Blog Post

ICYMI: How to Actually Stick to Your New Year’s Resolutions

Cornerstone Editors

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It’s the first month of the new year, which means you’ve probably started working on your 2020 resolutions. How are they coming along so far? One recent study predicts that most people are likely to give up on them by mid-month — or, more specifically, January 19th.

Whatever the commitment, resolutions require a great deal of discipline and can mean making mentally or physically taxing changes to your daily routine. This can make failing feel inevitable, but it doesn’t have to be. Here at Cornerstone, learning, goal-setting and growth is part of our technology, meaning helping others stick to their goals is key to our company philosophy. We spoke to a couple of Cornerstone executives to learn more about how they think about New Year’s resolutions and gather their advice on how to successfully stick to these goals.

Mike Bollinger Makes a Plan for Staying Accountable

Phones and other digital devices are great at connecting us to the world, but can lead to some negative side effects like overstimulation and the inability to effectively connect with others face-to-face. Mike Bollinger, the global vice president of thought leadership and advisory services at Cornerstone, noticed these trends and decided to work against them this year.

By holding himself accountable and with the help of his co-workers, Bollinger is confident he will help reduce screen time in 2020. He and his team developed a tactic they call "Bollinger’s Rule of 3." After three messages or emails are exchanged on a subject or project, they have to make a phone call instead. Not only has this helped cut down screen time, but it has helped to boost productivity and build better relationships internally.

Working with others promotes accountability, which is a great way to meet your goals. With a team of individuals there to cheer you on every time you make a positive change — or, in Bollinger’s case, every time you make a call instead of sending a text — it’s a little easier to replace a bad habit with a good one.

Bollinger is also introducing small changes to his day-to-day routine, like not picking up his phone until 30 minutes to an hour after waking up and setting use timers on social media and messaging apps. Turning off the sound on his phone helps too, says Bollinger: "A ping or beep creates a false sense of urgency, and by turning it off I’m reminded that nothing is that immediate." Minor adjustments like these can make meeting New Year’s resolutions feel less difficult and, in effect, more achievable.

Heidi Spirgi is Changing the Language of Resolutions

Heidi Spirgi, the Chief Marketing and Strategy Officer at Cornerstone, wants to make more use of her leadership position and work to advance Cornerstone’s social enterprise mission. But she isn’t labelling these two goals as New Year’s resolutions — instead, they are Spirgi’s intentions for the new year.

While resolutions are firm decisions to do or not do something, she says, intentions are less cut-and-dry and represent a commitment to acting and thinking in a way that will help you meet your goals. And unlike resolutions, which can be demoralizing if they are not immediately met, intentions focus more on your desire to meet your goals and why they mean so much to you.

Fueled by this line of thinking, Spirgi has already made decisions that will inspire ways to use her leadership platform. For example, she recently attended the 2019 TEDWomen Conference, a three-day event that brought together astonishing individuals to discuss their ideas, achievements or experiences. There, Spirgi connected with other leaders and entrepreneurs and gathered inspiration from their commitment to finding better solutions for some of the world’s biggest problems — from hunger epidemics to poor healthcare.

Instead of approaching new year goals with an exact schedule for accomplishment, Spirgi recommends intentions. They can help you feel less defeated if you fail because you’re focused on the larger picture.

Jeff Miller Can Help You Stick to Your Resolutions This Year

According to Jeff Miller, the associate vice president of learning and organizational effectiveness at Cornerstone, staying committed to your resolutions will require more than just new behaviors: You’ll need a regular practice of reflection as well.

To get started, schedule weekly meetings with yourself to check in and reflect on what you have accomplished thus far. This approach helps you set yourself up for incremental progress toward larger goals. During these meetings, think about questions like "Did you achieve the things you set out to do on Monday?" and "What did you learn about yourself this week?" This kind of reflection will help you understand why you achieved some things and not others so you can build a better plan for improvement.

Miller also recommends making sure that your goals are "SMART" ones — specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound. By regularly reviewing your goals against these guidelines and being honest in your weekly reflections, it will be easier to meet your resolutions in the new year.

Whatever the resolution (or intention), don’t think of them as work or a contract that must be fulfilled; instead, look at them as a mechanism for personal improvement that you’re working towards every day, month and year.

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