Why New Year’s Resolutions Don’t Work…A Better Way (Part 1 of 2)

New Year’s is officially upon us (and hey, where did 2019 go anyway?!)

It’s about this time we start thinking about “New Year’s Resolutions”. Before you go too far down that path, however, I just want to share a slightly different perspective.

I don’t dispute it’s a good thing to ambitiously create intentions for next year. I think it’s great to be reflective and self-aware. And absolutely, let’s look forward to the future to what we want to intentionally create for ourselves, our families, our careers and our businesses. Let’s address things that aren’t working and plan for what will.

Here’s the thing though. We have a history with New Year’s Resolutions. And it isn’t a good history. I think pop psychology would call it “baggage”.

You know what I’m talking about. Haven’t you set some Resolutions only to have it thrown to the side by January 20th? Then, hasn’t this created a sense of shame or disappointment? Frankly, doesn’t just the thought of New Year’s Resolutions trigger an “ugh” and an eye roll?

And no wonder. The whole process is flawed. Why? A few important reasons.

Most New Year’s Resolutions are not winnable.

What makes an intention winnable?

  • You have the necessary knowledge and skills to succeed
  • You are intrinsically motivated to realize it (i.e., motivated from within versus externally)
  • You have the capabilities and resources to follow through
  • You know exactly what steps to take (or at least the first steps to get started)

Think back about your past News Year’s Resolutions. Your “history”. Were your resolutions always winnable? And if that’s not enough…

Most New Year’s Resolutions are not infallible.

Unless we’re setting really small goals that are completely within our comfort zone, you encounter roadblocks, obstacles and even completely fail. When this happens, resolutions are abandoned, blamed or bemoaned. And yet, if you’re really stretching yourself, failure is completely expected. It’s part of the formula. Expect it. It doesn’t mean a lack of success. Lack of success is to let the fallibility of goals lead you to abandon them, wallow in self-pity and see the roadblocks as evidence you can’t or shouldn’t persevere. As Ellen DeGeneres says, “failure gives you perspective on success.” If it’s expected, you don’t need to judge it and maybe even feel a great sense of success from having experienced it.

Most New Year’s Resolutions are not sustainable.

Think about it. The same time every year so many of us set huge goals (ones often that had been ignored all the rest of the year and only entertain them because we expect that the New Year will give us the “reboot” and motivation necessary to “finally” realize our goals). Reality is, New Year’s Day is not a magic moment. What made it tough on December 31st will make it tough after January 1st. Often question how to make it sustainable is skipped over. As soon as the excitement of new Year’s is over, we go back to all the same routines and pressures and strains that existed before. There’s really no rhyme or reason to why January 1st is the perfect date to set goals.

So what can be done?

Join me next week for the steps to successfully set and fulfill your 2020 goals and intentions. In the meantime, why not share this with someone you’d like to give you some support or join with you in creating realistic, sustainable and greatness-oriented goals in 2020?

Want to check out more resources about how you can set proper goals? Check out these articles:

“There is more hunger for love and appreciation in this world than for bread.”

– Mother Teresa

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