How Leveraged are Your Resolutions?

It just struck me that the Ben Franklin quote, “early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise,” implies a great principle of leverage to apply to your resolutions. The easiest way to visualize this is using Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

Modifying behaviors at lower levels automatically improves behaviors at higher levels. So your resolutions should be as highly-leveraged as possible. Call the layers of the pyramid P, S, L, E and A. Compute your leverage as follows:

  • A: 1 point
  • E: 2 points
  • L: 4 points
  • S: 8 points
  • P: 16 points

Your leverage is your total points divided by the number of resolutions. So the example above has a leverage of (1+2+4+8+16)/5=31/5=6.2. Do the math. If your resolutions aren’t sufficiently leveraged, reframe them to move them to lower levels.

A word to the wise, I hope, is sufficient. I am sure you can work out the benefits of leveraged resolutions for yourself.

Regular scheduled programming of 1000+ word posts will resume shortly. Happy New Year!

Get Ribbonfarm in your inbox

Get new post updates by email

New post updates are sent out once a week

About Venkatesh Rao

Venkat is the founder and editor-in-chief of ribbonfarm. Follow him on Twitter


  1. The point is, I didn’t put the L,S and P layers as resolutions. This month I have set myself to meditate daily (as a monthly challenge), this would be a nice P… but it is not a 2011 resolution (in the real sense). Also, probably in February I’ll start practising karate at home (I am green belt, but have no time for classes this coming year, but want to keep my knowledge at hand), making it a S. As for L, I usually don’t have any resolutions related to this!

    You can check my New Year resolutions… and my 30 day meditation challenge.

    And, by the way, are your resolutions balanced?

    Cheers and happy New Year,


  2. It is time we revisit Maslow

    Have a wonderful year ahead

  3. Hrm, wouldn’t this mean that if I just make S and P resolutions I “win” over someone just making A and E resolutions? That seems backwards.

    On the other hand, I can see a self-improvement model here where you improve your odds of accomplishing an A resolution by adding lower-level resolutions that will support it…

  4. @Bill: yes, conventional advice tends to overemphasize purpose, vision etc. but too many of our noble intentions fail to see traction unless there are simple habit changes at the “lower” levels.

    @Venkat: And that, I guess, is the crux of what this leveraging concept is about?

    A couple of additional tips:

    1. In most cases, wording resolutions about doing something is better than stopping or not doing something.

    2. Actions or activities that are easily measurable or have a binary state of done/not done have a better chance of achievement than changes to personality characteristics or goal statements that depend too much on external events or people. The focus needs to be on what I shall do–not always what it results in.

  5. I took boxing lessons for a couple months last year. It did not magically improve my life. Maybe it’s because I didn’t make sufficient progress…

    What are your new year’s resolutions?

    • I am actually trying the early to bed/early to rise thing to see if it actually gets me to H, W, W. If it does, there should be an interesting story to tell :)

      Re: your boxing, too bad. Iterations needed as with any agile process I guess.

      • Either that or I need to pick a more high-leveraged way of increasing my S-score: perhaps it’s time to apply for a concealed permit.

        (until I am wealthy enough to keep a bodyguard full-time)

        But I also think that it’s essential for men to be skilled in hand-to-hand combat.

  6. Venkat, I keep thinking about this post. I came across it first several weeks ago, and it keeps coming up in various ways.

    It’s been some months since you wrote it — do you still think it’s true? How much leverage do the lower levels offer – is it a significant/disproportionate amount?