Why NOT to Make a New Year’s Resolution

by Laura Kronen on December 29, 2011

The only resolution you should make for 2012, is NOT to make a resolution. The fresh start, the optimistic resolve, the turning over of a new leaf, the clean slate – it’s all so appealing, but the reality of it is that over 80% of all resolutions fail by January 20th.

Reasons for this include:

-Relying on motivation only. There isn’t one secret trick to motivating one’s self. Motivation comes from a series of small successes. Unless you are willing to put in the work, you will never succeed.

-Thinking too big. If you think in too large of terms, you are headed for failure. Resolving to lose a ton of weight or making a major life change can be very overwhelming.

-Change, even positive, can be uncomfortable. We are creatures of habit.

You can bet that those who DO succeed with their resolutions are people who did not just make their resolution over Christmas break, but rather those that have spent a long time preparing and thinking about what they want to accomplish in the new year. About the only thing they have in common with those that don’t succeed with what they pledge to do, is a start date of January 1st. You have to begin somewhere, so the first day of the new year is just as good of a day as any.

Those that fail, focus on the downside of not achieving goals; suppressing cravings, fantasizing about being successful, and adopting a role model or relying on willpower alone. These are ideas recommended by many self-help experts that simply don’t work.

On the other hand, people who keep their resolutions tend to have break down their goals into smaller steps and reward themselves when they achieve one of them. They treat their occasional lapses in the plan as temporary setbacks. They also tell their friends about their goals, focus on the benefits of success and keep a diary of their progress. The most successful people use a technique which involves making a plan and sticking to it. Which, incidentally, is exactly how I work with all of my Life Coaching clients.

Making new year resolutions at the last minute can also backfire because such decisions tend to be less genuinely motivated. If you do it on the spur of the moment, it probably doesn’t mean that much to you and you won’t give it your all. Failing to achieve your ambitions is often psychologically harmful because it can rob people of a sense of self control.

So whether you want to lose weight, stop smoking, exercise more, stop biting your nails, get out of debt, get a better job, reduce stress, learn to speak French, manage your time better, become more organized, reduce stress, start volunteering, get more sleep, or finish your scrapbooks, you need to not only set your goal, but set strategies for accomplishing that goal.

In the words of Edith Loveyjoy Pierce, “We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year’s Day.”

What will you write in your book this year?

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