Know Yourself Better to Make Resolutions You're More Likely to Keep

When deciding on resolutions for a Happiness Project, it's easy to think we "should be able to" do it a certain way, or that we should imitate a resolution that works well for someone else.

But there's no one, correct way. It's just whatever works for us.

As you set up your resolutions, be sure to consider these distinctions, as outlined in the "Strategy of Distinctions" in Gretchen Rubin's book about habit change, Better Than Before.

As you decide the specific resolutions you’ll undertake, set yourself up for success by using this self-knowledge to tailor your approach.

Are you a Lark or Owl? 

During an ordinary day, at what times do you feel most productive, energetic, and creative? Research suggests that about 40% of people are "larks," 30% are "owls," and the rest are in between. This difference is largely determined by genetics and age.

Are you a Marathoner, Sprinter, or Procrastinator?

Especially for workplace habits, it's key to distinguish the pace at which people prefer to work, and how they respond to deadlines. Marathoners like to start early and work at a slow and steady clip. Sprinters prefer to work in quick bursts of intense effort close to a deadline. Procrastinators may look like sprinters, but they aren't; procrastinators delay starting, often out of anxiety, and work only once they feel the pressure of a deadline. (Sprinters are pleased with their work; procrastinators often think they could've done better, if they'd had more time.)

Are you a Simplicity-lover or Abundance-lover?

Simplicity lovers are attracted by an environment of "less," of emptiness, bare surfaces and shelves, few choices, a roomy closet. Abundance lovers are attracted by an environment of "more," of variety, collections, abundance, a full pantry.

Are you a Finisher or Opener?

Finishers love the feeling of bringing a project to completion, and they're determined to use the last drop from the shampoo bottle. Because they focus on their ability to complete, they may be overly cautious about possible new undertakings. Openers thrill to the excitement of launching a new project, and find pleasure in opening a fresh tube of toothpaste. They may be overly optimistic about their ability to complete a new undertaking.

Are you an Abstainer or Moderator?

When faced with a strong temptation, abstainers find it easier to avoid that temptation altogether rather than to try to indulge in moderation. By contrast, moderators do better when they indulge sometimes, or a little.

Are you an Under-buyer or Over-buyer?

Underbuyers dislike shopping and buying, and often delay making purchases of even necessary items. Overbuyers enjoy shopping and buying, and often lay in large stores of supplies, or purchase items that "might come in handy" or "would make a good gift."

As you're thinking about these distinctions, it can be helpful to ask, "When have I succeeded with this resolution in the past?" If, in the past, you exercised regularly, cooked frequently, got enough sleep, etc., that time that might hold clues for how you might be able to do a better job in the present.

When we know ourselves, we can set up a resolution in the way that's right for us. It's not that hard to keep our resolutions, and to change our habits—when we know what to do.

Know Yourself Better to Make Resolutions You're More Likely to Keep