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Deliberately setting smaller, incremental resolutions and goals within a shorter timeframe increases the probability of success.

At some point, most people make some form of New Year’s resolutions. While some make resolutions in a formal fashion by writing them down and sharing them with colleagues, friends or family, others just formulate a private expression of what they would like to achieve in the New Year. While it is true that any day is a good day to start on a course of self-improvement, January 1 seems like the most logical time and place to start.

Making a resolution (or setting a goal) is a great way to energize personal and business improvement. Research from the University of Scranton shows that people who explicitly make resolutions are 10 times more likely to achieve their goals than people who don't explicitly make resolutions. Furthermore, the research confirms that nearly one-half (46 percent) of those who make resolutions keep them for six months. Unfortunately, the 46 percent is a substantial drop-off from the 75 percent of those who maintain their resolution for one week; the 71 percent who keep them for 2 weeks; and the 64 percent who keep them for one month. Conversely, it is also true that only 8 percent of those making resolutions actually achieve their stated goal. Why?

Another statistic found in the research may help answer this question. Although only 8 percent achieve their resolution fully, approximately 49 percent experience partial success. This means that nearly one-half of those who make resolutions experience some degree of success, but ultimately fall short of achieving the overall goal. Based on this information there are three takeaways that can help any person increase their success rate in achieving their New Year’s resolutions and reaching their goals. While these strategies may not produce “knock it out of the park” wins, they can definitely jumpstart the process and increase the likelihood of accomplishing more.

The first takeaway from the research is that making a resolution or setting goals is 10 times better than not doing so at all. While the resolution doesn’t have to relate to the New Year, it is worth repeating that if individuals consciously and deliberately set goals, they increase their chances of success tenfold.

The second takeaway is to set a smaller incremental goal instead of a big all-inclusive goal. Let’s say, for instance, that a business owner wants to increase sales by making more sales calls. Instead of making a resolution to make five sales calls a day for the entire year, it may be more beneficial to set a goal to make 40 sales calls during the month of January. Then, when the smaller goal is achieved, on February 1, a larger—more substantial—goal can be set, fueled by the momentum of the previous month’s success.

The final takeaway is to set shorter-term goals. Remember, 46 percent of those who make resolutions are able to maintain them for at least six months. Therefore, success is much more likely to occur within a shorter timeline. Let’s say that same business owner also has a goal to pay off $10,000 of business or personal debt. Instead of making a resolution to eliminate the debt over the course of the year, he or she might consider making a resolution to eliminate $2,000 of the debt by April 1st—increasing the likelihood of seeing the effort all the way through to the end—and then repeating the process and creating a positive outcome. A final factor in achieving success is accountability; sharing a written goal or resolution with a trusted adviser to help you stay on track.

The process of making, keeping, and achieving New Year’s resolutions is an inexact science. However, the results can boost and turbo-charge success for the upcoming year. Whether set on January 1 or any other date in the year, the potential to move closer to your visions and dreams is well worth the risk of coming up short. To learn more about the resources available to help your business grow, visit and follow the conversation online using @TheInstituteNC.