Leadership Tip

How to keep your New Year’s resolutions

January is an interesting time for behavioural science. Few things illustrate self-control as vividly as New Year’s resolutions. February is even better: we can study why so many of those resolutions are broken. But as well as identifying our weaknesses, behavioural science can help tie us to the mast of our noble intentions. Here are three tips.

  1. First, pre-commit. Negotiating with yourself on a constant basis takes mental resources and willpower. Deciding to avoid such negotiations by pre-commiting to a certain course of action can help. So if you want to eat more healthily, for example, buy your weekly shop in advance and decide only to eat what you buy. Don’t start thinking about what you’ll eat while you’re hungry.
  2. Second, make your resolutions accountable to others. You could place bets with your friends so that every time you get caught eating junk food, say, you will be punished by having to pay them money. There’s an of app to help: Commitment Contract by stickK allows you to set specific goals and specify monetary stakes that you’d hate to lose, such as donating money to organisations you don’t approve of.
  3. Finally, stay sane. Self-control is costly in terms of mental resources and exercising constant restraint is wearying. So when choosing goals, go with the ones that minimise the amount of self-control called for. Choose exercising over dieting, say. Exercising regularly does require willpower, of course, but unlike dieting it does not demand constant self-control.  As regular exercise becomes a habit, it requires lesser mental resources to keep yourself on track.

The above leadership tip...
was sent in response to a question from a participant on our 10/10 leadership development and mentoring programme. Whether you're a first time manager or an experienced leader, straightforward, practical advice on best practice is hard to find. Until now. To find out how you, your team or your organisation can benefit, please join us on our next complimentary webinar or contact us.


Free weekly email on things you didn't know last week with links to articles on leadership excellence. To view previous editions click here.

Learn how to lead effectively

Gleaned from wisdom acquired by working with hundreds of highly successful leaders from the world of business, media and sport, our workshops are fortified with practical tips to help you better lead yourself, your team and your business.

Read More

Leadership Articles

10 actions for mastering leadership

The key to truly effective leadership lies in mastering a wide range of skills from implementing and administering process to inspiring others to achieve excellence. To be an effective leader you need to make the most of opportunities to learn to lead,... read more

Leadership Tips

How to work with prickly personalities

People with low emotional intelligence, also known as EQ, are generally harder to work with - they can be grumpier, more negative, and more erratic than average. But a few tactics can help you collaborate with a low-EQ person: Be gentle. ... read more

How to recognise when you’re being too stubborn

Being stubborn isn’t always a bad thing. But if you’re standing your ground for the wrong reasons (like if you hate to be wrong), you’ll do more damage than good. Since it’s hard to recognise stubbornness in yourself, look out for these signs that you’re... read more

How to become a more respectful leader

Showing respect enhances a leader’s influence and performance - and a worldwide study found that it’s the leadership behaviour with the biggest effect on employee engagement. Yet many leaders struggle to show respect to their employees. To become a more... read more