How I Select and Make New Year Resolutions Sustainable

There was this comprehensive framework which I’ve put together about 4 years back on making New Year Resolutions. It was all encompassing but like any framework or system which aims to be comprehensive, they are often too complicated to be sustainable. I think I didn’t complete a single resolution on one of the years that follow.

In the beginning of this year, I was determined to to get everything to work. I try to simplify the way I look at it and I think it worked! I’m proud that I’ve completed 11.5 out of 13 goals this year. I’ve also added on 3 stretched goals for myself, completing 2 out of 3 of it. It’s a slugfest but I thought it worked out.

As I headed to a hermitage to onder on life again this year, drew from past experiences, drew from new knowledge such as HARD goals, this is now what I think will work and make it sustain.

Sustainable is the key.

(1) Select Goals to Cover All Aspects

I still feel strongly that we should make goals from all of these aspects as they help to fuel each other to help you accomplish all the goals.

We need not categorise the goal though. One single goal can be crafted to cover multiple aspects at the same time.

  • Spiritual: Goals that contributes directly to what you want in life
  • Mental: Always learning something new and keep your mind alive and healthy
  • Social/Emotional: Things that can build up characters such as empathy, service and intrinsic security
  • Physical (and Emotional) Well-being: The essence of life and energy to run your goals
  • Financial: Money is always needed to help ease you through some of the harder to reach goals like it or not

(2) Write Heartfelt Reasons for Each Goal

All goals made must have a strong heartfelt reason written down. It is written down so that we won’t lose sight of why we are after that goal in the first place.

Not sure about you but sometimes I will lose sight of why I am after something working on it for too long. This helps me stay focus.

(3) Select a Way to Sustain until the Goal is Accomplished

I believe there are two basic ways we can engage a goal:

  • Habit-based: Work the goal into a routine that we can do daily or weekly. Once it is a habit, it becomes easy to sustain. Reinvent the habit if it gets too monotonous.
  • Project-based: Spend solid hours preferably no longer than two to three months working on the project. If it is, break it into smaller bits. Once we are done, we can relax and do something else.

And then we can mix and match! For my physical well being goal for 2018, as a project, I intend to craft a workout. Once I have that, I can set the workout as a habit and do it as a routine. I will also intersperse with mini projects such as completing a half-marathon and let’s see if I can get Gold for my final (hopefully) Individual Proficiency Physical Fitness test.

(4) Do it with Someone if Possible

From a famous African proverb, “If you want to go fast, go alone. if you want to go far, go together.” Is there someone who you can share and accomplish the goal together with?

I also welcome the opportunity to form stronger bonds with my friends.

(5) It is OK to Refine and Redefine – Enjoy the Journey!

The perfectionist in me is really hard-up on completing my goals. It is like collecting stars for my report card. Really, I also learnt that it is ok to cut myself some slack. It is OK to refine my plans and redefine my goals if needed.

I’ve learned to look at the journey as an accomplishment too. This means I still need to see progress in me. Sometimes, circumstances change, a goal no longer seem that heartfelt, and it is time to wave goodbye to the goal for now.

And really, resolutions need not be set at the New Year. It can be done anytime. The magic of the New Year Resolution is that it gives me the chance to look at my life holistically at a regular interval.

My New Year Resolutions for 2018 are still not done up even though there’s only 10 hours to go but I have a good idea what I would like to do. Just need to pen it down to make sure my thoughts are crystal clear.

Wishing everyone a Happy 2018 in advanced and may you have a productive and fulfilling year ahead.


Personal Retreat 2016 Day 8: GOALS

The earliest record of goal-setting I had dated back to 2007. On top of a small piece of diary paper were the words, Birthday Resolution 2007, written in blue ink.

It has became a tradition for me to set goals twice a year. The New Year resolutions to set new goals and the birthday resolutions to act as a review mechanism.

This year’s resolution spans two pages

As the years gone by, setting resolutions became more sophisticated. I was primarily obsessed to know whether I am setting the correct goals or not. It became a framework, which I built it upon Stephen Covey’s 7th Habit and SMART goals.

However, that is back in 2013.

In 2015, I learnt about a different type of goal setting method, known as HARD goals. I agreed with it in principle, although I’m not quite sure how to apply it. It was only until end-2016, when my life coach, Lusi Lim, shared about her method of goal setting, it became obvious how my new framework is going to look like.

Lusi shared her goal setting methods through her life experience. The key takeaway I got from her sharing was that she removes the A and R from SMART goals as she believes that goals should be difficult to achieve in order to make a breakthrough.

There in lies the secret. That one part which I did not had the answer to. The part on how to fuse the conflicting HARD goals with the SMART goals portion of my framework!

