Home Office New Year’s Resolutions: Why Your Subconscious Sabotages You & How to Use Psychology to Craft Successful Resolutions

New Year’s means a fresh start to live better, be better and work better.  The Market and the Media take advantage of this desire to improve yourself with a tidal wave of ads for products/programs/books that promise to “help you lose weight.” But that very phrase, “lose weight” is the key to the failure to most weight loss efforts, and why people have to go back over and over.

lists of resolutions torn into pieces

Are your resolutions getting shaky? Work with your sub-conscious for success

Yes, I will apply this to home office resolutions – keep reading this universal example – then learn how to improve your home office work life with well-crafted resolutions.

Your subconscious is very literal-minded. If you say you want to “lose weight” it will be programmed to do that: lose weight – forever. Have you ever hit a weight plateau as you neared your weight goal? Have you reverted to old eating habits after you reached your goal? It could be your subconscious being literal and setting things up so you can “lose weight”, again.  That’s what you asked for, right?

Re-phrase your goal to something positive like: “I want to weigh _____ (give yourself a range) and keep my extra weight off, in a safe and healthy way (no weight loss by stress or illness – please).”

Identify and act on small do-able steps to help you reach this goal by establishing new good habits.

How to work with your subconscious to improve your home office and work life

If you want a clean and organized desk you do not want to create an intention to “clear up my messy desk.” As in the example above with weight, you don’t want to set yourself up for your subconscious to keep messing up your desk so you can keep clearing it do you? You also want to avoid an intention like “I will keep my desk clear and uncluttered.” Yes, it is positive, but your over-literal subconscious will hijack you and focus on decluttering instead of work. (Like you need another way to procrastinate ;-) ) Use “I clear and organize my desk at the end of every work day, so I can get a jumpstart on my work the next day.” Or, “I clear and organize my desk when I move from project to project.” This wraps a positive defined action with the reason for the action into one neat package.

Other ways to work with your subconscious are:

“I will spend [a defined block of time] when I first arrive at my desk/computer working on my priority task for the day.” Rather than “I won’t check my emails (which can be a time sink) first thing in the morning.” which is a negative statement. Your subconscious can’t hold onto a “not” or a “no” and will only remember “Check my emails first thing in the morning.”

“I take a break for a walk/exercise for __ minutes at ___[time] everyday.” Instead of “I need more exercise.” which is negative and ill-defined.

“Make ___ sales calls/ contacts, first thing in the day.”

“I take time on ____ [make an appointment with yourself] to improve the set-up/arrangement/lighting/personalization of my home office.”

What kind of resolutions work best for you? How do you break down a larger goal into smaller action-steps. Share your successes and how you created them with us in the comments box below!

Start the New Year right with an improved office.  Get a copy of The Smarter Home Office: 9 Simple Steps to Increase Your Income, Inspiration and Comfort.Everything is broken down into 8 do-able action steps to insure your success in a supportive home work space for the New Year.

photo by Keith Williamson


  1. Judy Osborne says:

    Again, a great piece. So many people don’t know/forget that the unconscious can’t hear negatives. Cheers, Judy

  2. I have to totally agree with everything you wrote. Sometimes its hard though… I try every year to change things on new years and it never works!! But if not…. i will take a lot ofyour words into consideration.

    • Rissa-
      Resolutions, New Year’s or otherwise. are hard to maintain. They require a shift in our thinking and a change in our behavior. Make sure you break your goals into smaller do-able chunks to help you be more successful.

  3. Judy- It is amazing how our brain plays tricks on us. A big part of the reason positive re-enforcement works better than criticism.
    You can also reward yourself for positive changes and decluttering.
    Rissa- I don’t know about the contest, but I was impressed by the organized cubicle in the video. Being the nudge that I am, I would suggest changing out the desk lamp for a table lamp for lighting that is easier on the eyes and to give your cubicle a more professional look ;-)