Alternative Resolutions: Start Small & Fail Fast

Why You Should Give Up On Your New Years Resolutions And Focus On Daily Success Instead

Achieve Your Goals By Giving Up
January 19, 2015 Steve Moraco

“I think in terms of the day’s resolutions, not the years’.”

Henry Moore

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Our Goals Are The Problem

The biggest obstacles to our success this year are the goals we have just set for ourselves. It takes a year to truly fail at a new years resolution, and that is no pace at which to grow.

The following post is advice to myself. I have an ongoing Project 365 which I have neglected for half a week because I forgot to set up daily routines. I will try to learn from my own advice, and I hope you find it helpful as well.

Solution: Let’s set resolutions we can fail at each day.

This post will give us the tools we need to set resolutions that will actually help us reach our goals by resolving to do something silly, simple, and easy every day.

My personal growth motto is “fail fast.” An acquaintance who had just survived a heart attack at age 40 once told me to fail fast. He explained to me how this single idea changed his whole life once he realized how little time he might have. I haven’t forgotten that advice.

How do we fail fast? We set goals that we can accomplish fast. I don’t mean to set small goals. Instead, set up small daily routines that lead to long-term achievements. When failure inevitably happens, it is a small opportunity to learn instead of a massive, discouraging defeat. Tiny versions of our routines will help us learn instead of feeling bad.


  1. Small, Fun, Daily Habits
  2. Examples
  3. Why Silly Habits Work So Well
  4. 3 Keys To A Mindset Of Daily Practice
  5. What Will Your Mini Habits Be?

Effective Overhaul

If you really want to change your life, you can’t just expect to overhaul it. Motivation will never last (as you may have figured out as well, now that we’re 20 days into January), and your old habits will always be there.

Thankfully, there’s a cheat code. Set miniscule habits. Make your goal for each day something laughably small.


  • If you want to get fit, you do one pushup a day.
  • Practice being curious about someone else’s life for a minute a day.
  • If you want to make traveling a lifestyle, you go on one small adventure every day.
    (If you learn to find adventure all around you, you’ll never stop traveling.)
  • If you want to be a life long learner, you look up one new tip, trick, technique, fact, or TED talk every day.

Would you rather do something ridiculously easy and succeed each day, or set an inspirational goal like “lose 50 pounds” and never start? That’s what I thought.

So set your big goal but don’t hold yourself to it. Hold yourself to a small habit version of your big goal. Find inspiration in your dreams, and find practical progress in your baby habits.

If you can’t do your new tiny habit in a minute it’s too big. If you still find yourself putting it off when it’s a minute, make a 5 second version. The sillier the better. Set that one new habit, then set a trigger. That means you decide to do it after something you already do every day. This will help you remember, and it will help it form into an actual habit instead of just a daily practice.

Me? I make coffee right after my alarm goes off (rather, I promise I’ll start the coffee. Some mornings I just go to bed and never get farther than that, but those mornings are rare.) You probably have a few mini habits already you haven’t even noticed.


Why Silly Habits Work

Because this process sounds silly you never scare yourself out of it. It works. There are links at the end of this post to researchers and authors who have validated this process and made entire courses about it.

Now you know why change is possible, and you’re set to start failing fast on the path to your goals. Focus on enjoying the process of success instead of waiting for some end result.

I want to empower people to live the lives they truly want. I’m happier when the people around me are happier. This is the best way I know how to make permanent (and immediate) behavior change.

3 Keys To The Daily Practice Mindset

Radical behavior change is possible. The most important part in your journey is your mindset because it enables you to try even if it seems impossible, and also fail, but learn from it on your way to success.

Here are the three main keys to that mindset:

1. Persistence is the alternative to feeling bad for failing the first few times and giving up, like most do.
2. Following your dreams becomes easier as you begin to see yourself as someone who works at their dreams daily.
3. Whatever struggles you’re having, someone has had them before you. If you’re willing to figure out the right questions to ask, you’ll find your answers.

After that, it’s a matter of starting one small daily habit to set everything in motion. These small habits keeps the pain of failing from being overwhelming, and makes failure easy to recover and learn from quickly.

Start now and fail fast. The rest is the joy of the process. Below you’ll find ways to apply this right now and links to several of my favorite articles about behavior change and mini habits. Happy adventuring.

Haha! (Click here to tweet it.)

“Good resolutions are like babies crying in church. They should be carried out immediately.”
-Charles M. Sheldon


Don’t Stop Now

Below is a section to help you turn your current resolutions into daily habits.

What You Can Do Right Now

What are your current resolutions? What form are they in? Far off goals? List them below:

Now, rewrite them into something you can do before today ends:

Awesome. Now copy them, get ready to paste, and click here to share these on twitter. That’s it. You’re set to go.

For extra points, if you have an iPhone just tell Siri to “remind me to [your goal here] every day” – boom. Now you have daily reminders for your new resolutions. Awesome.

I hope this helps you make the rest of this year fantastic.

If you want to dig deeper, here are my favorite blog posts & resources regarding systems, mini habits, and resolutions:

Live Your Legend’s Yearly Goal Setting Workbook

Stephen Guise (author of Mini Habits) Mini Habits post for The Tiny Buddha Blog.

James Clear writes about Systems Vs. Goals and Identity Based Habits

Stanford Behavior Researcher B.J. Fogg’s Tiny Habits Free Course

I’ve decided to just upload my picture of the day to every day after I do my morning routine, and keep a stack of photos edited a week ahead of time! It’ll just take a second to do every day. If I happen to do all the rest of the social media sharing, that’s just icing on the cake for my daily habit. ^_^ By the way, you can check out the pictures I used in this post on my Project 365. They were Day 14, Day 12, and Day 8.

If you found this helpful and you have a friend who is struggling with their resolutions, feel free to share this post! 😀

Author, photographer, doer of other stuff, too. Learn more here. Or follow him on twitter.


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