The 10 Steps for Turning Your New Year’s Resolutions into Accomplished Wins
Jason Wittman, MPS, LAADC, CATC-IV
Here we are at Resolution Time again! This is the time of the
year when we ritualistically take stock of the year almost over,
to assess our accomplishments and make resolutions for the
coming year. Too often we find that the new resolutions we are
making for the coming year have a deja vu feeling about them
because they very closely resemble last year’s resolutions that
were never done. That is a very depressing way to start a new
year! If you can relate to this, here is a proven method to
ensure that a year from now you will be celebrating your winning
The usual way of dealing with resolutions is in terms of goals
and goal fulfillment. That is a set up for failure.
Unfortunately a list of goals or resolutions is little more that
a list of dreams and wishes. The problem with dreams and wishes
is that they are usually made with the unconscious idea that
they will be completed via a magical cure or miraculous
fulfillment of them. That must be what they are thinking because
rarely when folks make a list of resolutions and goals to
accomplish do they attach to them the concrete steps needed to
take them to completion. That dooms them to failure.
I propose a new way of making your resolutions this year. I
propose that you adopt the sports metaphor and view each
resolution as a possible winnable game worth playing. Let’s look
at them the same way you would look at fulfilling one’s desire to
win in a sport or a game of mental or physical skill —
baseball, for example. Here are the steps necessary to win at
the game of baseball (assuming you never played but resolve to
a. You would first question if the resolve and desire was strong
enough to give you the energy and stick-to-it-ness to persevere
through the process of learning and acquiring the skills to win.
Do you want to play the game because of an inner fascination
with it or are you doing so because it will satisfy someone
else’s desire for you to play the game. If it is the latter,
your chances of learning and winning are slim. Even if you do
win, it would be a hollow one and looking back, wouldn’t seem
like it was worth the effort.
b. Assuming that you really, really have a strong desire to
learn and win, the next important step is to decide what part of
the game, what position, you want to specialize in. To do that
you might have to try out all the positions to get a feel for
which ones you have a natural aptitude and as important, which
ones you enjoy playing the most.
c. Having figured out the position, such as “pitcher,” you then
need to acquire the skills of the game.
d. It is very important, at this point to make sure to work
through all your inner game issues and conflicts (thinking “I never was
too good at sports”) that might sabotage your best intentions.
e. Next comes getting the proper equipment and joining a team.
f. And finally, continuing to evaluate how you are doing and
what more needs to be done, learned or practiced to get to the
win at the game of pitching in a baseball game.
Didn’t I leave something out of this scenario? Would you ever
think you would be able to effectively accomplish all that
planning, learning the skills, practicing and evaluating the
progress of becoming a winning baseball pitcher without having a
coach? Not likely! Sure, you probably could arrive at the skill
and knowledge needed to win, given much time and
experimentation, but are you willing to spend years
rediscovering what’s already known? If you are willing to do
that, that’s nice, but you would be playing a different game,
the game of reinventing the wheel. With sports, having a coach
is an accepted part of the equation of winning. Most champion
sporting figures, as well as champions in all walks of life have an
expert who teaches them the game and coaches them as they apply the teachings,
The 10 Steps to Win the Resolutions Game
So now looking at your new, New Year’s Resolutions from the same
perspective as we just did for winning at sports, here are the 10
steps to playing your resolutions to win this year:
1. List your Resolutions in terms of winning a game, using the
following format: “I want to win at the game of __________
(doubling my income, cleaning out the garage, etc.) by
__________(a specific date) and answer the following questions
about each one you just wrote:
2. Make sure that you have described your Resolution in a way
that you know exactly what is the outcome you desire. The
following are the guidelines for developing a well-formed
a. State it in positive terms. The mind drops the word
“not” out of sentences, so saying, “I do not want to be so
judgmental this year,” is heard by the mind as “I do want to
be…….” Much better to say, “I want to be more accepting of
others this year.”
b. State what it is that you can accomplish by your authority,
by your actions and with the resources that you have or can
acquire. Resolutions that require other people to do something
is a set-up for failure.
c. Use descriptive words that relate to the senses (seeing,
hearing, feeling words). How do you see the outcome; what would
you or others be saying when you achieved it; how would it feel
to get it? Avoid generalized or abstract words. “I want my
property to be more secure,” is way less effective than, “I will
install a video surveillance system.”
d. Contextualize your outcome.
Specifically, in what context do you picture the outcome –
where, with whom, when, and how will you get it?
3. Is this game winnable?
4. Did you give yourself enough time to realistically accomplish
5. Assuming it is winnable, is this game worth playing? Will
winning this game be important to you? Do you really want to or
need to win this one? Is it winnable but really someone else’s
game that would be worth THEIR PLAYING rather than you? Is it worth it for you
to play it for them? Answering “no” to these questions are
indicators of non-starters or, at most, winnable games
(resolutions) begrudgingly played and not a prescription for
having fun. Having fun is the real reason for playing and
living, isn’t it?
6. Do you have the skills and resources to accomplish the
resolution? If not, you need to alter the finish date to have
enough time to get your act together? What are the steps you
need to do to accomplish and win this game?
7. Are there any parts inside you that are either subtly or
screamingly suggesting that either you can’t win at this game or
you ought not even attempt this one? Until you address their
concerns and satisfy them, they will sabotage your best efforts
and create failure.
8. Remembering that the environment always wins!Do you have
all the tools, working space, equipment and
positive support of friends, family and/or business associates
you might need to win this one?
9. As you progress towards the final end date of the game, how
are you going to know how well you are progressing and what more
do you need to do to end up with a win? In other words, how
are you going to keep score of your progress and make the
required mid-course corrections?
10. Would it be helpful to have a coach that could co-create with
you, and when needed guide and teach the necessary skills, to
have this be a winnable game worth playing? (Hint: Probably!)
Having a coach IS the winner’s edge!
Working this process with each of the items on your list of
Resolutions will allow you to weed out the ones that are just
hope-for-things, other people’s hope-you-do-for-them-things, and
the not-realistic-to-win-at-things. That will leave you with a
list of winnable games (aka resolutions) AND a plan for winning
them. This will ensure that next year at this time you won’t
just be celebrating a New Year. You will be celebrating the
successful conclusion of a Winning Season of Your Life! (I will be celebrating too, because I only win when youwin.)
©2006, rev. 2020, Jason Wittman
[Permission to reproduce this article is granted as long as this notice and the “About the Author and the copyright information are included.]
*About The Author* Jason Wittman, MPS, LAADC, CATC-IV (aka Successful People’s Secret Weapon) has had a private practice as a Counselor and Coach for over 40 years. His practice, http://Stage2Recovery.com focuses on coaching and advising business and professional clients, who are recovering from alcoholism and addictions, to work and live at their exquisite best. He is an expert on teaching and coaching the “getting-on-living,” self-esteem building and spirituality parts of recovery. He has his master’s degree from Cornell University in counseling-psychology and is certified as a drug & alcohol counselor