New Year’s Resolutions Don’t Work. Here’s What Does

Think back to last year really quick.

Did you accomplish all your New Year’s Resolutions?

If you didn’t, don’t feel bad…you’re not alone.

Research shows that a staggering 92% of us fail to achieve our New Year’s Resolutions.

As a professional coach, it makes me wonder…

what are the other 8% doing?

I dedicated the last year to figuring that out.

I studied some of the most productive and focused people in the world who I imagined were in the 8%: billionaires like Richard Branson, Elon Musk, and Steve Jobs…masters of money like Warren Buffett and Paul Tudor Jones…and men who have deeply investigated the mind and spirit, like Thich Nhat Hanh and His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

I also studied the “everyday heroes” that are successful but not famous, the small business owners, Fortune 1000 CEOs, accountants, stay-at-home dads, single moms…

Can you guess what I found?

The most calm, focused & productive among us all share certain habits of mind.

Forget about New Years’ Resolutions. What does it take to be productive & focused the whole year through?

These people have figured it out.

They move through the day with poise, staying present, calm, focused (and even creative) while managing jobs, families, and hobbies.

Some of them have 5 kids. Some of them take long bike rides on the weekends. They have happy marriages.

These are the people I wanted to be learning from.

I asked myself:  “How do they think about life that allows them to be so productive, to shut out distractions, and to get everything done?”

Then, once I had answers, I brainwashed myself into holding those same habits of mind.

The results were good.

So good that I’ve sharing these attitudes with anyone who asks.

Now I want to share them with you.

Consider it a way to get your next year kicked off right.


  1. Mindset I: time is more important than money.
  2. Mindset II: he who learns fastest, wins.
  3. Mindset III: don’t let your emotions drive your actions.


Time is more important than money.

Most people will go to great lengths to make money, but think nothing of wasting time.

If you really think about it, this makes zero sense: you can always earn more money, but there’s no way to earn more time.

(Okay, maybe eating your vegetables and quitting smoking could give you a few more years.)

Time is the only resource that we all have in common.

Whether you’re Richard Branson or a penniless pauper, you will always and only have 168 hours in a week.

In fact, here’s what Felix Dennis (owner of Maxim magazine and at one point the UK’s 2nd richest man after Richard Branson) had to say about time:

“There are only two things in life apart from health and love worth fussing about. Time. And the option of not having to be in any particular place on any particular day doing any particular thing in order to pay the rent or the mortgage.”

Well said, Felix.

What’s important is not only the quantity of time, but the quality of our attention across the hours…and how you choose to invest those hours to create the life you want.

Case in point: using this attitude, one of my colleagues negotiated a 60-day paid vacation instead of a bigger raise. (She used the time to hike the Camino De Santiago in Spain with her dad.)

If you’re in a job, always put “time” on the table in your salary negotiations.

If you’re an entrepreneur, you know well that time is the most precious resource you have – and you know if someone can offer you a way to leverage your time, you jump at the chance.

Elon Musk, billionaire co-founder of PayPal and currently running two billion-dollar companies (SpaceX and Tesla Motors), has this to say about effectively leveraging time:

“Work hard, every waking hour…particularly if you’re starting a company. If somebody else is working 40 hours per week and you’re working 100, you’ll be able to accomplish in 4 months what takes them a year.”

That’s nice for Elon, but few of us can sustain 100-hour workweeks. This makes it even more important to use our time wisely.

Given the maximum number of productive hours we can muster per week, what is the most important job for us to accomplish?

And how can you protect the quality of those hours, say when you’re with your family?

I have this image hanging above my desk:

For most of us, if we protected our time as closely as we protect our money, we’d probably accomplish twice as much in half the time.

Don’t take my word for it. Try it out for yourself.

When I started applying this principle, I was able to:

  • Write 10,000 words in one day
  • Publish my first book
  • Double my team’s results in 90 days
  • Save my company $10,000 in annual training costs

But who cares about that: what’s possible for you?

– What task or hobby have you been putting off so long it’s in danger of slipping into the dust-bin of history?

– What family member or important relationship have you been neglecting, in quantity or quality of time?

– What change in your health or wellness has the potential to totally change your quality of life in 2015?

How long are you going to make yourself wait to be the man you know you can be?

He who learns fastest, wins.

In military strategy, there’s something called an OODA loop.

The OODA stands for Observe – Orient – Decide – Act.

(This concept was coined by USAF Colonel John Boyd, the “father of the F-16.”)

General Dynamics F-16

The basic idea is, if you can go through this loop faster than your opponent — if you can observe, orient, decide, and act faster — you’ll have the advantage.

I learned this technique viscerally when training Muay Thai kick boxing.

In the ring, there’s always one fighter who is setting the tempo of the fight. He’s making the decisions and adjusting faster than the other fighter. The other guy is responding to him.

Muay Thai kickboxers
This is an easy lesson to learn in the ring – when you’re getting kicked in the head repeatedly, you learn quickly.

