Eric Kraus


Responsive Resolutions 2016

Here’s something new to try for 2016.  Instead of one big “new year’s resolution”, try creating 12 monthly “responsive” resolutions.

The Old Way

The challenge with trying to tackle one big resolution for a whole year is that it gets harder and less beneficial as the year goes on. Resolutions you start at the beginning of the year will rarely be the same goals you would end the year with. Life goes on and we change. So should our goals and commitments.

Responsive Resolutions

Responsive Resolutions seeks to fix the problems with year-long resolutions and the reason why many people start strong, but fade out over the year. With Responsive Resolutions, the focus is on smaller, achievable monthly goals that align to a longer-term vision or lifestyle change.

For example, a common New Year’s Resolution is to lose weight. However, a better long-term lifestyle change would be to “be healthy”. With that as the “vision”, each month you can create goals like working out, avoiding sweets, etc. It will be much easier to keep these commitments for a month which will keep your motivation up while not boiling the ocean for a whole year.

[tweet_box design=”box_01″ url=”” float=”none” excerpt=”‘A good plan executed now is better than a perfect plan executed tomorrow’ -George S Patton #responsiveResolutions”]”A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week.” -George S. Patton [/tweet_box]

3 Steps to Responsive Resolutions

1. Reflect on a long-term “Vision” or aspiration you want to aim for *

Where do you want to be in 1, 3 or 5 years? What does your career look like? Who are you friends with? What kind of physical health are you in? It is critical that you are emotionally connected to this vision in some way. If not, the chances of success are significantly reduced.

2. Reflect on the steps you’ll need to take to get there. Set the first month’s resolution

What do you need to start today? Really…today. Also, what do you need in order to set yourself up for other months down the road? Your first month doesn’t need to be perfect. Don’t try to over do it. Start small and focus on commitment. Being successful is more important than being perfect.

Remember the Patton quote.

3. Do not over plan! Get started and adjust as you go

In the last week of each month, while reflecting on the success or failures of the current month, choose a new resolution for the next month. It is important not to pre-plan all 12 months of resolutions/goals ahead of time. Like the name implies, the idea is to be responsive to what is or isn’t working in your life and use the “agile” methodology to help hone in what you need at that time.

In the last week of each month, while reflecting on the success or failures of the past month, you then choose a new resolution for the next month. It is important not to pre-plan all 12 months of resolutions ahead of time. Like the name implies, the idea is to be responsive to what is or isn’t working in your life and modify what you need at that time to continue toward your vision.


* Pro Tip: If done well, you will never actually achieve your vision. What?!?  Over time, as you are accomplishing your goals and reflecting more, you should be continually evolving your vision. It will grow as you do.

I gained a lot from doing this activity last year, so I’m excited to share my journey again for 2016. I, and a few others, will be updating Twitter frequently with #responsiveResolutions hashtag.


What do you think of this idea?

Like it? Disagree with it? Share your thoughts below.

Month #10 – Be More Social

At the beginning of 2015, a few colleagues and I set out to beat the odds of failure of creating one big “New Year’s Resolution”. Our plan was to create twelve smaller Responsive Resolutions that were easier to achieve and built upon one another. Each month we would work on that one thing and at the end of the month, use learnings from our experience to inform what the resolution would be for the next month, and so on. Goal: A full year of continual learning and growth.

We started off with a lot of success. I had success with resolutions like Journaling and  Meditation.  However, like most new habits, I failed at keeping the rhythm going. I lost the monthly review of what I needed in my life and the goal setting for the next month. Why?

The interesting thing about struggling to keep this habit was that it had nothing to do with the value/benefit I was getting from the activity of self-reflection. In fact, I still did that for myself quite often. It was just the structured activity of picking a new goal for the next month that was gone. In someways I felt like I was still doing it, but just not calling it out.  I believe calling it out is still important.

For the months that I was successful in setting goals… I have still kept many of those. For example, I started this post at 5:15 AM. Getting up early and working is still one my happiest/most productivity parts of the day. Another resolution that I have kept and couldn’t live without: Journaling.

So, I thought I would spend this morning’s journaling session sharing about this reflection on the Responsive Resolutions journey and my thoughts for the remainder of the year ahead. Because I believe being intentional with your actions is important, I am also resurrecting my Responsive Resolutions, starting with October.

Month # 10: “Be More Social”
With all of the things going on “at work” and outside, I want to focus October on being more active on social media. Whaaa?! Who ever says that?  I don’t mean life tweeting every moment of every day. I want to be more engaging with content that I post and content I generate.

I’ve created a personal page on Facebook as an additional platform to engage with people on. Looking forward to October being a solid kickstart for that.

Month #5 – Meditation

I have been practicing some form of meditation since the beginning of 2015.  It has been part of my #ResponsiveResolutions (12 monthly resolutions instead of 1 yearly) project, which I’ve regretfully not been consistently blogging about.  On the topic of meditation though, I’ve learned a lot about my own personal practice and about myself in general.  It’s an interesting topic and journey, and it is something I think everyone could benefit from.  Here’s what a typical Q&A conversation goes like.

Why did you start?

To be honest, I started exploring the topic because of the hype I’ve read about it.  It seems like every successful business executive to entrepreneur attributes some level of their success to daily meditation.  A little bit of curiosity and some research later, I was in…and hooked.  As I mentioned in the intro, every month I am exploring a new ‘habit’ to modify.  This was a habit that would also strengthen my (desired) habit of waking up earlier and investing in myself.

What are you learning?

There are three major learnings that I have gathered from this journey.  Absolutely most critical: you need to make meditation a ritual.  You also can’t expect it to be perfect out of the gate and, journaling can help you learn about yourself and adapt meditation to be more successful for you.

Make it a Ritual

First things first was to figure out ‘when’ I could find the time to meditate.  I thought about doing a mid-day meditation…trying to break the stress of the day in half.  I quickly concluded that this would be a hard ritual to keep.  My next choice would be to do it in the morning.  At the time, my morning rituals would consist of sleeping until 7am, helping get the kids up, feeding the pets, showering and taking off for rush hour traffic.  I knew if I tried to fit in even 15 minutes of quiet time for myself — it likely wouldn’t work either.  Luckily I was already keeping a monthly resolution to get up early (5am).  Meditation felt like a perfect way to help strengthen that ritual and also give it purpose.  Obviously, 5am isn’t required for this.  Setting your morning alarm for 20 minutes earlier is all that would be needed.

Shoot First, Then Aim and Adjust

My research warned me there was no ‘right way’ to meditate.  It’s a little bit of the old saying “you get what you put in”.  Unfortunately, this means a little trial and error and some patience is required.  It will take some time to find out what works for you.  So, you should go in with a commitment of at least a couple weeks.  Experiment a little.  First try to force yourself to think about nothing.  Focusing only on breathing is a good way to do this.  Also, experiment with thinking about just one thing. In both cases, as your mind might wander, bring it back to your focus.

Write About It

I wrote another post completely dedicated to Journaling.  I think this is absolutely critical.  It doesn’t need to be a lengthy saga about the experience.  It could just be a few sentences in a Field Notes notebook or anywhere for that matter.  I like small physical notebooks because they are simple and can go anywhere with me.  Write about what you are thinking after meditation.  This will help you tune in to the output of the meditation.  Something quick and dirty, no more than 5 minutes time.  Also, very important: always re-read your written thoughts…often. This will help you discover about yourself and will help you fine-tune your practices.

Specifically, What do you think about?

This is the #1 question, but I saved it for last.  Every day is a little different for me.  Some days, I just want to “stop thinking”.  I wake up and my mind instantly starts going.  A colleague of mine often says, “sometimes you need to slow down to speed up”.  This slow-down practice helps me enter the day, usually with a journaling session, with clear mind.  Other days, I want to focus on a specific topic.  Usually, I’m trying to drill something into my head or explore that topic for alternative ideas.  For example, I may focus my session entirely on how I need to be more patient in my life.  Or, how I am going to deliver difficult feedback to a family member.  Another day, I might just think about what I NEED to get done for the day.  In any of the cases, I have learned to enter my meditation session with a specific goal in mind.

Big Take Aways

Be intentional about using your “me” time.  No matter what you do during your “meditation”, it will benefit you best if you set goals, dedicate time to think (or not think) about it and measure your progress along the way.

Benefits of Journaling

Journaling has become a valuable tool in many successful people’s toolboxes. But if you haven’t had a chance to give it a try, you may wonder, “What are the benefits of journaling and how can I use it as a tool to help me accomplish my goals?”

For one of the months for my Responsive Resolutions, I decided to try journaling every day. I had heard of the benefits of journaling from colleagues, but had never actually spent the time to commit to it. However, I was willing to suck it up and try it, at least for a month.

Finding time to journal was actually relatively easy. I decided to keep my first month’s resolution of waking up at 5 am – which on a side note, has been a game changer for my productivity. I now have plenty of time to get a work out in, write, read or now journal before the craziness of the day begins.

Related: How to Wake Up Early – Tricks to Getting the Most Out of the Day

“Writing about myself always seemed superficial”

I’ll admit I was a bit of a skeptic with the idea of journaling. Writing about myself always seemed superficial. I never fashioned myself as a guy that kept a “diary”. I already spent a lot of time reflecting on my personal life, work, goals, etc. Writing them down almost seems redundant to me.

What I found was kind of interesting.

Benefits of Journaling

“…the things I am reflecting on are always within my control”

The process of journaling wasn’t so much about writing, as it was planning. I was learning a lot about myself, as I would expect, but it was the increase in productivity that really caught my interest.

Over the course of reflecting on success/mistakes of the past and setting new goals for the future, one thing always stood out in my mind: the things I am reflecting on are always within my control.

“Why am I not doing anything about it?”

So, naturally my reflection of these thoughts was, “Why am I not doing anything about it?”  THIS is where the magic happens. Inevitably, this reflection caused me to take some action, even if it is only to add an item to my task list. I don’t beat myself up over anything, but taking some action to improve the future ensures I am always growing.

My journaling has drastically shifted away from free-form writing or prompt/question and answer to more of a goal review and task planning for the day. Here’s a quick look at the structure and benefits of journaling I am seeing in my daily life.

Journaling Outline

Time To Complete: 10 minutes


Each journaling session starts out with a list of things I have completed or failed in the day(s) since I wrote last. This can be anything noteworthy, planned or unplanned. The goal is to acknowledge accomplishments, which is often a step that we over look and call out mistakes for further reflection.

Benefit: This is my way of measuring productivity and creating focus on personal growth. Reviewing the last few journal entries also gives me the opportunity to make sure no Must-Do tasks are getting left behind.

Must Do

After I review the pervious journal entries and get my Completed list done, I transition into my must-do list. As the name describes, this list is designed to reflect on the things I must do that day. Often these task items were already on a task list somewhere, but by journaling about them first thing in the morning, I am mentally moving them to a fresher part of my brain. And if I know I can’t complete something in the given day, I move it to my longer-term digital task list.

Benefit: This prevents me from filling up my Must Do list with with items I can’t complete and gives me much better focus for the day.


The third list I create is a “learn, share or give” list. This list is a catch-all for anything that I want to accomplish, but is not a Must Do item and doesn’t really fit the category of a task. It includes things like ideas for learning or sharing information and goals toward giving back to others. Sometimes i use this space in my journal to do a diagram about a problem I want to solve or an idea I want to explore.

Benefit: This area achieves the advantageous of free-form writing and I can often generate new ideas from just a few minutes of time reflecting.

I highly recommend The Decision Book by Mikael Krogerus. Each page is a different diagram that you can model to make decisions as well as explore different ideas, alternatives, etc. I use this weekly for new ideas on ways to tackle problems or make decisions.

The benefits of journaling are really personal. It can be an outlet for thoughts or simply a way to better plan your day. Whatever the benefits, I encourage you to give it a try and experiment. Often it takes some trial and error, as it did for me, to find the sweet spot.

Responsive Resolutions

Happy New Year.

I’m kicking off 2015 with a blog post around self-improvement.  We talk a lot in the Responsive Org about continuous improvement through small, adaptive changes.

“Continually evolve based on the success/failures/learnings from previous runs”


Making it personal

I was inspired by a colleague that is applying this theory to his personal life.  Steve Nguyen wrote a blog post about making 12 monthly resolutions instead of one big (bound to fail) “new year’s resolution”.  I decided to do the same. And for the first month, Steve and I have challenged each other to wake up at 5am.

I’ll be documenting the journey on Twitter: @erickraus  and on Storify.