Video: To Stick to Your Resolutions, Set Concrete Goals.

2011 Happiness Challenge: For those of you following the 2011 Happiness Project Challenge, to make 2011 a happier year — and even if you haven’t officially signed up for the challenge — welcome! This is the first week of the Challenge. (Usually these videos will appear on Tuesdays, but the holiday threw me off.)

The theme for this month is, appropriately, Resolutions: how to make effective resolutions and then, once you’ve made them, how to keep them.

This week’s resolution is to Set concrete goals.

If you want to read more about this resolution, check out…
13 tips for sticking to your New Year’s resolutions.
5 questions to help you make effective New Year’s resolutions.
The secret to keeping your resoutions: is there a magic formula?

What resolutions have you made? Have you found that making resolutions as concrete as possible made it easier to keep them — or not?

If you’re new, here’s information on the 2011 Happiness Challenge. It’s never too late to start! You’re not behind, jump in right now, sign up here. For more ideas for resolutions to try, check out the archives of videos here.

* Heard of the fabulous Six Word Memoir? I’m collaborating with Smith Magazine to do “Six words on the secrets to happiness.” You can add your six-word secret to happiness here — what’s your secret? (Tip: you’re more likely to be featured if you include a profile picture.) It’s creative, it’s thought-provoking, and it’s fun. I keep writing new ones.

* Please subscribe to my YouTube Channel. To get the weekly video by email, right in your email in-box, you can:
— On the GretchenRubin channel page, after you subscribe, click “Edit Subscription” and check the box, “Email me for new uploads.” Or…
— Go to your main drop-down box, click “Subscriptions,” find the GretchenRubin channel, click “Edit Subscriptions,” and check “Email me for new uploads” there.

  • Jill Quinn

    I love concrete resolutions!
    I felt like I whined too much last year, so my resolution this year was to think of something I was grateful for every night. To me, this is different from a prayer because it was something I was thinking of just for myself and not sharing with anyone. I picked right before I go to bed b/c that’s often the time that it is easiest to feel worried or whiny.
    That freed me up to be thankful for completely frivolous things like chocolate or my Kindle. I give myself permission to me thankful for as many things as I want, so long as I can think of at least one thing. And I can repeat whatever I want. I think I’ve been thankful for my husband and son every day so far 😉
    I’ve already caught myself doing it when I wake up in the middle of night b/c I find it a soothing way to fall asleep.

    • Ms G

      I have started to do exactly the same thing this year! My gratitude journal really helps me to focus on the good things in my life and helps me to worry less. With regards to this week’s resolution, I think concrete goals are hugely helpful. For example, rather than resolving to simply ‘drink less each weekend’ I now aim to ‘have no more than two glasses of wine’. When goals are concrete and measurable, I think we have a better chance of sticking to them.

  • I did not do resolutions this year – No matter how concrete I made them, I just never could stick to them.

  • The Red Angel

    My resolutions include becoming more patient, reading 24 books, taking better care of my skin, and writing 1 million words (it’s a writer’s challenge) . 🙂


  • I’m starting my own happiness project this month based on the themes followed in the book, but i’m setting my own goals. my most specific goal is to go to sleep by no later than 12:15am each night. My other goals are on my blog:

  • NewReader

    I am trying to finish your book for a book club and use your website. Thank you for taking the time to write the book and maintain the website.

    One of the problems my book club members have with both is the lack of organization with the messages in the book and the “clutter” on your website.

    If you do a 2nd edition of the book, you might want to pare it down to about 1/3 the size. We think it is way too long and repetitive.

    Your website is a bit overwhelming to plow through. Most blogs have very little on page one, tabs for archives, etc. You might want to consider. that.

    All the best from a new reader.

    • gretchenrubin

      Thanks for your suggestions. I give a lot of thought to making my blog
      simpler, and have taken various steps to pare it down a bit, but always
      decide that this way suits me better — but of course, it’s not everyone’s
      favorite approach.

      I hope your book group enjoys the book. I love book groups!

      • jenny_o

        To provide a different perspective, one of the things I like about your website is precisely that so many things are accessible from the home page 🙂

        Also, I could have happily read another half a dozen chapters if they’d been added to your book.

        Different people – different likes & dislikes. It takes all kinds to make the world.

    • Modernhousewivery

      That’s so interesting. I found the exact opposite. I could read a Happiness Project 2 and I felt that reading any quote or sentiment twice in the book helped etch it deeper in my brain.

      I also find what Jenny_0 said below to be true about their being so much to access on this blog.

  • earthgirl

    I have started my happiness journal. One or two lines of something that made me happy that day. Also adding a goal or concrete thing to work on in between based on the tips from you.
    I find this helps me feel more thankful for things and people and not take for granted the small stuff, like spending time with my husband, and do more of it because it’s important to do now not later.
    Your blog does have alot of stuff on it but I find it fascinating to go through it all and come back to it time and time again to read something else I didn’t have time for earlier, keeps me intrigued, thanks for putting all in!!!

  • Yes, something concrete is always easier to work toward. I like to keep that little voice from the Wii in my head: “measuring!…measuring!….measuring!….all done!”

  • Bluejay

    I think it is very helpful to try to make the resolutions as concrete as possible and as small, as “doable” as possible; “baby steps”.
    I still keep going on the overwhelm side because I keep adding and adding!! I try to catch myself adding too much and stop..maybe that should be a resolution!! In fact one of my goals is to work on less perfectionism, being more focused, “less is more” and I am trying to find different ways to work on that..and tada! the resolutions, whatever resolution is a perfect exercise in focusing!
    I believe the problem of the overwhelm is related to a search for balance. I really do need to have more stuff going on. Different things related to different areas of my life that all need attention. Can anyone relate to this and have any suggestions?

    I like that the blog is so multifaceted exactly becuase my mind works that way. At first it is confusing, but I found that if you start going through it slowly it’s so great that there is so much to read! you always find something new, or something to go back to.

    May I also say, Gretchen you do seem happier, more at ease, sunnier, in the last videos compared to the first?
    Have a happy year everybody!

  • Teressaxov645

     It is as important to stop doing things as to start doing more
    things. So many executives would increase productivity if they started
    looking at tasks to stop doing.

    I also like looking at what are the high-lights and low-lights of
    every year. A great way to learn from the low-lights and to focus and
    be grateful for the highlights.
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  • Keep up the good work. Everyone is opened to there opinion. Excellent blog here, i am still reading.

  • Congratulations on having probably the most sophisticated websites Ive run into in a few time!