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  • Amina Aitsi-Selmi

The most commonly made New Year’s resolutions and why doing less is more.

Ever wondered what other people’s New Year’s resolutions are? Bearing in mind that £37million is wasted on unused gym memberships in the UK and that most people have given up on exercise by January, it may not be encouraging to know. But awareness of the odds against you might increase your likelihood of success.

[Read on or watch the video below]

A YouGov poll last year found that the most commonly made (and broken) New Year’s resolutions are:

  1. Losing weight (48%): Particularly popular after putting on some holiday weight

  2. Getting more exercise (41%)

  3. Saving more money (32%)

  4. Eating more healthily (37%): With so many diets and recommendations it’s difficult to know how these days. A good rule of thumb is to see food as nourishment rather than distraction or comfort.

  5. Pursuing a career ambition (15%)

  6. More time with family (14%)

  7. Learning something new (11%): Learning a new language or skill requires time and effort so momentum can dampen once the initial enthusiasm of novelty has worn off..

  8. Decorating/renovating home (11%)

  9. Cutting down on drinking (9%)

  10. Cutting down on social media/Facebook (7%): Also known as getting over your dopamine addiction.

  11. Volunteering /charity work (6%)

  12. Quitting smoking (4%): Only about 15% of people who try to quit remain cigarette-free after six months…

  13. Raising money for charity (2%)

Think about whether any of these are on your list for 2019. Have they been on your list before?



There’s a story in the coaching lore of Warren Buffett (the down to earth billionaire) responding to a request for career coaching from his highly competent airplane pilot.

Warren Buffet gives him a 3 step process:

Step 1: Write your top 25 career goals. Step 2: Circle the top 5. Step 3: Warren then asks the pilot what he’s going to do with the remaining 20 goals. The pilot replies that they’re still important so he’ll fit them in where he can, to which Warren replies that this would lead him to certain failure. He advises him to create a second list: the “avoid at all costs” list where the other 20 goals would stay until he’s accomplished the top 5.

Our minds and bodies function at their best with the optimal level of stimulation where the challenge matches the skills while allowing for growth.

If you fudge your goal-setting with too many objectives, your mind won’t be able to prioritise, focus and implement with enough recovery time between tasks.

What’s more, the extent of change you’re asking your brain to compute will freak out your amygdala once you get started and it will activate the “sabotage and procrastinate” programme.

An additional three of tips for sticking to your resolutions:

- Pick goals that are inspiring for you to just think about (not too big and not too small but growth promoting with a sense of “Hell Yes!”) Connect with the emotions and deeper why. Saying “I want to eat more healthily” has a different emotional resonance to “I want to nourish and sustain my body to fulfil my mission or be a role model to those I care about”.

- Live your goal every day. Goals are not the same as responsibilities. Goals are ways to discover yourself and become more of who you truly are. It’s who you become as you engage in them wholeheartedly that matters the most.

- Set up your environment for success. If you don’t spend enough time on creating conditions that facilitate your goal (time, support, relationships, physical environment) your willpower will soon run out and you’ll give up.

So if you’re going to make New Year’s resolutions for 2019, pick your top 1 to 5 inspiring goals (depending on the magnitude of each goal) and let go of all the rest until you’ve achieved them.

Here’s a process I shared on Wise Wednesdays last year.


You’ll be surprised how efficient you can become and how much you can achieve through focused minimalism with a dash of inspiration.

Over the past two years or so I’ve had the highest quality of life I’ve ever experienced with much lower activity levels. My productivity is still high and my creativity has gone through the roof. This is because the extra spaciousness I’ve allowed myself (my brain and body) means I can prioritise better: I can see more clearly and feel my intuition better. I’ve also found that operating in alignment with my deepest values and vision, including saying “no” when something isn’t in alignment, means I’m energised (rather than drained) from the things I end up doing.

Legend in the Making: A number of my clients are NHS Consultants. One of them specialises in extremely complex mental health patients at a national centre of excellence. When we started working together, she felt that she didn’t have enough time to do what she really wanted or indulge in self-care due to work pressures. We identified and found ways for her to cut back on high stress-low value activities and prioritise energising, high value ones. This freed up enough time to redesign a part of her service in a significant way that will make it more efficient and beneficial, collaborate on exciting projects that will raise her profile as a leader in her field as well as explore new creative avenues in and outside work - all while consistently hitting the gym. Go Dr!

Here’s to your doing less while achieving more of what you truly care about in 2019! Have a great week, Amina

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