New Year’s Resolution: A Stoic Approach

What if I told you that there is a secret in how to fulfill your New Year’s Resolution goals—not only for the year but for the rest of your life? If you are willing to put in the work allow me to guide you to the prize.

Here it comes, another years end, just days before you commence in the time old New Year’s tradition of making your resolutions. A tradition that a lot of us take part in because, well, quite frankly it is customary. Just as we treat many other holidays, we have gotten into the act of observing traditions partially, ignoring the entirety of what a tradition is truly about.

According to U.S. News, 80% of New Year’s resolutions will fail by the month of February. Although
this stat may seem like a dream stomper and totally says that the odds are against you, it also offers you a constructive perspective on two points:

  1.  You are not alone. You are not the only person in this world who cannot achieve that thing.
  2.  Each year you fail is an opportunity to try a new process. Through trial and error comes knowledge. What better way than to fine tune into yourself and your behavior.

What is a New Years Resolution?

So first, lets start from the bottom. Ask yourself: what does a New Year’s resolution mean to/for you? According to Wikipedia, a New Year’s resolution is “in which a person resolves to change an undesired trait or behavior, to accomplish a personal goal or otherwise improve their life.”

If you recognize that a New Year’s resolution is a vow that you make to yourself in improving your life—your whole life, then you will broaden your perspective in understanding that a lifestyle change does not happen overnight.

Some of the most common resolutions are eat healthier or lose weight/exercise, saving money or spend less, learn a new skill, quit an addiction, becoming more organized and spending more time with family.

As simple of all of those things may seem they just are not. In following through with such lifestyle changes, (do not kid yourself calling it a diet, it truly is a lifestyle change) you need to get realistic and get real on your expectations.

Some lifestyle changes are a lifelong process. Let go of the false notion of insta-gratification or immediate reward. True process and progress do not work that way. You are lying to yourself if you believe that good habits naturally follow strongly desired intentions. By approaching a goal as a process you are dismantling a goal part by part all the way to the foundation of the structure. As you reassemble, putting the right actions in the right order, you are equipping yourself with knowledge on how to polish your skills.

Change Your Mind Change Your Mindset

In 2010, Saeju Jeong and Artem Petakov launched the very popular and very successful weight loss program, Noom. This mobile platform based app has been called one of the worlds leading weight loss programs. If you haven’t heard of it then you might be thinking it is probably another diet trend or fad—but its not!  

Noom tackles the underlying issue, it gets to the core, it starts from the bottom to help you get to the top. Rooted in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Noom is a psychology-based program that helps their users to develop disciplinary skills that will lead them to make more reasoned choices and foster healthier habits.The end result is weight loss and the will to keep this change. It is a win!

My cofounder, Artem Petakov, and I wanted to tackle a big problem and make a real difference in people’s lives. We defined our mission before we created our first product – to help people everywhere lead healthier lives. There are tons of fad diets, cleanses, and quick fixes out there, but none of them work long-term.

Successful, long-term weight loss is hard. It’s less about “eat this, not that”, and more about tackling the relationship people have with food – why they make certain food choices or eat how much they do. Ultimately we wanted to tackle what everybody was failing to address: the psychology of health behaviors. We wanted to create a fun, engaging, effective, and most importantly, sustainable program to help people lose weight and develop healthier habits for life. This was the beginning of Noom.

Saeju Jeong -Noom

A Stoic Approach

The Stoics knew and recognized that our behaviors are determined based off of our emotions. Essentially, our thoughts are carried out into the experiences that we have in life. If our thoughts are no bueno—neither will be our responses. Now hit repeat.

Your mind will take shape of what you frequently hold in thought, for the human spirit is colored by such impressions

— Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Stoicism was framed around three practical disciplines.

  1. The Discipline of Assent (Perception) – the way we perceive life events to be
  2. The Discipline of Action – our response
  3.  The Discipline of Desire (Will) – the combination of all 3 disciplines. Our ability to accept fate, accept the outcomes and to keep going no matter what.

Self-mastery was the goal which would in turn cultivate resilience and cause a dramatic impact on the quality of our lives.

Inspired by Ryan Holiday’s , The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations on Wisdom, Perserverence, and the Art of Living, I have decided to use this as my approach to this New Year’s Resolution.

Do I want to lose weight—YUP! Do I want to save money—YAAAAASSS! Do I want to be the best mother, daughter, friend, sister, human being in the whole world—Fuck Yeah!

My New Year’s Resolution isn’t to achieve all of those things by the end of this year—it is to train in discipline, self-mastery, and self-control so I can be successful in all of those things throughout the rest of my life.

If you are willing to put in the work you can achieve all your goals too. Break it down in parts just as The Daily Stoic has done for you.

January – April

Train your perception: To change how you perceive situations so that you do not get stuck in a setback. Life happens and is usually what puts a big fat halt in our stamina. Document events, situations, things you perceive to be setbacks. Observe how they affect your mindset thus slowing down progress. Learn your triggers.

May – August

Train in Action: With your new pair of eyes, make the right response. Your boss pissed you off, the kids got on your nerves…let it be a moment. Pause. Use your wisdom from perception in leading you to make the right action. Don’t let an event stop you from doing the right action that leads you to your goal.

September – December

Train in Will: Motivation only lasts so long. Even with a new outlook, combined with the strength to make the right action, if an outcome is unfavorable to you, you can easily be discouraged. To master your willpower is to learn to accept fate. Life happens…don’t let external events stop you no matter what the outcome is. Find another way, another route, but keep going.

The secret in fulfilling your New Year’s Resolution is to change your approach. Do not let yourself fall into the 80% statistic this year. Resolve to change your behavior now, and reap the benefits for a long time and many New Year’s to come.


Follow me on Instagram as each month I break down the disciplines into finer parts. January = Clarity

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