What are your New Years resolutions 2

New Years Resolutions That Work: The Power of "If-Then"

Many people are familiar with the problem with new year's resolutions: there is a good reason, a desire and also a will to change something or to achieve something. - And then “life” often happens. The good resolutions are more and more covered by the hustle and bustle of everyday life and diverse distractions until they finally go under, mostly quietly and unnoticed.

In order to actually achieve New Year's resolutions, self-coaching techniques from professional business coaching can be used in two stages. The second stage with the so-called "implementation intentions" is the secret turbo for achieving the goals set in stage 1.

Stage 1 - Define your goal:
Set yourself a short, clear, easily understandable goal that is formulated positively and provide it with a date when the goal was achieved. Make sure that the goal is attractive and realistic at the same time and that you can achieve it yourself. It should therefore not be too easy, but also not too difficult to reach. The individually correct dose is shown when we feel very positively motivated and inspired by a goal and thus neither bored nor stressed or even overwhelmed.

Stage 2 - Create your if-then plan:
Make a journey into the future in your mind, towards the planned time of your goal achievement. Imagine in your mind's eye a typical future situation in which you react differently now than you did before in order to achieve your goal. Now imagine exactly how you will act and react when this situation occurs and how you will achieve your goal through it. Feel how positive it feels when you have achieved your goal through your changed reaction. Imagine your reaction and the achievement of your goals in your favorite colors and "live in 3-D" and enjoy the pleasant feeling of having made it.

As a result, you have now focused and prepared yourself on your successful goal achievement and you may be surprised how easy and well it works.

How can the success of this method be explained?
The positive effect of the so-called implementation intentions, named by the psychologist Peter M. Gollwitzer [1], has been proven by scientific studies: “If-then” plans significantly increase the probability of reaching a previously set goal [2], including the successful implementation of New Year's resolutions. This effect can be explained by the fact that the mental notion of if-then-reaction connections creates new neurological connections. These lead to the fact that in the future the process of the desired own reactions to previously defined trigger situations will run automatically, quasi as a preconscious or unconscious scheme.

We wish you every success in achieving your New Year's resolutions, formulated with the help of the Implementation Intention approach, and look forward to your experience reports!

Author: Julia Schwarzer-Wild, Wild Consulting GmbH, January 1st, 2021


[1] Gollwitzer, Peter M .: Goal achievement: The role of intentions. European review of social psychology 4.1 (1993): 141-185.

[2]Gollwitzer, Peter M., "Implementation Intentions - Strong Effects of Simple Plans," July 1999, American Psychologist