It's often been said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. There is some wisdom in this idea, and nowhere is this more apparent than with New Year’s resolutions. People make them, they break them, and then they make them again the following year. Rinse and repeat.

This can be a frustrating pattern because it seems so hard to overcome.

The solution? Start relying on your Enneagram personality type to help you select your goals and design intelligent plans for achieving them. When you harmonize your resolutions with your primary motivations, your chances of actually achieving your goals and life-altering actions will increase exponentially.

Even if you don’t plan to make any New Year’s resolutions this year, but simply want to improve your overall performance in life, these tips for each Enneagram type can help you set goals you’ll have an excellent chance of reaching. 

Enneagram 1: The Perfectionist

The problem: As an Enneagram 1 Perfectionist you’ll frequently choose resolutions that challenge you to transcend your limitations not just one step at a time, but all at once and in a convincing fashion. However, because your expectations are unrealistically high, a huge let down may be all-but inevitable.

The solution: Stop your perfectionism from torpedoing your efforts by striving for excellence rather than demanding perfection. To do this, break your big goals into smaller action steps so you can celebrate wins often, and you won’t abandon your goals the first time you have an unproductive day. Be careful to choose milestones that will challenge you to move just a little beyond where you’ve been before – and not well past your current level of skill, knowledge or self-confidence.

Enneagram 2: The Giver

The problem: The purpose of the New Year’s resolution is lasting self-improvement. But Enneagram 2 Givers like yourself are more motivated to help others succeed or grow than you are to do anything strictly for yourself. Anything else seems selfish, and not really worth accomplishing.

The solution: Choose resolutions that combine self-development with service to others. For example, your plans to vacation in Spain next year probably won’t provide you with enough motivation to learn Spanish in the next 12 months. But if you plan to visit a Latin American country as a volunteer working with an anti-poverty or environmental group, you’ll be much more determined to learn the language. As a true Giver, you’ll be able to achieve goals that enable you to live up to your ideals more easily.

Enneagram 3: The Achiever

The problem: Enneagram 3s are known as Achievers because they specialize in goal-setting and goal achieving. You’re more likely than most to keep your New Year’s Resolutions but, oddly, you often feel unfulfilled and disappointed when you actually accomplish what you set out to do.

The solution: What’s happening here is that you’re making the mistake of choosing goals that bring praise from others, rather than an authentic sense of self-satisfaction. So, to really gain something from the goal-setting process, you must do some serious inner reflection first and choose personally transformative goals that put you in a more peaceful state of mind. Assess what you truly want from life, with no reference to how others might react, to guide you toward resolutions that will leave you feeling renewed and reinvigorated.

Enneagram 4: The Individualist

The problem: Enneagram 4s strive for authenticity and want to develop their full potential as unique individuals. Your difficulty as a Four is that you can have trouble translating your wonderful intentions into well-defined and legitimately achievable goals. As a result your resolutions are too general and vague to be effective.

The solution: Once you’ve chosen a big goal you’d like to achieve, create a written outline of the specific steps you’ll need to complete to make something magical happen. This outline should be sequential and include suggestions that are clear and easy to follow. You’ll have to trust that your more deliberate goal-setting process will take you where you want to go in the long run, which is toward a more authentic and fulfilling living experience.

Enneagram 5: The Investigator

The problem: As an Enneagram 5 Investigator you won’t begin any self-improvement project unless you’re certain you’ve developed an effective strategy for meeting your goals. Difficulties arise when you keep investigating and planning indefinitely, so your good intentions aren’t converted into any actual movement. 

The solution: To maximize your chance of succeeding, recruit close friends or family members to partner with you on personal projects that will excite and benefit you both. Whether your resolutions involve exercise, learning, skill development or working to overcome a phobia or fear, you’ll find it much easier to get moving and stay moving if you have someone encouraging you and forcing you to keep up.  

Enneagram 6: The Skeptic

The problem: As an Enneagram 6, you’re likely to undermine yourself by being exactly what you are, which is naturally skeptical. You may find yourself doubting the wisdom or achievability of your resolutions, and never even get out of the starting gate as a result. Or, if you do get started, you may get discouraged and quit if your progress isn’t as rapid as you’d like.

The solution: Enneagram 6 Skeptics can get bogged down by the details. So choose resolutions that are more general in nature and leave room for spontaneity and improvisation. Your macro-plan to study, exercise, travel, write, or pursue personal growth should include a specific end goal, detailing exactly where you’d like to be by the end of the year. But your day-to-day micro-plans should be much more flexible and only partially specific, giving you plenty of wiggle room to adjust and alter course, depending on how fast you’re progressing.

Enneagram 7: The Enthusiast

The problem: Enneagram 7 Enthusiasts will typically begin the year by making several ambitious resolutions. For the first month or so, you'll be filled with energy and excitement as you make the promised changes. But you quickly lose enthusiasm and, as your focus fades, your resolve dissipates along with it.

The solution: Forget about making long-term plans that require months of committed effort. Instead, concentrate on resolutions that are more limited in scope and that produce more immediate results. Let’s say you want to learn a sport like golf or tennis. Your best approach is to break this down into two-to-three-month arcs of activity that have a beginning, middle and end. As you move through each successive arc, your mastery will grow and that will prevent you from becoming bored or discouraged.

Enneagram 8: The Challenger

The problem: Enneagram 8 Challengers like to push themselves to see what they can accomplish. But your intensity may work against you, causing you to burn out before you’ve reached your final destination. You’ll be too results-oriented, and that will prevent you from developing sustainable habits of the type associated with high achievement.

The solution: Make two or three significant resolutions that you can work on simultaneously. This might seem like an invitation to be overwhelmed, so take care to partition your resolutions into smaller sections, accompanied by weekly goals or milestones. You’ll need to ration your time and effort effectively to make room for everything, and this will prevent you from becoming obsessed with a single goal and force you to do things in moderation. This is how Challengers can learn to control their tendency to pursue new projects with excessive zeal.

Enneagram 9: The Peacemaker

The problem: Enneagram 9s think a lot about how their actions might impact others. This can interfere with your attempts to make positive life changes, especially if you think your work will somehow inconvenience your loved ones or prevent them from reaching their goals.

The solution: Reflect deeply on your own priorities and on what you want to accomplish. Identify your top needs, and then customize your goals and resolutions to make sure those needs will be satisfied. Your resolutions should be serious ones, because you’re a serious person. You don’t want to waste your efforts on anything you believe to be trivial. This won’t get rid of your Peacemaking instincts – the ones that tell you to always take others’ needs into account. But you can make a conscious decision to prioritize your physical and mental health above all else. Doing so isn’t selfish, but necessary for you to be at your best.

Nathan Falde
Nathan Falde has been working as a freelance writer for the past six years. His ghostwritten work and bylined articles have appeared in numerous online outlets, and in 2014-2015 he acted as co-creator for a series of eBooks on the personality types. An INFJ and a native of Wisconsin, Nathan currently lives in Bogota, Colombia with his wife Martha and their son Nicholas.