Achievable Resolutions

To Plan, Decide, and Act to Achieve, Improve, Solve, Change, Transform

I developed this 7-Step Method to help my seminar students who often set the same “New Year Resolution” year after year. Both they and I have done better identifying priorities and taking action.

7 Steps to Set a Resolution that increase your chance of success:

If you answer these seven questions as an outline for your plan, you will boost likelihood of success. You will better internalize the results you seek and why you should follow through, plus have a plan that helps you invest enough time to give you a chance to succeed. Research—mine and others—suggests over 50% of people quit on resolutions, most within one month.

  1. Mission (Purpose)
  2. Vision & Goals (Desired Results)
  3. Solutions (Strategy that could work if implemented)
  4. Motivation (Results if you succeed, if you quit, why you should persevere)
  5. Choice (Decision on if the resolution results are worth the time and resources)
  6. Systems and Structures for Success (Create automatic actions for success)
  7. Assessment and Accountability (Integrity and feedback)

Main reasons for failing:

  1. Lose focus on the result, benefit, and commitment felt at the time of setting the resolution. There is science behind the benefit of writing your resolution result and plan plus reading regularly to remember and internalize.
  2. Never truly get started because they do not plan for the hours and times to invest, which includes appointments with self and others, plus identifying what to reduce to make time for the new priorities. If you need 5-10 hours per week to get something done and do not plan for or implement that time commitment, most fail and often never know why. This often requires new habits or at least re-defining balance for awhile. An Olympic athlete or a working professional going back to school at night for a few years usually chooses to invest more time in the bigger goal and less time in less important activities like excessive tv, social media, or hanging out (note: “excessive” because some of those can be good unless it gets excessive and shifts from good renewal to excessive escapism). The average person spends over 20 hours weekly watching tv—the dedicated Olympian or parent going to school to make a better life makes better choices—at least until the resolution is completed.

Stories of Succeeding using this Method:

Writing books. Col. Stretch Dunn (USA Retired, 1943-2017) and I wrote two books, Professionalism Under Stress and Patriotism in Action, on time and budget using my 7 Step Method. We used the plan template to outline what we wanted to do, why, and how, then decided together and signed the accountability partner agreement. If you want to keep a promise, ask a West Point graduate trained in doing “the harder right” to be your partner😊. If you have a big enough “why” and internalize the importance to you and others you value, plus outline a plan with potential to succeed, then persist, you can do most anything.

Graduating school. I finished my doctoral dissertation and graduated a year faster than most in my class mainly because I realized early on I needed to invest more hours in the main thing that final year–research and writing on my dissertation. Like most students, I felt motivated and busy though an honest assessment of how I was spending my time motivated me to make changes in time priorities that made the difference.

Stopping bad habits. A grandmother attended my weekend workshop. She confessed, she had tried to quit smoking for years. Question 4 helped her finally succeed: Motivation. She wanted to live to see her grandchildren graduate school. I suggested she post a photo of her grandchildren on her mirror and ask daily, which is most important: “my grandchildren or my cigarettes?” She grinned at the suggestion, paused, thought, agreed, then she quit smoking. She internalized her big “why” and that made the difference.

This and more content are provided for you in the planbook. To see or print a complimentary copy of the planbook you can use to outline your goals for the 7 Areas of Life, plus plan an achievable resolution:

7 Steps to Set Achievable Resolutions

Plato and Our First Victory

“The first and best victory

is to conquer self.”


Best-Self Leadership is the first best practice to plan and lead in life. –David

7 Best Practices for Life Leadership Continuum and 7 Areas of Life Pyramid

Dyson Life Leadership Model 1987 Gold

To prepare students and professionals to do their best requires teaching and rewarding learning and development in Best-Self Leadership.

Expand Capacities to Increase Freedom

Einstein inspires these thoughts and actions about “widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures”:

  1. In addition to doing daily activities and tasks, we can grow more by intentionally planning and preparing for expanding our capacities.

How would you like to change in the way you think or behave toward others?

What characteristic is holding you back?

Which one is good that could be even better if you focused on making it a strength?

Have you listed your important goals and resolutions to inspire your improvement?

You can add to your goals for the 7 Areas of Life at least one for the Personal Area to think of a way you would like to improve in the way you think or act and the Social Area to identify a way you could improve relationships. Visualize your better or best-self. Write a goal or result. List an action that could succeed. Ask and answer why this is important to you and others (what will happen if you take action and what will likely happen if you don’t?). You likely need all of these to focus on the end result and to keep you moving instead of stay on the path not leading you to your desired journey.

Consider the man who admitted he had “anger issues.” Three marriages. Three divorces. Distant relationships with ex-wives, the new one, even children. Improving this characteristic is more than daily living and wish lists. It almost always requires intentional action inspired by a big reason to choose a better self.

Let us remember, If nothing changes, nothing changes.

