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How to make your year a success without really trying

At the beginning of each year, many of us set New Year resolutions and by the end of January they are often a distant memory.  So how can this year be different?

Resolution vs Goal

The terms resolution and goal are often used interchangeably, especially at the beginning of a year.

According to,

resolution is defined as a firm decision to do or not to do something


goal is defined as the result or achievement toward which effort is directed.

In effect, to achieve a goal, you must first make a resolution to modify your actions in some way.

Resolutions and Micro-Resolutions

Resolutions fail for many reasons, one of which is that we underestimate our mental and emotional resistance to change.

We may have good intentions however by disturbing our established routines, we create mental fatigue, emotional stress and a strong impulse to revert to what we're used to and feels right from past behaviour.  That is, we revert back to 'autopilot'.

In her book, Small Move, Big ChangeCaroline Arnold talks about the need to set micro-resolutions in order to achieve true change.  A micro-resolution is "designed to reform a precise autopilot activity and requires little willpower to succeed."

7 Rules of Micro-Resolutions

According to Arnold, there are seven rules to setting micro-resolutions.

For each micro-resolution, it:

  1. Must be easy
  2. Is an explicit and measurable action
  3. Pays off upfront
  4. Is personal to you
  5. Resonates with you
  6. Fires on cue

And finally,

rule 7 is that you should work on only two resolutions at a time.  Test drive and refine them until they become habits.

A new habit needs time to work its way into autopilot and become neurologically embedded.

How can you use micro-resolutions?

Micro-resolutions can be used as part of the process to achieving goals.  The real action happens around the edges of a person's established behaviour.  By focusing on modifying one small component of your behaviour, you're able to turn this modification into a habit.

Micro-resolutions can be applied to both your personal and work life.

Here are two workplace scenario resolutions that can be assisted by using micro-resolutions.

Scenario #1

Resolution – Improve workplace relationships

Success at work can rely heavily on the quality of your relationships.

Is there someone in the workplace that you find difficult to work with?  After every encounter are you frustrated and wonder:  'Why is this happening?'

We cannot change other people's behaviours however we can modify our own.  If you pay close attention to how your communication with another person affects you both, you'll identify behavioural patterns that you can improve.

So rather than saying 'Why?' ask yourself 'What is it that I can do differently?'

For example, your co-worker may be someone who you feel focuses on insignificant things which often leads to a heated discussion.  You may have a tendency to interrupt them to finish the conversation so that you can focus on more important matters.

Your micro-resolution could be to allow the other person to speak without interrupting them.

What would happen then?  It could lead to the person feeling that they've been heard.

What would that mean for your workplace relationship?

Scenario #2

Resolution – Build client relationships

Having good client relationships is vital for any business to be successful.  What are the small things that can impact this relationship?

Do you find that you constantly run late for meetings?  What is the impression that you give when this happens?  When you're late to a meeting with a client or potential client it sends the message that you don't respect their time.  Instead of building trust, you instil doubt about you and your organisation being a good fit for them.

What are the factors that contribute to making you late?  Consider these questions:

  • Have you prepared everything that you need in advance or are you still collecting all of the relevant information up until your departure time?
  • Are you reliant on others to help you gather the information for the meeting?  Do they understand the importance of providing you with the information in a timely manner?

Your micro-resolution could be to focus on gathering all of the information that you need and have that prepared at least one hour before your departure time.

This will allow you to check that you have everything that you need, minimising any last minute panic.

Everyone needs to feel valued and appreciated.  By arriving on time or better still, early, to a meeting, you are letting your client know that they are important to you.

How could this micro-resolution build your relationships with your clients?

Effects of Micro-Resolutions

"We are what we repeatedly do.
Excellence therefore is not an act but a habit."
– Aristotle

Micro-resolutions are a series of small actions that you take that gain momentum and solidify to form habitual behaviours.  These behaviours work toward you achieving your goals for the year.

Over to you

What are your goals for this year?  What micro-resolutions will you be making to help you achieve your goals?

Comment below to let us know what it is you will be doing.



Here are 3 more articles to help you with your goals for this year:


Maria Pantalone

Maria Pantalone works with individuals and teams to make communication their strength so that their message is heard. Her programs help her clients to excel in their role and be recognised as leaders in their field.
30 Business Communication Tips

Looking for tips to help you with your speaking, writing and interpersonal communication?

Then download my free ebook, 30 Business Communication Tips.

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  1. Daniel Saluni

    Hi Maria,

    Happy New Year! Hope you're doing well, thanks for the topic shared on micro- resolution very helpful!

    I know it will be a good year & looking forward to the challenges & fun that will come with it.. take care left my new email address below.



    • Maria Pantalone

      Hi Daniel

      Happy New Year to you too! I'm pleased that you've found the micro-resolutions article helpful. It would be good to hear how you put them into practice.

      All the best


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