme for the next month. The theme establishes a focus for that month. Which concrete actions are you committing to taking? Less is more – make it small enough so you can and will do it. Then ramp it up the next month if you want to.
  3. This option is a combination of the first two options. It is my favorite because it helps bring the month’s theme to life and make it more specific.

I’m Curious

  • Which option do you like best – or what is your method?
  • If you were to pick a theme for January, which would it be?
  • What do you want to stay, stop, and start (possibly with a theme in mind?


  1. Cheryl Close on at

    Good ideas that have higher potential for success instead of making huge “New Year’s Resolutions.”

    • Stephie Althouse on at

      Thank you, Cheryl! That means a lot, especially coming from you! Happy New Year!

  2. This is brilliant! NY resolutions usually don’t work (for me) .

    Combining a stay-start-stop exercise with a monthly review focus and review makes sense.

    Digestible and practical advice, thank you.!

    • Stephie Althouse on at

      Thank you very much, Robert! Have you decided on your theme for January?

  3. Laura H Schultes on at

    Love This! I look forward to journaling and focusing on a theme each month, thinking about Stay/Start/Start.

    • Stephie Althouse on at


Leave a Comment