He had a choice to make: stay in a comfort zone of beliefs and acceptance, I am a “hot head though after the blow up I am over it and don’t mean to hurt anyone…they should know that and get over it.” Keep telling yourself that and keep getting the same results. Or, widen your “circle of compassion” and your capacities to think and behave differently. Is it worth 1% of your time, about 10-15 minutes daily to improve your plans, actions, and results?

2.  “Compassion to all living creatures” means treating dogs, cats, horses, and most others with respect and care. Enlightened people treat living creatures about the same–humans and animals deserve respect for their purposes. Those who hurt animals when no one is looking or for entertainment likely will hurt or cheat people when no one is looking. Just because what is “legal” has not caught up with what is “ethical” is not justification for people to behave badly.

Have you ever realized you were doing something you thought was okay because “everybody was doing it” and decided it was not okay? I have, too. When bad things are done to other people or to animals, sometimes it is done by people with bad intentions though some people of good intent do bad things because they have not been taught well or they have not yet figured out “right” on their own. Many children learn right and wrong as they mature though too many older adults still suffer–and cause suffering–because they are too lazy or too overwhelmed to include improvement in their daily lives.

A few minutes of daily reflection on plans, actions, and results can save us and others from excessive heartaches as well as increase joys and successes.

May you Plan and Lead your Life, David


Best-Self Strategy

Parents, teachers, mentors–this can be a resource for your influence on students/loved ones
Consider these two sets of best practices for your best-self strategy, which summarizes how you do your best and can be used to coach others who ask about how to do their best
(“Mom/Dad/Teacher, you keep telling me to do my best; how do I do that?”).
Hint: there is more to a good answer than “work hard with a positive attitude.”
Dr. Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
(taught at the Life Leaders seminar, from the book of that name)
  1. Be proactive.
  2. Begin with the end in mind.
  3. First things first.
  4. Think win-win.
  5. Seek first to understand, then to be understood.
  6. Synergize.
  7. Sharpen the saw.
Dr. Dyson’s 7 Best Practices to Plan and Lead your Life
(developed beginning 1987 and a model for Life Leaders)
  1. Lead your Life.
  2. Plan for Life.
  3. Have an Impact.
  4. Balance your Life.
  5. Live Your Priorities.
  6. Assess and Adjust.
  7. Renew and improve.
Dyson Life Leadership Model 1987 Gold
For more info or action
  • attend Life Leaders public seminar Thursday, February 4, near Birmingham (if you cannot attend, you can receive handouts, slides, and a coaching call–
  • sponsor events for those you serve (training, coaching, program dev)
  • sponsor programs for students-teachers-parents planning for school and life
  • sponsor classroom resources on why students are “Free to Flourish”
  • sponsor seminars and coaching for people Mastering Goliaths, making comebacks, earning empowerment, sustaining better beyond homelessness, recovering from war or other stresses, others motivated to be and do their best
  • invite Dr. Dyson or another speaker to present at your civic club or city hall
  • download or donate for books and workbooks at the web site

This photo is of Dr. Covey teaching in Birmingham at a Life Leaders event in 1993:

Covey1993BSC.jpgDr. Stephen Covey (1932-2012), author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, lectured at the National Leadership Seminar presented by Life Leaders hosted at Birmingham-Southern College in January 1993. Dr. Neal R. Berte hosted. Dr. David Dyson moderated and opened the seminar. Dr. Covey taught on the “Seven Habits” in the morning session and “Principle-Centered Leadership” in the afternoon. Sponsors of 35-70+ tickets each were BellSouth, Protective Life, Alabama Power Company,  Southern Company Services, and Parisian. The College sponsored facilities, parking, and personnel. Life Leaders Institute and Life Leaders Association (then called the Personal Leadership Association) organized the event to advance personal leadership in Alabama and America.


The 7 Areas of Life

The 7 Areas of Life 

Dyson Life Leadership Model c Gold

Everything we do falls into one or more of these 7 Areas of Life. Activities listed within the 7 Areas below cover most things we do:

  1. Physical: breathe, eat, sleep, bathe, groom, and exercise to survive and care for physiological needs, providing a platform of health and energy.
  2. Financial: budget, purchase, and invest to satisfy needs for survival, security, hope, and freedom to pursue callings.
  3. Professional: plan, prepare, learn, and work for distinctive, ethical service to meet financial needs, enjoy personal success, and provide value to society.
  4. Personal: plan for life, develop yourself for mental and emotional health, intellectual development, and independence; nurture your home, read, play, listen to music, enjoy hobbies, other activities primarily for you.
  5. Social: share and do, with and for others—through recreation and responsibility, for fun and fulfillment—to belong, care for, love and serve interdependently.
  6. Philanthropical: contribute time for service and resources for communities, charities and causes that match your mission synergistically and improve society.
  7. Spiritual: pray, study, worship, serve, and give to fulfill your callings, gifts and talents—to fulfill the purpose of life—to live a spiritual journey faithfully, love and serve others meaningfully, and do my best joyously.

You can review the areas and descriptions and write plans to fulfill priorities in areas important to you to enhance success and balance.