Still time to make New Year’s Resolutions and KEEP THEM - Use Building Blocks!!

January 17, 2024

Have you completed your New Year’s Resolutions? If so, what do you think your likely chances of success for accomplishing them? (The national average is 80% failure). Perhaps you’re no longer making NY Resolutions because you don’t get them done. The key for keeping resolutions is not simply making them, but rather to focus on the process to keep them.

Over the holidays, while I was running, I listened to a podcast of Dr. Peter Attia speaking with James Clear, author of NYT Bestseller “Atomic Habits.”  Mr. Clear believes that success comes from stacking simple, easy habits, one on top of the other, to create momentum and overall change.


Here are 15 Top Building Blocks for Making Changes from Mr. Clear:

1. Change has three layers: Outcomes, processes, and identity (what do you want to be?).

2. Building Good Habits has four basic rules. For example, starting a running program:

  • Make it obvious - put your running gear next to the bed so when the alarm goes off, you’re up and out.
  • Make it attractive - combine it with something you like, such as a podcast.
  • Make it easy - start with a very short distance, not the eventual target distance.
  • Make it satisfying - perhaps a snack afterwards.

3. Getting Rid of Bad Habits. For example, eating the wrong things:

  • Stop buying them.
  • Reframe the activity in your mind as a habit with bad connotations.

4. Recognize that Immediate Outcomes are not the Long-term outcomes.

  • The Immediate outcome of forming a good habit is likely bad - it hurts, takes time, takes energy.
  • Immediate outcome of a bad habit likely feels good - how about another Krispy Kreme donut?
  • Long-term - Bad habits produce bad results in the future - good habits produce good results in the future.
  • Today’s results are lagging indicators of our habits in the last six months.

5. Our cave dwelling ancestors focused on survival and energy conserving instincts.

  • Our brain comes hardwired to believe the simple, easiest, and most immediate positive outcome is best.
  • However, once we’ve formed a habit, our brain helps us then to continue to behavior based on the new habit.

6. Start slowly and build momentum.

  • For example, instead of running a mile, run 300 yards to start.
  • Go to the gym for 5 minutes, not an hour. Have success and then build on it.

7. It’s not easy to have success, it’s easy to fail. Per James Clear, “We don’t rise to the level of our goals, we fall to the level of our systems.”

8. Rework your environment to support your goals.

9. Combine your habits. For example, walk when talking with friends.

10. Make sure to get regular short-term positive feedback.

11. Set monitoring at appropriate spaces. For example, if you are trying to lose weight, don’t weigh yourself every day, but once a week.

12. Push yourself, but not too hard. Research shows that tasks that are 4% greater than our skills are in the “Goldilocks zone.” Neither too difficult nor too boring.

13. Identify your possible bottlenecks. For example, if you watch Netflix until midnight, you likely won’t be up at 6 to run or exercise. You may need to turn off the TV at 10.

14. Habits shift with the Seasons of Life. Per James Clear, “Every action we take is a vote for the kind of person we want to become.” Goals at ages 20, 35, 50, 65 and 80 will likely be very different. But the principles and processes to accomplishing them are the same.

15. Review James Clear’s list of “Meta-Habits.” These have the power to transform your life in a very significant way:

  • Sleep
  • Reading
  • Exercise
  • Nutrition
  • Emotional Regulation
  • Financial Discipline


Conclusion:  It’s only mid-January. Still time to make your New Year’s Resolutions. What habits would you like to change? Remember, if you consider and implement the 15 Top Building Blocks for Making Changes, you’ll have a good chance of seeing positive long-term outcomes, despite the likelihood of some short-term discomfort or pain. Good luck.



Detterbeck Wealth Management is a fee-only financial planning / wealth management company with offices located in Palatine, IL (Chicago area) and Charleston, SC areas serving clients locally and across the country. To contact us about setting up an appointment, please see our contact us page