Why You Shouldn’t Make New Year’s Resolutions (And What To Do If You Did)

What was your New Year’s resolution?

Perhaps it was to spend less money.
Spend more time with family.
Be healthier and lose weight…and keep it off.

According to research done by Strava, January 12 was D-day or the fateful day of New Year’s resolutions, for most people, that is. The fact is, 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail by February1 with just about eight percent of people achieving their New Year’s goals2 through the year.

Well, January 12 has passed and we’re already well into February. How are you doing?

“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” – Albert Einstein

How Can You Stay on Track?

Depending on what goal(s) you chose for the New Year, you’ll need to take the necessary actions accordingly.

Perhaps you wanted to learn a new skill. Taking an online course is a good idea step to take because if you enroll into an online course, you’ve already dedicated time and possibly money into the course. This can keep you accountable and make you more likely to complete what you’ve started.

Maybe your goal is health-related. Maybe you want to eat healthier, lose weight, and stay fit. If so, you might consider hiring a health coach, a personal trainer, or have friends and colleagues join you in your health journey so you can keep each other accountable.

Maybe you want to take charge of your finances and spend less. There is a multitude of mobile apps to help you keep track of your spending and savings. Try Credit Karma or Mint to get started.

Regardless of your goal, you need to focus on the incremental steps it takes to get there. Take your journey one day at a time, as trying to do everything at once will leave you burnt out. Share your goals with those who are willing to keep you accountable and even celebrate your wins with you. If you’re so inclined, try joining groups or memberships related to the goal you want to achieve.

Why are people so drawn to making goals at the beginning of the year? It is because we see day one of month one as a fresh start. It’s tempting to make all kinds of promises on a day like January 1. But how can we the guilt that comes with failing such good intentions?

Ask Yourself: Who, What, Where, When, Why, and Maybe How?

Who is the change for?

Your goal is likely very personal to you but is there anyone else it’ll affect in a positive way, like your spouse, children, other family members, friends, co-workers, or even your boss? What we do affects those around us. When we’re aware of who our goals will affect, it can motivate us more to stay focused and take hold of opportunities.

Why are you making this change?

If your motivation lies within seeking others’ approval or fitting in, chances are it will fade. You need to believe in it yourself.

What’s your plan?

Changes don’t come about without a specific plan to execute. It’s like setting out for a vacation, but without booking any tickets, or travel and accommodations.

Where is your support system?

Family members, friends, mentors… they are all key to helping you reach your goal. When the going gets tough (which it will), you’ll need tough supporters by your side.

How will you celebrate your victories?

Share your wins with your supporters, reflect on what you have achieved, or take a rest day. Whatever it may be, acknowledge your win and use it to fuel you forward on the path you started!

When will you begin? 

Depending on the nature of your goal, you may have a desired or necessary deadline. Writing down your game plan and setting some concrete dates will help keep you working on your goal consistently

It’s too late, January 1 and 12 have passed!

Don’t forget that January 1 is just a date on the calendar. (So is January 12.) You have a chance at a fresh start every morning that you wake up. You can even have a fresh start in the middle of your day! Remind yourself of this whenever you feel as though you’re wavering. Resist the urge to pity yourself. You don’t need to wait until January 1 to try again.

It is almost as if the New Year resembles a magical time that will automatically incorporate the changes you want to see. It’s a romantic idea but the fact remains the same: action is what brings about change. Once the New Year euphoria fades, you’ll need something more sustainable to keep you going.

With that being said, what if your New Year’s resolution was to not make one at all?

To be clear, I’m not against setting goals; however, with failed resolutions come unrealistic expectations. Change doesn’t happen overnight. By seeking to make changes all at once, you’ll feel overburdened and pressured. Instead, you should focus on making a consistent, persistent effort.

It’s important to write down your goals because they become more concrete. You can even tape your written goals to your bathroom mirror, fridge, or somewhere easily visible in your room.

What if you already made a New Year’s resolution?

That’s completely fine! Take time to re-evaluate where you stand with your goals, and use the tips mentioned in this article to help keep you going. Resolutions and goals aren’t bad things to have; it’s more so that the mindset associated with it that affects your ability to achieve it.

What if you can’t kick a bad habit, one that you’d hoped would be gone by now?

Studies show that it takes approximately 66 days to make a habit an automatic one. Start by making daily, weekly, and monthly goals. There is an importance in making small changes that lead to the big ones. Remember, if you made goals on January 1, your deadline is not January 1, next year. Think of it as a consistent journey, not a destination.

Given all these steps, I personally prefer to take this into prayer with God. When I feel overwhelmed, I can rest assured that God is carrying my burdens.

(1) https://health.usnews.com/health-news/blogs/eat-run/articles/2015-12-29/why-80-percent-of-new-years-resolutions-fail

(2) https://www.forbes.com/sites/dandiamond/2013/01/01/just-8-of-people-achieve-their-new-years-resolutions-heres-how-they-did-it/#26a39812596b

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Grace Jauwena

Grace Jauwena is a health coach that focuses on plant-based nutrition and natural remedies. She strives to help others thrive holistically, and is pursuing a doctorate degree in natural medicine. She loves to cook, create recipes, style food, and take photos. In her free time, she explores new foods, hiking trails, and beaches with her husband, and spends time with family and friends.

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