Make a Small Commitment

January 3, 2021

Categories: Commitment

We’re in the season of New Year’s resolutions. Everyone is dusting off their gym memberships and trying to decide what they want to change in 2021.

Most NYE Resolutions Fail

The unfortunate reality is most New Year’s resolutions fail. In fact, studies have shown that about 80% of New Year’s resolutions do not succeed over the long haul. Given this depressing statistic, is it even worth making a resolution? How can you give yourself the best chance to succeed?

One problem with New Year’s resolutions is people make a goal that is too big. We often get excited about big goals, but if a goal seems too impossible or out of reach, we can get discouraged and quit.

Make a Small Commitment

What’s the alternative? This year, make a small commitment, something you are confident you can do. You don’t have to abandon your big goal, but think about what the first step toward that goal might be. Make that first step your New Year’s resolution.

Build on Your Success

The benefit of doing resolutions this way is you gain a lot of energy and confidence from successes. If you can succeed at your first (small) goal, you begin to trust yourself more. Once you have succeeded at your first step, you can always make a new goal for the next step. But it’s better to make a small commitment first.

I applied this principle in my life the other day. One of my friends invited me to participate in a Scripture reading plan for 2021. I was interested—my faith is important to me and having a structure is helpful—but the full reading plan felt a bit overwhelming to me (e.g., reading several chapters every day). I thought about it, and decided to make a smaller commitment—reading through one part of the reading plan every day. This goal felt more manageable. By making a smaller commitment, I’m more likely to succeed. I can always add more later if I want to.


What is your New Year’s resolution? How might you “dial back” your goal and make a smaller commitment that is more likely to succeed?


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