Stop Making New Year’s Resolutions (and do this instead!)
Whenever a new year begins, there’s a lot of talk about resolutions, and I will candidly tell you that I don’t set them.
And today, I’m sharing with you not only why I’m not a fan of New Year’s resolutions, but what I would encourage you to do instead.
Every year as January 1st rolls around, many people sit down and begin planning what they want to resolve to do in the new year. This could be working out more or eating healthier. It could be cleaning your house regularly or reading more.
Whatever the resolution, they get really excited and are fired up for a few days or maybe even a few weeks. There’s a reason why gym memberships produce such a high percentage of their revenue at the beginning of a new year.
But these resolutions, however well intended, are setting you up for failure.
The definition of resolution is a firm decision to do or not do something.
And whether you realize it or not, when you say resolution, it has a sense of firmness or rigidness to it. It happens or it doesn’t. There’s nothing in between.
For example, let’s say that your resolution is to eat healthier in the new year and you start out great. But, on day 5, you don’t feel like having that salad for lunch or things go sideways and you end up ordering pizza for dinner.
What do you do next?
In all likelihood, you’re not giving yourself a break and moving on. Instead, you feel like a failure and give up on your resolution because it’s just too hard. You can’t eat perfectly all of the time, so why bother?
We have this idea that it's all or nothing. It's a firm decision of either doing it or not doing it. So the minute one day doesn't go as planned, we throw the whole thing out the window.
This is exactly why several years ago, I stopped setting New Year’s resolutions.
The author of Atomic Habits, James Clear, explains goals as your desired outcome. You want to write a book. You want to lose 10 pounds. You want to start your business. Those goals are where you want to end up.
Goals are crucial, but as Clear shares in his book, goals are not where you want to spend your time focusing. Where you need to focus is on the system of achieving those goals.
The system is made up of those daily habits that you need to put in place in order to get to your goal.
Rather than focusing on the goal of writing a book this year, spend time breaking down the goal into smaller, actionable steps. Create times in your calendar to write. Plan to draft one chapter per week or a certain number of words per day. Then, create the actual specific time to complete this activity.
Most people spend a lot of time creating dream boards filled with their goals, but then they stop there. And if you're stopping there, the chances of hitting your goals are slim to none.
Instead, you should spend your time and energy creating, testing, and tweaking a system to achieve them.
Notice that I didn’t simply say create your system. You also need to include time for testing and tweaking. Each week, you need to spend a small amount of your time and energy looking at your system to decide what is working and not working and adjust accordingly.
For example, if you plan an hour a day to write your book, but are finding that certain blocks of those times just aren’t doable with your family or your schedule, rather than scrapping the whole idea of writing, you adjust. And you keep making those small adjustments until you find a system that makes sense for you.
It’s not a firm all or nothing. It’s testing and tweaking.
So, as we are wrapping up this year, and moving into next year, I would really encourage you to throw away this notion of New Year's resolutions. And instead, set a goal (or goals) you want to achieve and focus on creating, testing, and tweaking the systems and habits to make them happen.