Okay, but what has this got to do with productivity?
Here’s another suggestion from Elon Musk:

“I think it’s very important to have a feedback loop, where you’re constantly thinking about what you’ve done and how you could be doing it better. I think that’s the single best piece of advice.”
Elon Musk and his 5 boys
(I show Elon here with his 5 boys to demonstrate that he knows what’s he talking about.)

When you have a feedback loop, you’re constantly submitting your own results to scrutiny & modification.

What did I do? How did it work? How should I adjust? What should I do next?

It’s obvious we should be doing this more than once per year.

In fact, the most successful people I’ve studied do it daily (or even twice daily.)

Like Benjamin Franklin.

We know he did this because we have his diary (note left margin):

Ben Franklin's Daily Schedule

If it’s good enough for ol’ Ben, it’s good enough for me.

So do you have a feedback loop?

How often do you go through it?

What would it be like if you could upgrade your experiences, your orientation, and have a higher-quality perspective from which to act?

Getting a feedback loop had the most profound effect on my own productivity and life.

It was when I implemented my own daily feedback loop that I began seeing results in my corporate work.

This was a turning point for me. I felt slightly superhuman. I was able to get about four times more work done.

People noticed. Before, I was working 50+ hour work weeks. Shortly after, I was able to negotiate a 4-day work week (about 35 hours). Within 6 months, I had left the corporate world entirely.

It allowed me to rediscover my freedom.

I was finally able to enjoy an experience I hadn’t had since I was kid: the “Ahhh!” of total ease, relaxation, and freedom.

Here’s the even better news: you can have that experience, too.

Focus is a learnable skill. If you’re not currently experiencing that Zen-like level of mental clarity and fast learning, I’d want nothing more for you than to achieve it.

If this is an area you’re challenged by, ask yourself:

Are you willing to give yourself the opportunity to reach your goals?

Are you willing to make use of the tools that are made available to you?

Just imagine this scenario.

You rise to face the day calmly, knowing exactly what’s most important to focus on. today

You ignore email and other interruptions for 60-90 minutes until your most important work is done. With a feeling of satisfaction, you take a well-deserved break and think about your next most important priorities.

A colleague come up and asks, “How did you get that report done so fast?

You start getting emails like this:

You’re winning, period.

When you run your life like this, success is only a matter of time.

People have known about this trick for ages. I recently came across essentially the same technique in a book written more than 100 years ago:

“Every inefficient act is a failure, and if you spend your life doing inefficient acts, your whole life will be a failure. On the other hand, if every act of our life is an efficient one, your whole life must be a success…”
– Wallace Wattles, The Science of Getting Rich
It works like clockwork, and it will work for you.
That’s why here at FierceGentleman we’ve opened up our techniques for achieving liftoff in attention & focus: it’s called, appropriately enough, Focus, and you can enroll in this self-paced course for a fraction of the price of a college course or personal development seminar.

The people who join this program are going to learn not just theory, but also the most practical, scientifically validated techniques for mastering their attention & focus.

So, what would it be like for you to outperform your former self this next year?

What are you going to do with the concept of a “feedback loop” and the knowledge that the faster you can go through it, the faster you can learn, the higher your quality of results?

If there’s one thing I know, it’s that we have a hard time doing things that don’t feel good.

In this way, we are all slaves to our emotions.

Says one FierceGentleman reader:

“I am guilty of my productivity being a slave to my mood. There are some days I feel like no one can stop me and others where I just put things off. This is a trait I would love to change for the better.”
– Mark

Okay, but how do you change it?

Make Your Actions Determine Your Emotions 
(Not The Reverse)

“I don’t feel like going to the gym. I’m tired. It’s cold.”

We’ve all been there.

(In fact, I was there just last week.)

(Yes, even a guy like me, who lives & breathes self-improvement, has trouble getting up and going to the gym sometimes.)

Your emotions are going to want to keep you living in the status quo.

Even if things are currently less than optimal.

part of you wants you to be richer, healthier, happier, more joyful.

There’s an image of a SuperYou that you aspire to become.

Meanwhile, your emotions just want you to stay exactly where you are…because that’s what’s comfortable.

And the worst part?

Stagnation isn’t the worst thing that can happen…because of the rapid pace of change, standing still is actually sliding backwards.

If you let your emotions make your decisions in this way, you’ll lose more and more ground every year.

So, how do you ensure you don’t lose ground?

You have to train yourself to consistently take the most important actions, regardless of what your emotions tell you what to do.

You have to find ways to trick your emotions, and get them on your team.

One of my favorite methods is to say, “I’m just going to walk to the gym. I’m not going in.” 

I’ll lie to myself in order to get myself moving in the right direction.

When it comes to creative work, I’ll say: “Well, I’ll just edit this email, I won’t write a new one.” 

As stupid as it may seem, this works.

It’s among the most powerful techniques I’ve found to deal with our manipulative emotions.

Your emotions don’t want you to be a big success. They just want you to be comfortable.

And they’ll manipulate your beliefs with rationalizations (“rational lies”) in order to keep you stagnant.

In my view, you’re totally justified in manipulating back.

What these tricks will help you develop is a prejudice for unpleasant action

You want to train yourself to such a degree that going to the gym or working on your side business becomes automatic, despite how you feel about it.

