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Quit Making New Year’s Resolutions

by Tom Sylvester on January 6, 2014 · 8 comments

  
Quit Making New Year’s Resolutions

Sit back and watch the show.  That is what I do every year about this time.

You see, while successful people are just going about their daily routine, a bunch of other people come out of the woodwork and create these “New Year’s resolutions”.  Then for the next few weeks or months they are gung-ho, 100% focused on achieving these resolutions.  At some point they fizzle out, give up, stop and go back to how things were the previous year.  But don’t worry, there will be a new year next year and they can repeat the process.

Does this sound like you?  Someone you know?  Did you feel offended while reading that previous paragraph?  If so, maybe it is time for you to STOP making New Year’s resolutions and start being successful.

The Problems With New Year’s Resolutions

They Get Made on a Whim

When people make resolutions for the new year, they typically make them close to the new year and it is based on whatever they are thinking at that time.  After people fatten up on holiday meals, or look at their bank account/credit card statement, it is no wonder that some of the most popular resolutions revolve around losing weight or making/saving more money.  These resolutions are not tied to long and short term goals.

They Are Not Part of the Larger Context

Speaking or goals, it is important to derive our actions from our goals so that the actions will drive us towards achieving our goals.  When resolutions are made without looking at the larger goals, they may not align and therefore not work towards achieving the bigger goals.

They Are Often Vague

As mentioned, top resolutions are often “lose weight”, “make more money” or “spend more time with family”.  These are not SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-Bound).  Without adhering to the SMART criteria, it is difficult to see visible progress and know when the goal has been achieved.

They Don’t Last

Because of the above reasons (and others), most resolutions do not last.  The gym is crowded in January, but back to normal levels by March.  A bunch of new “We Buy Houses” go up in February, but by summer they all disappear.

What Successful People Do Different

So how can you avoid defining a resolution and giving up or quitting on it a few months in?  Check out of the tips and practices that successful people use.

They Know Their “Why”

I’ve said it time and time again, and I will say it again here.  Successful people know their “Why” or driving factor.  You why has to be strong enough to keep you motivated and get you through those hard times and failures.

They Have Ongoing Goals

Successful people do not just create goals on January 1st.  Instead, they always have goals and are always adding/dropping or adjusting to them.

They Track Progress & Review Often

I love those maps that they have at the mall.  You know, the ones with the map of the mall and a big star saying “You are here”.  Goals and tracking progress work in the same fashion.  By having a goal and frequently tracking the progress, you will always know where you are in terms of achieving that goal.  And in some cases you may need to pivot and tweak your approach.  Success people are not afraid to pivot, in part because they understand that things change and they know where they are in relation to achieving their goals.

Conclusion

So maybe the title of this article was a little too harsh.  New Year’s resolutions can be good if they are tied to larger goals and used a checkpoint for those goals.  Often times people fail with the resolutions is because they have not created SMART goals and taken the right steps to achieve success with them.  Make this year different.  Create your goals (I like to use 10 years, 5 years, 3 years, 1 year, 6 months, 3 months, 1 month), create actionable steps with measurable checkpoints and make this year different than the rest.  Make this year the year of your success.

Have you been able to achieve your resolutions or goals?  What tips/stories can you share with others?
Photo Credit: jeff_golden

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Michael Sadler January 6, 2014 at 3:04 pm

Thanks for this practical article Tom!

I think it’s great to be setting goals on an ongoing basis. :D

Reply

Tom Sylvester January 9, 2014 at 7:47 pm

Glad you found it useful and I agree 100%!

Reply

Steve January 6, 2014 at 3:44 pm

This sounds very much like you are a fan of “The Millionaire Real Estate Investor.” I did base my resolutions on my BIG WHY so that I wouldn’t drop them. Rather than them being a be-end-all my resolutions are merely steps towards my big why. After reading this book and “Think and Grow Rich” my goal setting has changed so that I allow myself to set goals as far as my imagination may take it. I never did relate to the idea they teach in school of “SET BIG GOALS… but not too big so you don’t let yourself down.” Instead, I’d much rather set myself up for a huge giant goal, that I know I will fail at and will take a long time, but I can still say that I’m succeeding as I approach my big overarching goal.

Reply

Tom Sylvester January 9, 2014 at 7:48 pm

Yes, I am a big fan of both books that you mention. We focus on setting Big Hairy Audacious Goals (BHAGS) and set smaller goals that contribute towards them.

Reply

Greg January 7, 2014 at 2:00 pm

I couldn’t agree more. I wrote something like this myself.
http://blog.greglturnquist.com/2014/01/why-i-dont-much-care-for-new-years.html

Reply

Tom Sylvester January 9, 2014 at 7:55 pm

Nice. Love to see other people spreading the word as well. Find your motivation and just start! No need to wait for a special occasion.

Reply

Ali Boone January 9, 2014 at 12:11 am

I love this! It’s totally true about New Year’s resolutions and how 4 out of 5 people who make them fail at them. There is a whole psychology behind it all and it goes back to you can’t just change a behavior, you have to change the real desire behind it first (like, for real, not just superficially) and then slowly graduate to the full change through implementing smaller ones and building up.

Great read.

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Tom Sylvester January 9, 2014 at 7:54 pm

Thanks for the comment Ali. When I coach people, I always start with identifying their motivation (aka their why). So many times when people fail (especially New Year’s resolutions), it is because their “why” was not strong enough/more important than the alternative.

PS – I love your posts as well. I often have to scratch a post of my “To Write” list because you already covered it.

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