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Pre-solution: The Forgotten Step Before Resolutions Can Take Hold


As 2013 draws to a close, it’s seductive to make declarations about how things (including ourselves) will be different in the coming year.

  • Daily exercise
  • Kind words to the crotchety co-worker
  • No sugar

The list goes on.

The problem is that too frequently we jump to these resolutions prematurely. They end up operating in a vacuum and without context… more like challenges than congruent, integrated intentions. They capture our intention for a few weeks; but they fail to capture our imaginations and hearts sufficiently to carry them further.

And it’s all because we skip an important step: we look forward before looking backward.

The new year inspires new energy… but that energy can be more constructively and productively focused if we spend even a few minutes reflecting on the past twelve months:

  • What activities generated the greatest sense of accomplishment? (Note: This is different from ‘what did you accomplish?’ This is about the activities that got you there.)
  • When did you feel most alive?
  • Who inspired you and why?
  • What were you doing when you were happiest?
  • What came easily to you?
  • What were the greatest struggles?
  • What did you learn… about yourself… about others… about life?

Your answers to these questions are fodder for resolutions that will mean something… that will stick with you beyond the first few weeks of January…. that will direct your attention and action in ways that are meaningful and fulfilling. Allowing resolutions to emerge from this reflection yields an emotional pull toward what matters versus a punitive push toward a bunch of ‘shoulds’ that might not.

So, before toasting the New Year and looking forward to 2014, take a few pre-solution moments to look backward then set some genuine intentions and resolutions that will stick with you and propel you forward into the life you envision.


  1. Wonderful approach, Julie! It does get very exciting as we approach a new year. I have certainly fallen prey to the excitement with grandiose goals that barely made the first quarter. In recent years, I have significantly improved my approach and a key part is reviewing the past year as you recommend in this post.

    Your questions are perfect for getting a well balanced view on the past. With that top of mind, I’m sure people will be far more successful in the future. Thank you for sharing!

    I also want to thank you for all of the wonderful content you have shared during 2013! I wish you All The Best and Continued Success in 2014!

    • Thanks so much, Stephen. I’ve really appreciated your insights and support over the past year. All the best to you in 2014 and beyond!


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