Keeping a New Year's Resolution

3 ways to make commitments and change your life.

Stever Robbins
4-minute read
Episode #205

ScaleResolutions aren't enough. We need commitments. But before we can commit, we must choose the right thing to commit to. Then we need to commit in a way that will change our behavior. This New Year’s, I re-learned that lesson. Today, I'm going to share a bit of my own story.

Working less and doing more has never been how I make my living. From 1999 to 2009, I was an executive coach and consultant, first working with high-growth entrepreneurs and later with business leaders of all sorts. Getting more done was one small piece; it gave people the time to work on the Big Stuff.

Then this podcast show vastly exceeded expectations. I spent two years writing Get-it-Done Guy's 9 Steps to Work Less and Do More and creating information products around personal productivity. But it hasn't felt fulfilling. This New Year’s, Samantha Horn, a communications expert and organizer of the Maui Writer's Conference sat me down and taught me 3 things that changed my life:

Tip #1: Live and Work On Purpose

"Stever," she said, "I read your book." Uh, oh. A conversation that starts out like that can't go anywhere good. "In your first chapter, you discuss living on purpose." I do. I tell readers how to find the purpose they think their current actions are filling by asking “Why?” And that’s what Samantha did. She asked "Why did you work with entrepreneurs and leaders? Why did you launch Get-it-Done Guy?"

Simple. I love helping people do great things. Entrepreneurs and leaders do great things. Get-it-Done Guy is a way to express my creativity. But the productivity products I developed were just a way to make money. There's no passion there.

"Well, then?" she said. Ok, Sam. Point taken. If what I love is helping people do great things, why not do that directly? So this year, I'm refocusing my business on helping people live extraordinary lives—whatever that means to them. I'll take a small number of clients and work closely with them to find and implement their big dreams.

And you can do the same. What are the goals that drive you in your life? Rather than making a resolution, spend some time asking why you do what you do. The answer will help you uncover your deepest motivations. Then you can recraft your life around them.

If you don't own my book, never fear. (Unless a zombie army is scrambling towards your house, in which case fear is an appropriate response.) Check out the free downloadable copy of chapter 1, Live on Purpose. It will guide you through the process.

Tip #2: Make a Promise That Will Stick

But Sam wasn't done. She pulled out a piece of paper and said, "What's the ask?" Excuse me? The what? "I'm just asking. What will you commit to do, and on what timeframe?" Oh, futz. Public commitments are powerful. If I opened my mouth I would have to deliver. It was decision time; I opened my mouth. I promised her my practice would be up and running by June 1st. I even got specific and said how many clients I would have, what we would be working on, and what my income would be.

How will I do it? I have no idea. But speaking the words immediately started reorienting my brain into get-it-done mode.

Then she delivered the coup de grace. "Well, then. Let's write that down and both sign it." I could hardly complain; she was just doing with me all the same accountability tactics I know and use with my own clients. But, you know, I'm the expert. I shouldn't actually have to do what works; it should just happen magically.

We wrote down and signed the promise.


About the Author

Stever Robbins

Stever Robbins was the host of the podcast Get-it-Done Guy from 2007 to 2019. He is a graduate of W. Edward Deming’s Total Quality Management training program and a Certified Master Trainer Elite of NLP. He holds an MBA from the Harvard Business School and a BS in Computer Sciences from MIT.