Why New Year’s Resolutions Always Fail

Ah, a new year.  A clean slate. The perfect time to make the changes you’ve been wanting to make — in your job or in your personal life.

But … those New Year’s resolutions? They don’t work. They never do. And here’s why.

Why New Year's Resolutions Always Fail (1)

Resolutions are too generic.

“I want to lose weight. I want to get healthy. I want to be organized.”

These are great aspirations. But they are too broad.

The key to achieving what you want to achieve is to set clear goals. This is true for personal life and business life.

Here are the 4 key things that define an achievable goal:

  • A goal must be specific.
  • A goal must be measurable.
  • A goal must be attainable.
  • A goal must be timely.

Let’s take a common “resolution”: I want to get healthier. That is not specific, or measurable, or attainable, or timely. Setting that resolution is setting you up to fail.

How can we make it an achievable goal?

  • Be more specific. What does “healthier” mean? Does it mean to eat better foods? To exercise more? To not spend all day on Saturday on the couch?
  • How are you going to measure that goal? Is it by the number of pounds lost? Or maybe it’s by exercising for 30 minutes 3 days per week.
  • Can this goal be attained? That depends on how you answer the above two questions. Saying “I want to lose 100 pounds” is probably not attainable. Going from being a couch potato to exercising for 2 hours everyday is also not realistic. The goal must be realistic. Don’t give yourself a goal that is too overwhelming. Start small, and then build on your goal after you achieve it. If the thought of doing what you need to do to achieve your goal makes you sigh … it’s probably not going to happen.
  • And to make it timely, you have to give yourself a deadline. Is the deadline Dec. 31? Or maybe sooner? If there’s no deadline, how do you know if you’re met your goal or not?

Here are some examples of how you can turn that generic “become healthier” resolution into an achievable goal:

  • I will lose 10 pounds by my next birthday.
  • I will replace one meal per day with an easy, delicious smoothie.
  • I will walk the dog 6 days per week.

Actually, you could set all of these goals! They are all specific, measurable, and attainable. And they are not overwhelming.

Wanting to improve an area of your life is a good thing. Starting on that journey at the beginning of the year makes sense. But make sure you are setting yourself up for success rather than failure.

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