Josh Irby

Live from Sarajevo

What it will take to keep your New Year’s Resolution in 2015

The statistics are not encouraging. 92% of people fail to see their New Year’s Resolution through to the end. Most bow out before Valentine’s Day. What can you do to make it to December?

Here’s what helps me.

Photo by Dave Carter

Photo by Dave Carter


Most resolutions fail before the apple even drops. Why? Because it is one more thing to do. It is one more addition to our already busy lives. I don’t know anyone who sits around thinking, “Man, I’ve got too much time on my hands. I need to find a way to be busier.” And yet, that is what most resolutions are.

Perhaps it is the rush of new year energy, or the champagne, but we are invigorated by the possibilities of a New Year.

This year we will lose weight.
This year we will write more.
This year we will travel.
This year we will learn a new language.

The possibilities are endless and their scent is intoxicating. But—and it is a big “but”—the intoxication of a new year is not enough to carry you through 365 days. You need more.

If your resolution is simply duct-taped to your already busy life, you will not succeed. In other words, keeping your resolution is not only about what you will do, but what you will stop doing to do it.

Cut an hour of TV to add an hour of exercise.
Cut an hour of evening malaise to add an hour of morning writing.
Cut Starbucks to by a plane ticket.
Cut a committee chairmanship to join a Spanish class.

You have to cut to add. You have to focus to succeed.

For more on focusing, check out my recent post: Maybe You Should Quit.


Clearing space for your new resolution is not enough to make it until next January. It makes success possible, but it doesn’t guarantee it. There is still resistance to deal with.

Every noble work, every positive change, every self-improvement is a vertical climb. You need Grit to make it to the end.

Grit is a hard-headed determination, a stubborn resilience, a refusal to quit. It moves with unstoppable glacial force. It does not lose hope at the first sight of blood. It sees short-term sacrifice as future gain. Grit is the character trait of the 8% who accomplish their resolution each year.

If your GQ (Grit Quotient) is low, don’t worry, it is a learnable trait. For more on growing in Grit check out Five Characteristics of High Grit People or, if you want an even clearer picture, download my short story True Grit’s Guide to a Grittier More Successful Life.


There is one more essential element to a successful 2015. You won’t make sacrificial changes (Focus) or endure discomfort (Grit) if you don’t have hope for the future. As Emily Dickinson put it, “Hope is a thing with feathers / That perches in the soul / And sings the tune without words / And never stops at all.” Let the bird sing.

You can change. You can grow. Our world is not a fatalistic war zone but a playground for the brave at heart. So be bold.

And not just for yourself, but of the rest of us too. We (the world) need you at your best. We need your contribution—your unique role on this Earth—because if you don’t do it, no one will.

If you need a pep-talk to start 2015, make sure you download and read my visual manifesto, A Letter to You from the Rest of the World. I hope it will fill you with hope.

So, what is your resolution this year? Share it in the comments below.

Open Letter Cover 2

If you liked this post, then consider joining the community here at JoshIrby[dot]com. Just for joining, I will give you my recent visual manifesto, An Open Letter for You from the Rest of the World, for FREE.

Plus, you will receive regular blog updates and exclusive newsletter content.

"I love Josh's writing. Big things to come from him." —Jeff Goins

About Josh