Why New Year’s Resolutions Suck, and What To Do Instead…

Ah, a New Year is looming.  What does it mean?  A New You?  A Fresh Start?  A Clean Slate?  An opportunity for massive and meaningful change?

As a child, I remember writing lists of New Year’s Resolutions:

  • Keep my room clean
  • Eat less chocolate
  • Do more chores
  • Get up earlier in the morning
  • Get my homework done before the deadline…

I think, at best, they lasted a couple of days.

As an adult, I have rarely made resolutions specifically for the New Year, either at work or at home.  But I have successfully changed habits, made significant improvements, and learned to do things differently (and for the better) on many occasions.  So what’s the difference?  And what sucks about those New Year, New You things?

1. Too many changes at once

If you made a whole list of resolutions, then you’re likely doomed to failure.  When you’re trying to change a whole swathe of bad habits at once, it’s harder to make any of them stick.  Devote yourself to one really important once instead, you’ll find it much easier.

2.  An all-or-nothing approach

There is something so alluring about the New Year.  It’s clean, fresh, and nothing has gone wrong in it yet.  But humans have such a tendency for perfectionism.  As soon as something doesn’t go right, and sullies that fresh, clean slate, we feel it’s ruined.  Not worth continuing the effort.  You miss going to the gym for a week, and then abandon it entirely, consigning your plan to the ever-increasing NY Resolution scrap heap.

3. The focus is on what you’re giving up

If I tell you to eat less chocolate, what picture comes into your head?  Is it a bar of chocolate, perchance? What if I tell you to give up wine?  What mental picture does that conjure?  A nice, refreshing glass of sauvignon blanc?  Looks pretty good, doesn’t it?  And probably doesn’t make you wild about giving either of those things up.  If you plan well, you can put the focus on the right things instead, and increase your chances of being successful in your habit change.  Read on…

4.  Our traditional resolutions are very hard to keep at this time of year…

Many of us have just had a period of rest, relaxation, and overindulgence.  Possibly coupled with a stressful family gathering, or a large credit card expenditure.  And many of us will begin New Year’s Day sleep-deprived and hungover, with a fridge full of goodies and a bunch of leftover booze.  Feel like starting the diet, cleaning the house, going to the gym and overhauling all your work habits first thing in that clean and fresh  New Year? Thought not.

And let’s not forget, that if you’re in the northern hemisphere (especially the parts where I’ve lived) it’s winter.  It’s cold, dark and miserable outside.  Not all that conducive to making drastic and often uncomfortable change.

5.  Your resolutions are vague and non-specific.

Deciding you will ‘Be More Organized’ this year is all well and good.  As is deciding to ‘Redesign My Website’.  But there’s a problem with both these resolutions.  They are vague.  They are setting you up for failure.  Why?

Of course ‘being more organized’ is an admirable thing to aim for.  But what does it really mean?  How is this achievable?  It gives you no specific WAY to become more organized.  How are you going to measure it?  What actual tasks do you need to complete to achieve ‘more organized’?  What changes are you going to need to make to do this?  Have you even identified what habits are causing poor organization in the first place?


The good news is that you don’t need to ditch the idea of making change at this time of year, if you’re fired up and ready to do it.  Nor do you need to confine your desire to make change solely to the fresh new year.  There is a very simple way to make change, and to ensure you do it right.

new years resolutionsI have created a simple way to make better resolutions, and put it all together in a free, simple-to-understand guide which will take you through formulating your plan, step-by-step, in a matter of minutes.  Get your free guide now by clicking here