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Want to keep your 2016 resolution? You’ve gotta do THIS!

Want to keep your 2016 resolution? You’ve gotta do THIS!
Laura Moriarity

It has been 11 days since we all made our resolutions for 2016.


How is it going?


Conversations I had with friends prior to the 1st of January ranged from “I stopped making resolutions because I never keep them” to “This is the year dammit, I WILL lose the weight!”

Now, just a few weeks back in routine I am already hearing “Well, I went to the gym last week, but this week things just got crazy and I didn’t make it.”

Sound familiar?


According to the research 75% of us that made resolutions do maintain them through the first week of January. However, by the end of the year it has dwindled to just 8%.

If we are serious about making change in our health, our relationships or our business, what can we do to be one of the 8% this year?

There are plenty of sound psychologically based suggestions to help, like:

Start small, instead of overhauling everything at once, make small achievable goals instead.


Limit your number of resolutions. One is good. It makes sense that trying to do too many things at once will end in nothing working out.


Make your resolution public. The theory is if enough people know about your resolution they will support you in your journey.


So, say we have our small, single, public resolution for the year…and I have been doing great eating nothing but chicken and asparagus (yay me!) for 11 days….and then one fateful night I find myself elbow deep in the peanut butter jar. What could I have done differently? Am I just weak, not cut out for resolutions?

The problem with our inability to keep these resolutions according to best-selling author Neil Strauss is that:

Making that resolution plunges your brain into an almost daily battle: Between a short-term reward and a long-term reward. 

And the odds are stacked against your resolution–because your brain is 100 percent certain that you will receive the short-term reward:

*That ice cream is going to taste good.

*Lying in bed is going to be easier than going to the gym.

*Spending that money is going to be easier and more fun than saving it.

*Not approaching is going to be safer than approaching.

The long-term rewards—a healthier body, a better physique, a new potential partner, a happier life—are uncertain.

This is exactly the battle I experience staring into the cupboard at midnight at the jar of extra-crunchy Jif.

Maybe your weakness isn’t extra-crunchy Jif, but chances are good your resolution has something to do with a behavior you have poor impulse control over. Your willpower has not been enough thus far. So, what are we all to do? Strauss says we are missing is a Ulysses strategy.

Remember in the story when Ulysses knows he will sail by the infamous sea Sirens? Even Ulysses, possibly the greatest hero of all time, assumed he would not be able to resist their song. So what did he do? He told his crew to tie him to the mast, stick wax in his ears and not untie him, no matter what.

He expected failure, and planned for it.


She knew she couldn’t resist extra-crunchy Jif at midnight, so she threw it away….then cried a little… 

The theory is that we all need to “Create a system to protect [us] from [our] lower selves.”


How does the Ulysses Strategy apply to goals you have set for your dental office?

Let’s say you have a very low internal referral rate and you want to build that this year. Of course it is easier NOT to ask patients for referrals because it is uncomfortable. But if you know you hate asking, then in the morning huddle identify the patients BY NAME that will be asked THAT DAY for a referral. Then set referral cards at the front desk for them to take home (also with their name on it). Then, set the expectation any cards left at the end of the day need to come to the next morning huddle…the team will be more likely to stick to the plan, knowing there is accountability.

Or, say you have a low appointment reminder rate and it is affecting your bottom line. Automate the reminders. Get a system that calls, texts and emails patients for you.

Maybe you are struggling with poor staff communication. Make morning meetings part of the required working time. Everyone shows up for work 30 minutes earlier or you schedule your first patient 30 minutes later in order to make time to discuss goals and expectations for the day.

If you are missing out on patient calls during evening or weekend hours when the team is out of the office, get an office cell phone. Rotate the phone between the team so someone is always answering calls in the evenings and on weekends.

The point Strauss so poignantly makes is that we suck at keeping resolutions. So, expect at some point you will need to protect yourself from choosing the short term gratification over the long term goal.

Like throwing away the peanut butter and letting everyone in the house know not to put it on the shopping list.

Let’s be part of that 8% this year, what do you say?

What are some of your 2016 resolutions? What will be your Ulysses strategy? Leave them in the comments below.

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