Resolutions Are Setting You Up For Failure Again And Again

I’ve never been a fan of New Year’s resolutions. They don’t really work. Be honest! How many times have you set New Year’s resolutions only to forget about them within a few weeks. Almost every time? Yep. That’s what I thought.

Resolutions are setting you up for failure again and again: Photo of man at top of mountain peak.

For the past few years I’ve written down my goals at the beginning of each year. At the end of the year I review those goals. Here are the links to some of my previous years’ goals and reviews:

Goals And New Year’s Resolutions Are Not The Same

This year I’m not going to publish my results from last year. I will say that I accomplished about 60% of what I set out to do. That’s not horrible, but if I were in college I’d be near failing.  

I’m also not going to publicly set new goals this year. Why? Because each year my goals change. Sometimes life dictates what we can and can’t do. I might decide to let some goals go and create some new ones. Goals are not written in stone. Goals are works in progress. They start with habits. And habits are built over time. 

This is why resolutions are setting you up for failure every year. See my 2015 post: Why I Don’t Make New Year’s Resolutions. Resolutions are a type of goal. But they’re usually goals that are too lofty. They include things we’ve always dreamed of, but have never made the commitment to get started.

What Makes You Think A New Year Will Help?

A new year is just another day. If you haven’t already taken the initiative or made the commitment to work toward your goals, what makes you think the new year will change anything? You can’t create change in a day. 

Here’s why you fail at New Year’s resolutions again and again:

  1. You don’t make the effort to make the change all year long.
  2. Then you set overzealous goals on the first day of January.
  3. You haven’t yet created habits that will stick.
  4. Within a few weeks you stop working toward your new goals.
  5. By March you’ve nearly forgotten about your resolution. 
  6. You repeat the behavior the next year.

Does this sound familiar? If it does, you need an entirely new strategy. One that does not include creating over-the-top goals on a whim.

Something Better Than Resolutions: Creating Habits

New Years is not a magical day. In fact, it’s usually a lazy day. What do people usually do on New Years? They sleep late after the previous night’s parties. They watch college football games. And they sit around and eat. Sound about right?

So why in the hell would anyone think that that’s a good day to start a new habit? Beats me. There is no special day to set goals or start new habits. But there is a strategy to starting new habits. And to make it even better, you can kill a bad habit at the same time.

Here’s a simple 5-step process to starting a new habit:

  1. Name the new habit you want to create: Let’s say that you want to write a book.
  2. Choose a bad habit you want to replace: Let’s say you want to stop watching so much television.
  3.  Substitute one habit for the other: Stick a Post-It-Note on the TV screen as a reminder. But start writing each day instead of watching TV.
  4. Expect some ups and downs: Some days, you might slip and watch too much TV. Other days, you might struggle with your writing. But don’t give up. Consistency is what creates change.
  5. Own your new habit: If you sincerely work at making the change, your new habit will become ingrained. You’ll begin to write every day. You will eventually write your book.

Wait! There’s An Added Bonus

Guess what happens when you replace a bad habit with a good one? You begin to experience a snowball effect.

So you stopped watching TV almost completely. Now you write for two hours a day. But you were watching 3-5 hours of TV every day. So you decide to start a running routine, too. This leads you to eating more healthy. So you’ve wound up with three new healthy habits by giving up one bad habit. Amazing how that works.

I encourage you to stop making resolutions. Instead, choose a bad habit and replace it with a good habit. Practice your new habit for 30 days and I promise you that you’ll see results.

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