While I know you’re probably putting together a list of New Year’s resolutions if you haven’t done so yet, I would ask that you stop. Don’t even bother. Boycott the whole tradition. Refuse to get suckered into a yearly game that gives the impression that it will help, but actually does you more harm than good. How do New Year Resolutions hurt? Let me explain the ways:
First and foremost, New Year’s Resolutions are nothing more than a delay tactic — they are an easy way to delay something that you know you should be doing right when you decide that it should be done. If something is important enough to make a New Year’s Resolution about, then it’s something that is important enough to begin doing the minute you decide it’s that important. Learn to begin goals immediately once you have made the commitment to reach them rather than delaying them to some arbitrary date in the future.
Even worse, New Year’s Resolutions provide an easy cop-out. The problem is that most people never follow through with the New year’s Resolutions they make and everyone knows it. The result is that nobody will hold you to any resolutions you make because they don’t expect you to keep them. That means that at the first sign of difficulty, you are in an easy position to give up and nobody will say a thing. If you make solid goals, however, and announce them to friends and family not as New Year’s Resolutions, but as life changing goals, there is a completely different aspect to them. Especially if you ask for friends and family to support you in trying to reach them, it makes it much harder to quit and more likely you will work through those difficult stretches than if you simply make a resolution.
This leads to yet another problem of New Year’s resolutions which is that they are made without the proper preparation needed to succeed. The fact is, making changes to your life requires a lot of work, stamina and discipline to succeed. If you do not make the initial research and preparations on how you are going to make the goal succeed, you will likely never achieve it. Most New Year’s Resolutions are simply statements without any of the proper planning in place meaning that they are bound to fail.
When the proper planning hasn’t been done, New Year’s Resolutions are often unrealistic because they are so broad. Achieving goals is not an instantaneous result. You don’t get to the top of a mountain in a single step. It takes a lot of planning, effort and small steps along the way. No matter how much you wish, you aren’t gong to be able to wipe out all your credit card debt which has been building for years in a couple of months. You will need to work at it one step at a time chipping away at the debts one at a time. You would be much better off focusing on that first step toward the ultimate goal than the entire goal.
Another problem is New Years Resolutions tend to be absolute with little to no room for the obstacles that are bound to happen. This makes giving them up easy the first time an obstacle arises since they are often made as all or nothing statements where any deviation means you fail. Life, unfortunately, doesn’t make reaching goals without setbacks happening very often and why planning and taking small steps is so important. If there is no recourse on how to proceed when an obstacle occurs, then the goal will likely be abandoned instead.
Too many New Year’s Resolutions are also made for the wrong reasons. If you are 100% committed to accomplishing something, then it is a goal worth pursuing. If you are making a goal because it is something that you would like to change, but aren’t willing to put in the time and effort needed to make it happen, then it’s going to fail. For many, New year’s Resolutions are nothing more than things they wished they could change without having to make any effort. In order to succeed, you’ll need the passion that will only come from you firmly wanting to reach the goal. If you aren’t, it’s better not to make it until you are ready.
January is a terrible time to start your New Year’s Resolutions. Granted, there will likely never be a perfect time to begin, but the New Year can be one of the worst times to be making major changes. You’re tired after the holidays and instead of resting, you make drastic changes when you may not have the physical or psychological energy to make them work. Piling on resolutions with all of the other issues that need to be dealt with at the beginning of the New Year can make it that much harder for the goals to succeed.
This leads to another major problem which is that people make too many of New Year’s Resolutions all at the same time. Achieving the goal of getting your finances in order is a monumental task in itself, but making it work while losing 20 pounds, exercising an extra 2 hours a day, reorganizing your house and quiting smoking makes success impossible. It’s important to prioritize your goals and work on them as time permits rather than jumbling them all together at the beginning of the New Year.
Over time, New Years Resolutions have a negative impact on your motivation and success. When you make New Year’s Resolutions year after year and the resolutions fail year after year, it becomes easy to believe that the resolutions really can’t be accomplished. Instead of seeing that they have failed due to failing to take the proper steps to set the goals up, you only see failure time and again and many people simply give up on their goals entirely after awhile.
In the end, New Year’s Resolutions simply don’t work. Goals wrapped it up as New Year’s Resolutions lack the planning and commitment needed for them to work. If you have goals, take the proper steps of doing your research, setting up a step by step plan, measure your progress and make sure that you truly achieve what you set out to accomplish.
Here is a challenge you aren’t likely to see much at this time of year. I challenge you to not to make any New Year’s Resolutions for 2008. Instead, take the most important goals and begin laying the groundwork on how you can achieve them this very minute. That way when 2009 arrives, instead of rehashing the same New Year’s Resolution list you are currently thinking about, you will be checking off a list of goals that you accomplished in 2008.
Image courtesy of seeks2dream