by David Rosen,President at O’More College of Design

Every day we design ourselves. We fix our hair. We choose clothes that express who we are. We buy foods that speak to our values and our tastes—organic, inorganic, healthful, junk. Thousands of every-day decisions tweak us into shape.

But there are tweakings that we simply don’t have the courage to undertake. So we make a resolution and hope that by resolving we will accomplish the difficult.

Good luck with that. 25% give up in the first weeks, 25% in the first six months and most in time for the next New Year’s resolution. The New Year’s resolution has become the Stop sign of modern self-control: a suggestion rather than a demand.

We can do better by thinking in design terms. Design works by understanding how best to take care of a need for the people involved. In this case, you! A design-thinking approach means understanding the best way for you to accomplish your resolutions. Your resolutions, like your clothes, should well-designed to fit you.

New Year’s resolutions usually involve self-improvement. You give up something you seem to think you like too much: sweets, coffee, alcohol, bad boyfriends. You begin something challenging: running, lifting weights, walking everywhere, trying to join Mensa. You become something different: kinder, gentler, more assertive, less assertive, more resolute, a whole lot cooler, years younger.

Let’s imagine that this year (like every year) you want to be healthier. There are lots of ways to accomplish that.

In the end, choose what is most likely to work for you. So while exercise might be good, maybe you have a phobia about exercising in front of others. The gym will never work. Maybe walking your dog is the answer or maybe one of those seven-minute workouts in your bedroom before you brush your teeth.

Even when you identify what is best for you, keeping that resolution won’t be easy. The author George Eliot noted that all change is painful, even change for the better. If this had been easy, you would have done it long ago.

So understand this about yourself: you won’t find keeping your resolution fun. Be prepared for resistance, for all the reasons you will come up with that will make giving up seem like a great idea.

Understand that for you and everyone else it takes at least 30 days to create a habit, and those first thirty will not be fun. So design a routine that allows you to experience the least resistance and succeed for those first thirty days. Select a length of time, a part of the day, and a type of exercise that will be easy to repeat for 30 days in a row. Remember that even baby steps can be aerobic.

Make your routine “who you are” rather than “what you are doing.” Don’t be the person who is keeping a resolution or who needs to exercise. Embrace yourself as the exerciser, the person who loves it, who finds it energizes you.

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Keep in mind that good design (design that achieves its goal) requires constant iteration—improvement based on results. You can always make it easier, more pleasant and more effective by seeing what is working and what is not. Maybe yoga is your thing, not push-ups. Go for it! But keep exercising and experimenting. It won’t be fun, it will take time, but it will become who you are. And then you won’t need a resolution.

And that’s how to design your new year’s resolution.

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