They’re a Delay Tactic
First and foremost, these resolutions are nothing more than a delay tactic. They’re an easy way to delay something that you know you should start the moment you think about it instead of waiting until the beginning of the year. Think about it. If it’s important enough that you want to make the change and resolve to do so, shouldn’t it be important enough to begin right that moment? Instead, you’ll wait until the New Year. I believe that if something is important enough to make as a New Year’s Resolution, then it’s something that’s important enough to begin working towards the minute you decide it’s that important. Learn to begin goals immediately. Once you have decided the change you want to make, commit to begin planning how to reach the goal starting that day rather than delaying them to some arbitrary date in the future.
There’s Too Easy an Out
Even worse than the delay, these resolutions provide you with an easy cop-out which allows you to quit and not feel bad about it. 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. At the first sign of difficulty, you’re in an easy position to give up and nobody will say a thing. It’s different if you make solid goals and announce them to friends and family. In this case, they are much more likely to ask about the goals and try to hold you to them. This is especially true if you ask for friends and family to support you in trying to reach them. When you do this, it makes it much more difficult to quit, and you’re more likely to work through those difficult stretches than if you simply make a resolution.
There’s a Lack of Preparation
Another problem with resolutions made at the beginning of the New Year is that they are often made without the proper preparation needed to succeed. The fact is, making successful changes to your life requires a lot of work, stamina and discipline. If you don’t do the initial research and preparations to make sure that your resolution succeeds, you’ll likely never achieve it. Most New Year’s Resolutions are simply statements made without any of the proper planning in place which makes them much more likely to fail.
They’re Too Broad
When the proper planning hasn’t been done, the resolutions people make are often unrealistic because they’re so broad. Achieving goals isn’t instantaneous. 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 going to be able to wipe out all the credit card debt which has been building for years in a couple of months. You’ll need to work at it one step at a time, chipping away at each of the debts that need to be retired. If the resolution remains broad without any focus on the important steps needed to reach the ultimate goal, the resolution will almost always end in failure.
They’re Often Absolute
Another problem is that these 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’re often made as “all or nothing” statements where any deviation means you fail. Life, unfortunately, often deals a number of setbacks on the way to reaching a goal. If there is no recourse on how to proceed when an obstacle occurs, then the goal will likely be abandoned. For example, if the resolution is “I will save $100 a month,” then failing to save a $100 any month can be seen as a failure. If, however, you make a goal to save $1200 with an average of $100 a month, it doesn’t matter if you only save $80 in January as you can make up for it by saving $120 in February.
They’re Made for Wrong Reasons
Too many New Year’s Resolutions are simply made for the wrong reasons. If you’re 100% committed to accomplishing something, then it is a goal worth pursuing. If you are making a resolution because it’s 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’re ready.
It’s Bad Timing
January is a terrible time to start your 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. 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 them to succeed.
There are Too Many Made
This leads to another major problem which is that people make too many 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 quitting smoking makes success impossible. It’s important to prioritize your goals and work on them as time permits rather than mixing them all together at the beginning of the New Year.
They Have a Negative Impact
Over time, New Year’s Resolutions have a negative impact on your motivation and success. When you make resolutions year after year and the resolutions fail year after year, it becomes easy to believe that they can’t be accomplished. These failures at the beginning of each year compile to the point where it’s easy to simply give up on your goals entirely after a while.
They Don’t Work
In the end, New Year’s Resolutions simply don’t work. They are far too often made without the commitment needed for them to work. If you have goals, take the proper steps to do your research, set up a step by step plan, measure your progress, understand there will be setbacks, 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 2014. Instead, take the most important goals and begin laying the groundwork on how you can achieve them this very minute. That way when 2015 arrives, instead of rehashing the same list you are currently thinking about, you will be checking off a list of goals that you managed to accomplish during the year
(Photo courtesy of Jennuine Captures)