New Year’s Resolutions? Don’t Do It!

As we flip the calendar to a brand new year, many of us will be tempted to make New Year’s Resolutions. You know, those promises you make to yourself of things you are going to do (or stop doing) that will surely make you healthier, wealthier and wiser . . . all by mid-February. They are probably eerily similar to the resolutions you made last year (and the year before) but this year is it! You are finally gonna stick to your promises and drop that weight or start going to your kids soccer practices or whatever is on your list.

My advice: Don’t do it!

Resolutions are destined for failure. They are short-termed changes to your normal routine that are not tied to any great master plan or goal and they come at the worst possible time of the year. Your body doesn’t care that it’s a new year. And despite the fact that you toasted at midnight (and maybe even toasted a little too hard at midnight) your mind doesn’t care either. Unless your birthday is January 1st, New Year’s Day is just some arbitrary, one-out-of-365 day occurrence that usually features a bunch of college bowl games that you try to get into.  And it’s the worst possible day because so many of us wake up just a bit (or a lot) hung over and want nothing more than a little comfort food and to enjoy the day relaxing. Plus it’s the part of the year with the least amount of sunlight so dragging yourself to the gym in the pitch black is depressing and non-motivational. Spring seems so far away, why not keep these extra 20 pounds on during the winter, right?

But the biggest problem with January 1st is you tie your resolutions to that day, fail in the first two weeks of January (if not the first two days) and then have to wait a-whole-nother year for it to come around.

As they say back in New York where I grew up “Fuggedaboutit.”

You want to make a change in your life? Instead of picking a date to begin by, pick a date to end at. If you want to lose weight, tell yourself, “by April 1st I’ll have lost ____ pounds.” This way when you stumble and have four slices of pizza on January 5th you won’t throw everything out the window and see yourself as an abject failure. You’ll just realize you have to be much better on January 6th to work off all that melted cheese and that delicious crust and that pepperoni that has just the right amount of spices and . . . sorry I was having a pizza fantasy.

You can do this with any “resolution” you are tempted to make next week. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great to have goals. I’m all for them. I never would have grown Elite Entertainment to its current size or run 15 Marathons or published a book last year if I didn’t have goals (and deadlines.) But I’ve learned that tying my “life-changing moment” to some random date on the calendar is merely a recipe for failure. And I don’t want to wait a whole year to get a second shot at success. So set your goals long ways as in: by April I will ____ or by June I’ll have _____. And then figure out a plan to make it happen. And if you don’t get started till January 2nd, don’t sweat it.

4 Replies to “New Year’s Resolutions? Don’t Do It!”

  1. Great advice, Mike. I’ve never been a fan of “resolutions” myself, mainly because no one seems to keep them. They just end up another tool for beating ourselves up.

    I do enjoy the symbolism of the New Year, however, and find that it offers inspiration for re-envisioning my life.

    I’m doing an “Ultimate Scenario” exercise right now, envisioning my life at the next stage in 1-5 years and writing down that detailed scenario. Once that’s done, I’ll boil it down to the specific actions to take each day to make it a reality.

    That’s something I’d add along with having time frame goals and deadlines: daily actions. It’s the small steps we take every day that get us where we want to go.

    Thanks for sharing this!

    1. Thanks Stephanie. I’ve always thought the New Year should begin with the first day of Spring. I’m much more into the rebirth and changes that take place that time of year.

      Your Ultimate Scenario sounds awesome. Good luck with it!


  2. Mike- great post. I am doing a lot of goal setting for 2012. It challenges me but also saddens me a little that apathy and laziness are weighing me down.

    I need to set dates and give myself clear and reasonable timelines.

  3. Great advice, Mike! I quit smoking over 20 years ago using a similar approach. I’m still going to make a few NYE resolutions, but mine will include actual plans to make it happen, not just wishful thinking of “this year will be different!” LOL No setting myself up for failure with unreasonable and arbitrary deadlines.

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