You can’t get by without the BY…

It’s that time of year when confetti and resolutions fill the air and both often have the same consistency. Making New Year’s resolutions is an amusing pass-time for most, especially for those who enter into the process with little intent to carry out those resolutions. They make no effort to differentiate between dreams, wishes and resolutions. However, for some this is a time of serious reflection and the setting of new personal goals for the coming year. For them, the dictionary definition of resolve is the base upon which they make their resolutions –


  1. firm determination to do something.

Do you have resolve in your resolutions? Most resolutions that people make are about changing themselves or the way that they interact with others. One might resolve (again) to lose weight or perhaps to finally pursue a job change. Maybe the resolution is to be a better parent or partner. Perhaps the goal is to be more tolerant and open to new ideas and different people. The key there is that these are all goals. Without a commitment to plans and actions they will remain unfulfilled goals until next year’s resolution setting time.  

What turns a wish or dream or goal into a real resolution is the addition of a statement on how you will achieve that goal – the BY part of the resolution.

“I resolve to lose XX Pounds in 2020 , BY…”

The … part can be a list of actions that you commit to take in order to achieve that goal. It may be things like joining a weight loss support group, signing up for a weight loss food program, increasing your daily exercise by joining and using a gym or work-out program. Whatever it is, it should be achievable, measureable and have some time constraint imposed upon getting it done. It cannot use the word “try”. It must use the words “will” and “by”. It is that will, or firm determination, that you are keeping track of with the time constraint.

So, take a look at your resolutions for 2020. To separate the dreams and wishes from the things that you are really committed to get done, see which ones have a BY list. Do those things have a time constraint? Those are the things that you need to focus your resolve on getting done in 2020. Those are your real resolutions.

The next step may be to break your “BY” list down into smaller, more achievable increments, so that you can tackle and achieve the goal little by little. It is important to reinforce your resolve throughout the year by winning the small victories that achieving another step can bring. It is not unusual that larger goals or steps may have to be preceded by smaller, preparatory steps that you didn’t initially think of when  creating your BY list. Those aren’t setbacks; they are opportunities for more small victories on your way to success.

Having a good BY list for your resolutions also helps you stay on track by giving you something to look back upon as well as things to look ahead to doing next. You can find encouragement to continue towards your goals when you can look back and say to yourself, “Look at all that I’ve already achieved.”  

So, take a look at your 2020 Resolutions list before New Year’s eve and separate out those that you really resolve to achieve. For those, if you don’t already have one, create a BY list of steps and the times to achieve those steps to which you are willing to commit.

There is one last step to take, if you are serious about those resolutions. Put the resolution and the BY list on paper and find someone to be your accountability partner. Give that person the paper and ask them meet with you regularly to check on your progress and  to make sure that you are achieving the steps on your BY list. Sometimes we just need that last little push of having to report to someone else on the progress that we are making or not making. It reinforces our resolve.

Have a Happy New Year. May you achieve all of your resolutions BY…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: