It’s that time of year again. New year’s resolutions. Many of us continue to make these annual promises to ourselves. I’ve seen studies that show anywhere between 40 to 50 percent of adult Americans make them every January.

The problem is (and this is likely no surprise) very few people follow through on these resolutions. Or, if they do, they don’t last, which is why many of us end up making the same ones again the following year. Over and over. Year after year.

So why the low success rate? And is there anything we can do to make some of these resolutions actually come to fruition?

The easy answer to the first question is that humans are – for lack of a better word – lazy. We make plans but find excuses not to follow through. But I don’t always buy that. I don’t think it’s that simple. And I don’t think we’re generally that lazy.

I think the reason we don’t follow through on our resolutions is often because we’re making the wrong resolutions. Which leads us to the second question, how can we make them come true?

I think the answer to both is to make better resolutions. Resolutions that you are more likely to follow through on.

An example would be weight loss. A very common resolution is something like, “I’m going to lose 40 pounds this year!”

Well, if this person loses, say, 11 pounds, the resolution didn’t materialize. But if they had made a resolution to lose a more manageable 10 pounds, they would have nailed it. No disappointment.

Perhaps at this point you might be saying to yourself, “This is all fascinating, but how does all this resolution talk translate to my job as a golf course superintendent?”

Well, supers make resolutions, too. Or, if they don’t, maybe they should. But I do want to make a distinction here: please don’t confuse resolutions with goals.

Goals are more like the steps involved for achieving a particular resolution. Like, “We’re going to build an extension to number 4 tee.” Or, “We’re going to clear the trees to the right of 7 fairway to allow more sunlight in.”

Resolutions, when made in regard to the upcoming year on the golf course, are more of a “stylistic” nature. The feel of the golf course. Just like a personal resolution is about your body, or your mind, or your attitude toward something, the golf course resolution is more about the attitude or mindset of the golf course. Something you want to change about the style of the course itself.

Let me try and explain better. Each golf course has a feel to it. A certain style that sets it apart from all other golf courses. I don’t think anyone wants to be just like the course down the road, even if that neighbor is Augusta National or Pebble Beach. We all want to stand out in a slightly different way. Our way.

Maybe it’s how we present our clubhouse, or the sand in our bunkers, or the height of cut in our rough. Maybe it’s naturalized areas, or the way we buffer our water features. Maybe it’s the very links nature of a particular course, or the way we use an unusual natural feature.

A resolution would be something in the nature of keeping, adding to or even changing one’s style. The way you are perceived by others. Goals are the steps to achieve that.

Let’s say that for whatever reason the speed on your greens has slowed in recent years. A resolution could be that you are going to speed up the greens this year. Change how you are perceived. There will be certain goals you have to set to reach that resolution (rolling more, lowering your height of cut, less overnight watering and more hand-watering, etc.), but you’re still making a resolution to change the way you are viewed.

But remember, when making these resolutions, make them reachable. Don’t bite too much off. If your speed was Stimping at 8, don’t shoot for 11 in one year.

Go ahead and make those resolutions, but make them reachable.