5 Simple Questions that Work Better than Any Resolution

Just asking a few simple yet powerful questions easily beats the 94% failure rate of so-called “resolutions.”

Each year-end I set aside time to think about the past year and the year to come. And over the years I’ve found that just asking a few simple yet powerful questions gets much better results than making resolutions. (Which isn’t saying much: resolutions have a 94% failure rate.)

So I’d like to share five of my questions that could open up some new possibilities for you – whether having a more fulfilling year, reducing or quitting a negative behavior or thought pattern, or just gaining some fresh perspective on things.

How can five simple questions do that?

Because the right questions beget more insight and intention, helping us to stay focused on what’s most important, and steering us away from default behaviors or pursuits that don’t move us forward.

So I invite you to set a timer for 30 or 60 minutes with a pad and pen or keyboard, and spend some quiet quality time with these…

Q1: What Do I Want More Of?

As our Crusher™TV Members probably know, I’m fond of saying, “Screw resolutions! They don’t work. So let’s try some New Year’s SO-lutions!” My favorite of which is simply to commit to doing or having more of what you enjoy or love.

This could be activities, things – even time spent with certain people. Or as lifestyle guru Tim Ferris puts it:

“Any people or activities or commitments that trigger peak positive emotions.”

So, if you can think of even one thing that you love, that is joyful when you do it, it shouldn’t be too tough to go get more of that, right?

Beats the heck out of, “I promise I’ll quit doing this” or “I’m gonna be a better person” or “I’m gonna lose weight,” right?

Q2: What Do I Want Less Of?

What activities or people taxed your energy and spirit – triggered peak negative emotions? You deserve to have less of those in your life.

Maybe it’s a sore spot in a relationship that you’ve been tolerating. Or a negative habit you’d like to mitigate. Even just a “sub-optimal” thing you do that isn’t really serving you.

For example, my wife and I are wine lovers. But having a glass of wine nearly every evening is sub-optimal. While it’s not realistic that I’ll completely remove wine from my life (we’re kinda wine snobs), I do want less of its downside – it affects my sleep quality, takes a little longer for my brain to get cranking the next morning, etc.

Got a sub-optimal activity – or relationship? Make a New Year SO-lution to try and have less of that.

To help you do this, you’ll need to ask…

Q3: What’s the Why for the Sub-Optimal Behavior?

For any of our undesirable habits, crutches, time-wasters, etc., we need to ask…Why is that happening?

Example: If you’re spending more time than you know is healthy in social media or games on your phone, there’s definitely a reason why. It’s often just boredom, or fatigue or escaping from a difficult task. But we need to dive into that and understand the why before we can work to have less of it in our life.

Now, if you’ve identified something you want less of, are clear on the reasons it persists, and have decided to make a change…

Next, you need to ask…

Q4: What Am I Willing (and Not Willing) to Do to Change It?

Back to our wine thing: My wife and I are not willing to stop drinking wine. Yes, we’ll occasionally do a “cleanse” diet for 30 or 90 days, but we are not willing to completely remove the joy of great wines from our lives.

But what we are willing to do is have the following policy: We do not have a glass of wine unless it’s a weekend, a holiday, or we’re with friends.

So consider what might be a “personal policy” with regard to your sub-optimal behavior that you are willing to adopt.

To up your odds of maintaining any such policy…

Q5: What Would Happen if I Didn’t Change Anything?

Maybe you had a great year and feel that staying the course will yield yet another great year. If so, congrats, and I support you! But most of us do want to make changes and yet face resistance to that change.

Asking yourself, “What will result if I just keep doing the same things?” and then dimensionalizing the result (really thinking it through and envisioning your situation and feelings a year from now) can weaken that resistance.

In Closing: It’s All About Intention and Action

These questions are about intentionality and action. When we thoughtfully intend things, we are less likely to just do whatever pops in front of us, or as one of my Coaches Mastermind members puts it, “…letting the world choose for me, instead of me choosing what I want.

Then the real magic happens when that intention begets directed action: It’s not enough to have a desire and make a declaration to change. We need to make new “personal policies” (credit to Gretchen Rubin) for the path forward.

What will be your new policies (that you’re willing to abide by) for the coming year? I’ll see you on the road to our goals!



P.S.: Have you ever thought about coaching, but assumed it’s too expensive? I invite you to consider weekly Group Coaching – a way to work directly with me in a group of no more than six like-minded people battling the same battles you are. If you’re even 1% curious, grab a spot on my calendar, and let’s chat.


Therese Phillips

These five questions are so simple yet they are so crucial to living a responsible life. These questions all forced me to have a serious talk with myself, and really decide my priorities. Of course, my health, and my families health came first, then other needs and after that I was able to put in my wants. Thank you for this framework. Happy new year!

Alan Brown

Thanks for the positive feedback and for being inspired to take some action. I’ve been working these and other questions (re: personal as well as business) for the last couple days, as I do every year-end, and I’m getting great breakthroughs.

Here’s wishing you lots of breakthroughs from these q’s and for the remainder of the year!!! -apb


Alan, I like the way you always seem to take a different approach than the usual. The first question made me stop and think right away. The third question is the reality check that will make me look internally – which I usually avoid. Probably there in lie many of my issues;). But the fifth question is good because I don’t want to be in the exact same place this time next year. Time to be intentional!


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