I truly believe this will work and this is the missing piece that is required to fulfill resolutions. In fact, I think I can simplify my framework with this by a fair bit. With this new insight, New Year Resolution 2017 span two full pages and for the first time, there was great clarity in what I intend to achieve.

I will definitely want to share about this again some time in the future; it warrants a separate article! For now, let me try this out for myself first and attempt to achieve a 100% hit with my goals.

PS. Epilogue

This wraps up my 8 days of retreat and it has been a great success!

Aside from the goal setting, meeting up with friends and the experiencing stuff, there were actually two other goals I set for myself.

The first was to get some exercise everyday: I managed to jog at least 2km daily (except for Day 5 which I cycled instead) and even manage to throw in a gym session on the rainy Day 7.

The second was to record all my experiences and thoughts down in the journal. And this is what you have been reading.

For now, lots of work is already piling up on my desk as I write and the year is drawing to a close. 

It’s going to be an exciting 2017. : )

Signing off,
Flex Tio


How I Select and Make New Year Resolutions

It is another new year. Another time for me to start anew. I’ve only completed about 65% to 75% of my previous year’s resolutions but hey, at least some things get done and I have no qualms about completing those. And I intend to make it even better this time round.

Making new year resolutions is a habit which I had started about five to seven years ago. Time is limited and I wanted to do everything, learn everything and experience everything if I could but that is not possible. Then there’s also procrastination. Hence, I placed a lot of importance on the selection of the resolutions itself. I turn to Steven R. Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People for inspiration.


7t hHabit

I’ve taken the above diagram from the 7th Habit: Sharpen the Saw from Covey’s book.  In a nutshell, Covey advocates that doing task from all these four areas will help to preserve and enhance the greatest asset we have, which is us!

In Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind, Covey advocates that we should each have a mission statement and this will be used as our guiding principles in all things that we do.

My New Year Resolution Framework

I took Habit 2 and Habit 7, reinterpreted things a bit and came up with this:

New Year Resolution Framework

How do you use this? Well, the idea is to make a set of resolutions from all five categories, namely Financial, Physical, Mental, Social/Emotional and Spiritual. A plan needs to be made for each resolution.  Each resolution needs to be a SMART goal. Finally, share your resolutions with a few people you can trust.

Wait wait… Why go through all that trouble?

Here is where I hope to share some of my thoughts with you. If you can share your views on this, I would really appreciate it too.

The Five Categories

The five categories is a reinterpretation from Covey’s 7th Habit framework.

Spiritual: As Covey aptly puts it in his book, this is highly related to Habit 2. To me spiritual are actions that fulfills your life goals. For instance, if your goal was to set up a business, the main task of setting up the business will fall under the spiritual category. This is different from Covey’s interpretation where spiritual has to do more with self-reflection and meditation. I felt that it could include active pursuits that drives your mission and vision.

Mental: I interpret this as the knowledge required to fund your life dreams. However, not everything in mental supports solely your life goals. It should contain aspects to broaden one’s experience. This is just my way to inject something that can spark creativity and innovation in pursuing my life goals.

Social/Emotional: I must admit that I am still a bit fuzzy about this category but my resolutions in this category comprise actions that are highly people related or community service related. Family and friends always owns a permanent spot in my yearly resolutions. I also have a resolution about expanding my network of people who are willing to exchange views on my dreams with me in here. No man is an island and I don’t own all the knowledge in the world. Many of my success thus far, I owe it to people whom I have met and given me precious advice along the way.

Financial: This is an additional category I’ve added. I found that money is needed to fund for many of the activities that I need to undertake. I probably need some money to go for a course, to buy a book. It is always a nice thought to treat my family and friends to a nice meal one time or another, creating the environment to spend great times together better. Money can buy you happiness. It depends on how to spend it.

Physical: I’ll need all the energy I can get to accomplish my resolutions and here, I make resolutions that helps me improve both my physical and emotional well-being to improve my concentration. For my interpretation, meditation is relocated to this category.

Share with People You Trust

Accomplishing new year resolutions alone is a lonely affair (Captain Obvious strikes again haha). By sharing new year resolutions, I thought it does two things:

Firstly, for accountability, for someone to hold you accountable to what you have promised yourself can be a very powerful factor to push yourself.

Finally, if you are able to meet like-minded people, finding synergy in working out your resolutions together is a simpler task than working it out alone. After all, there are no rules saying that you can’t “copy” responsibly from someone else in life? That’s called collaboration.


Before I end off, I just want to drop a note of thanks to my friends, Kevin, Lences and Ivan for hearing me out that leads to this article. Especially to Kevin who spent three hours with me together working on his resolutions and mine. The gang from LusiGroup! Without them, there won’t be this weblog for me to incubate my ideas. I brought it to a hiatus for the longest time some time ago but I guess that is a story for another time.

Please share your thoughts with me. If you like it or hate it you can tell me too. I believe the comment box is found below~