If you start doing this, what you’ll find may shock you.

Your emotions will begin to conform to your actions.

You’ll start enjoying the unpleasant actions (lifting weights, eating healthy food, or whatever).

Your emotions won’t be running the show anymore, your habits will be.

Can you imagine how that would feel?  

Even Elon Musk has said of his motivation, “Motivation or inspiration doesn’t really come into it. You just…get it done.

If Elon only worked on his electric car and rocket businesses when he “felt like it”, odds are they wouldn’t be successful.

There are other techniques for gaining mastery over your emotions. In the Focus Course, I teach a powerful method of “Motivation Mastery” that allows you to connect to your deepest motivation anytime. You don’t want to rely on it, but it’s nice to have.

(You can click here to learn more and join.)

Those who join us in the Course are going to learn that, and much more.

Speaking of the Course, I thought I’d pull back the curtain a bit and share why I poured so much time and effort into developing this course.

It was to answer a need I was hearing from readers:

“I am very interested in the program and your methods of instruction as I seem to be constantly starved for time to get projects done. I fully know that focus is the biggest issue…

“What appears to be tripping me up is my lack of focus…the majority of my day online (aka: the land of distractions).”

So how does Focus answer this need?

I’ve designed it to give you the tools & methods you need to win back one extra hour a week (at least.)In testing, what we’ve found is that most Focus students got closer to 5-7 extra hours per week.

Is it really possible to free up that much time in your schedule?

For the answer, see this email from a Focus graduate, about 2 weeks after the Course ended:

“The answer is emphatically yes…this morning, as has been the case consistently for the last two weeks, I got up before my alarm went off at 5:45am and spent 40-60 minutes on a personal goal I am working on…”

I’m not going to say that result is typical…like everything, you get out of what you put into it.But if you’re someone who’s motivated to make a difference in your own life this year, and all you need is a framework to follow and some accountability & expert guidance, then Focus will work for you.

What would you do with extra time in your life?

Here’s what a few of you have told me:

“An extra hour per week would give me more time to start a new small business or find and create more ways to make extra money, independent from my job.” –A.

“With 5-7 extra hours, I can have more focus quality time with my family and bond with them individually…” -–O.

“I would love to focus every extra hour I gain back into starting my business so that I can one day free myself from the 9-5 grind. –M.

“I would use my extra hour to take a jiu jitsu class.” –P.

So what about you?

While you think about that, some of you may be wondering what exactly will be in this Course, so here’s the rundown.

The Focus Course will give you everything you need to succeed…


  • The theory you need to grasp the concepts
  • Real-life examples of how this Method has worked for others
  • Explanation of the logic behind the teachings
  • practical, step-by-step guide on how to overcome your obstacles with focus, productivity, & attention
  • A proven method to block out distractions
  • Strategies that will help you achieve laser focus any day of the week
  • My in-depth “Motivation Mastery” program that will allow you to tap into your own deep reserves of resourcefulness 
  • The complete system for building your own bulletproof habits so you won’t need to rely on ephemeral motivation ever again
  • Unlimited email access to the instructor
  • Private invite-only Facebook group for accountability
  • The opportunity to help others as you have been helped

The Course will run for 4 weeks. Each week, you’ll have one (short!) lecture to watch, then a short & easy homework assignment. No more than 1 hour of Coursework per week, 4 hours’ total.

This is an opportunity to kick-start your year in a safe, supportive environment, with real community, hands-on support, and a chance to help others while helping yourself.

And what’s more, because this is the Internet, I’m able to offer the Course for a fraction of what it would cost to do it in-person or in a traditional school.

Because I’ve done curriculum design for private companies, I know that in a traditional setting, this Course would go for at least to $1,000.

But the Course doesn’t cost anywhere near that much.

What’s more, I’m protecting everyone with a 60-day risk-free money-back guarantee: if you take the Course and decide it’s not worth the money, simply email me and I’ll refund 100% of your tuition…even up to 30 days after the Course concludes.

>> You can click here to learn more and join. <<



Also published on Medium.

8 Comments New Year’s Resolutions Don’t Work. Here’s What Does

  1. Mike

    I would love to have more focus in the next year but as a maintenance electrician some of these concepts will not work. For example if something is broken, no matter the previous days planning, the broken piece of equipment takes priority. I am, however, planning on implementing this into my personal life and maybe it will spill over to the job as well.

    1. Andrew

      Thanks for the comment Mike. This stuff is definitely meant to be flexible, of course will have other plans and you have to be fluid you responsiveness! Plan to work and work the plan, as they say.

  2. Kyle

    If I could apply the mind set of “time is truly valuable, and quality over quantity” to my work/love/family life. Then I would be able to exceed my own standards and expectations. I thank you Andrew for your inspiring words.

  3. Vikranth

    Hi Andrew, this is really great. I am definitely taking this up with more of my mind & soul applied, for a better and improved self. As always, your steps and ways have always worked for me. I am eagerly waiting for part 2. Military strategy, has to be profound if you’re writing it.
    Thank you, once again, fellow Gentleman.


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