Know your why

Know your why

How many “How to make your resolutions last beyond 5th January” articles have you read so far this year? What about “How to set SMART goals for 2024”? I have, thus far, studiously avoided them as I’m a little bit resolutioned out in January, to be honest. As a coach, I support clients with goal-setting, fixing intentions, and figuring out what they want and how to get there all year round. I have, in the past, added my two penn’orth to the mix, sharing ideas for everything from making the new year mindful, to transforming resolutions into intentions. However, this year, rather than another blog explaining how best to make resolutions, I would like to offer a slightly different perspective.

Just the tip of the iceberg

I invite you to imagine a resolution as an iceberg. The bit you can see above the water is the thing you’re giving up/starting/reducing/changing. It’s big and a bit scary, but also kind of cool and inspiring, right? Now consider the bit you can’t see: the gigantic mass of ice under the surface. That’s the bit that Kate and Leo didn’t see – that’s the bit that sunk the Titanic. Ninety percent of an iceberg lies below the waterline and, with resolutions, I believe success is about 90% determined by the motivation underpinning whatever goal you set.

Below the surface

The truth is, you can make all the goals and intentions and resolutions you like; they are all pretty much doomed to fail before the end of the month if you don’t know why you are making them. And I don’t mean the obvious why. I’m going on a diet to lose weight. I want to start exercising to be fitter. I want to give up smoking to improve my health. I’m talking about the why behind the why.

To dig into the why behind the why, you can use various queries that coaches call “powerful questions”. As you think about the aim of your resolution, consider one or more of the following:

  • What benefits will achieving this goal bring you?
  • When you achieve this goal, how will you and your life be different?
  • What will happen when you achieve this goal?
  • How does reaching this goal serve you?
  • Whom does this goal benefit?
  • To what extent is this goal important to you?

One path, many truths

Various people with the same resolution may have wildly different motivations, even if they seem similar on the surface. They all might want to give up smoking to get healthier, but for one person that might be motivated by a desire to live long enough to walk their daughter down the aisle, while for another it means being able to run around after a super-active toddler without feeling like they might pass out. For someone else, it might be about making into onto the A team in their amateur football league as opposed to being constantly stuck in the B team or on the reserves list.

The “who” and the “how important”

In addition to working out what benefits achieving a resolution will bring, it’s vital you think about whose goal this really is and how important it is to you. Often, when I work with a client who has been striving for a particular goal for ages and making little or no progress, a little digging reveals that either the aim isn’t really what the client wants (it’s actually a goal projected onto or even set for them by a parent, spouse, sibling, manager…) or, it is something they kind of want but that is just not a top priority. That information is crucial for working out whether you want to keep the goal on your to-do list, or reassess it, put a pin in it for later, or simply dump it and pivot towards something that means more for you and your life.

So, while you may have already set some resolutions this year, it’s never too late to look at them with fresh eyes and ask some powerful questions about what lies beneath. The answers you come up with might strengthen your resolve and enhance your motivation. Or maybe they will send you back to the drawing board for changes to make in 2024. Whatever happens, the information that emerges will offer insights. Knowing what’s under the surface might just help you navigate your way round your resolution iceberg and steer your way to success!


Are you looking to make some changes in 2024? What are you bored of hearing yourself complain about, tired of dragging around, fed up with tolerating? Maybe there’s something you know you want but you’re unsure how to get it. Working with an energetic, practical and insightful coach can help you figure out what you want to do, what achieving it will do for you, and how you can make it happen – so that you can build a life and career you love, on purpose and with purpose. Contact me to find out more about working together.