Over 100 million Americans resolve to make a change in the new year, and most of them fail. For busy managers and executives, work is a big reason why.

It’s pretty obvious when you think about it. Business travel ramps up after the holidays, torpedoing diets with client dinners and banishing inspiring exercise plans to padded little rooms on the hotel’s second floor. Emails flood in, distracting from phone-free family dinners and date nights.

Sure, it is easy to blame those resolution failures on the difficulty of work-life balance. But sometimes work-life balance can actually be about using work skills to bring balance into your life. And there’s a skill you use at work every day that can totally change the resolution game.

Decisions Happen, Resolutions and Goals Don’t

A lot of advice about how to achieve your resolutions comes from theories about setting business goals. The idea is if you make your resolutions more like specific and measurable business goals, then you are more likely to achieve them.

That advice is a particular type of baloney. I call it “grass-fed baloney.” It is objectively better than regular baloney, but it’s still baloney. Here’s a baloney advice explainer chart:

Type of Advice Results
Regular Baloney 10% follow through on resolutions
Grass-Fed Baloney 30% follow through on business goals
Grass-Fed Steak 90% follow through on business decisions

It’s true. We are three times more likely to follow through on business goals than resolutions. That’s a real improvement. But the real truth is that most of the time we still don’t follow through. The same types of issues that torpedo our personal resolutions step in and destroy our business goals. Just think, how many times have you explained away a missed goal because you had to fight a fire somewhere else? It’s not that different from taking those work calls from the movie theater with your spouse.

But there’s hope. We are nine times more likely to follow through on business decisions. That’s meaty on different level, as you can see from my chart. In fact, when it comes to decisions, we almost always follow through. So why aren’t we all making decisions all the time?

Because, like most secrets worth knowing, this one comes with a price.

  

If You Can Decide, It Will Happen

Resolutions are fun. For a few days we get to live in a fantasy world where, with almost no effort, we’re thin, healthy, happy, friendly, loving and well-rested.

And yet here’s the painful truth: Resolutions require almost no work upfront, but they require incredible willpower to achieve…and apparently less than 10 percent of us have that much willpower. So making resolutions is really just an easy way to get a 90 percent guarantee of feeling guilty in the future.

Decisions are work. We have to make a choice, accept trade-offs, put in effort.

But here’s a more uplifting way to look at it: Decisions require a little effort upfront, but then it’s like they happen automatically. It actually takes incredible willpower to stop following through on a decision once we make it.

Five Steps to Better Decision-Driven Resolutions

Managers and executives make more significant decisions in one year than most people make in their lifetimes. We discovered this simple fact during early design research for Cloverpop, our online app designed to improve decision-driven work. We found that the most successful decision-makers follow a consistent decision making checklist. And the same approach can applied to your New Year’s resolutions just as successfully.

Here is decision-driven checklist to make your 2017 New Year’s resolutions come true:

  1. Write down the three to five biggest reasons you are likely to fail. You can use a work euphemism and call them “challenges” if you want. This is something you do at work all the time when you’re on the hook to deliver against a goal. Business is a contact sport, and you gotta take the hard truths head on. For example, if you are trying to get fit, one “challenge” may be that you like to lounge on the couch watching TV with your favorite beverage in hand.
  2. Turn them into decisions. This step is easy. Just reframe each challenge like this, “What should we do about {challenge}?” For example, “What should we do about the fact that I drink a lot in front of the TV?”
  3. Assemble the decision team. Decisions don’t happen in a vacuum. Decisions change the world. Since the world will weigh in on your decisions one way or the other, you may as well get it involved early. That’s why decision-driven work is about teams. They share their perspectives, and you get their buy in. A good decision team includes people who can help, and people who will probably get in the way. For example, drinking in front of the TV most likely involves spouses, kids, and any close friends you spend time with while drinking, discussing TV, or both.
  4. Pause. Are you laughing or cringing at the idea of assembling the team? Then you are going to fail at your resolution, just like most people. So don’t set yourself up for failure. Pick a different resolution. Call it a strategic pivot. Or just resolve to be happy with life as it is…and bring me a beer, the game’s on.
  5. Make some decisions. Good, you’re still going! You’ve gathered the team’s perspectives, you’ve made some decisions, you’ve gotten their buy in. It’s tough, but forcing yourself to decide made it clear that you care less about drinking in front of the TV than you do about a great sex life or good sleep or generally just looking good and feeling great about yourself and the world. You’ve also just moved your chances of success from 10 percent to 90 percent. Nice work!

That’s tough, right? Well, decisions are tough. That’s why they work. But you’re tough, too.

Good luck with your decision-driven resolutions, and let us know how it goes. Happy New Year!

This article was originally published on Forbes. Read the original article.

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