Why You Shouldn’t Make a New Year’s Resolution

2015 new yearHappy New Year, everyone. I hope your 2015 is off to a happy, healthy, and productive start.

My last post was in December and was kind of a State of the Union address. Well, the part of the address that states where I’d been and what I’d accomplished. The part of the address that talks about where I’m going and what my new goals are should likely be today. It would include the ubiquitous New Year’s Resolutions.

This may come as a surprise to you, but I’m not making any this year. And I don’t think you should, either.

I’m not trying to tell you what to do. If you do/did make any resolutions, I really hope you hit your goals. But I’m going to tell you why I didn’t, and why I probably won’t ever again.

See, people have a fascination with beginnings. We have a tendency to wait until Monday (the beginning of the week) to start anything new. And if it doesn’t work out on Wednesday, we scrap the whole plan until Monday rolls around again. Starting over on Monday, again and again, is defeating on several levels.

  1. It gives us a crutch to rely on.
    If we know we have another beginning coming up, we can scrap our resolution and wait until the next beginning.
  2. It gives the bad habit more of a foothold in our lives.
    Instead of getting right back to our resolution when we falter, we wait until Monday. That just means the behavior we’re trying to modify gets several more days in our lives—instead of just one moment of weakness—and gets more of a hold over us. It also causes more damage to us, because we have those negative effects working on us instead of being immediately suppressed.
  3. Experiencing several defeats makes us fail at other things.
    When we try and fail several times, on some level we start to believe we aren’t ever going to be able to meet our goals. Failing at this one endeavor could cause us to fail on other levels, simply because we’ve taught ourselves that we don’t have what it takes to follow through.
  4. Not following through breaks our spirits.
    Not only do we teach ourselves to fail at other things, we get frustrated and depressed. We can’t understand why we aren’t able to reach our goals, and because of the failure, our opinions of ourselves plummet.

Mondays aren’t the only beginning, though. The new year is the biggest beginning we have. All of our goals are magnified. And so are our failures.

This problem is compounded when we make not just one resolution, but several. (Click to Tweet this idea.)

The new year is our Big Beginning. We spend the end of December evaluating our lives, and we always find things we aren’t happy with. Things we want to change:

  • weight (diet, exercise)
  • health (quit smoking, drinking)
  • appearance (complete image overhaul)
  • employment (get promotion, find new job)
  • home (redecorate, move)
  • car (upgrade for luxury features)
  • future prospects (continue education, save more money, decrease debt)
  • downtime (cut TV, enjoy weekends, relax, vacation)
  • charity (volunteer, donate)

In addition to the problems listed above, the evaluations of our lives lead us to not want to take on one of these issues, but several. If we struggle to initiate a single change on any random Monday, how can we ever hope to make multiple—huge—changes in January? It’s already a difficult time of year. We’re just coming off a holiday season, and our barren rooms without decorations seem stark and sad. We’re entering a stretch of weeks where we have no holiday breaks to look forward to. And (at least in this part of the world) we have nothing but short bleak days, long dark nights, and bitter winter weather to deal with. This is the worst time to try to make any change, let alone many changes… many BIG changes.

Finally, it should be noted that change shouldn’t be dependent on the day of the week or the time of the year.

If we need to make a change, we should do it. Anytime. Not because it’s Monday or January, but because we want to be better people. We’re far more likely to reach a goal if we are motivated by desire rather than time. (Click to Tweet this idea.)

So maybe I shouldn’t tell you not to make any resolutions. Maybe, instead, I should tell you to make them for the right reasons. And if you slip up, don’t wait for a predetermined beginning to start over. Make your own beginning. Right away.

For Writers:
Do you have any resolutions for writing this year? Complete a novel? Get a publishing contract? I wish you the best of luck. If you have any suggestions or progress you’d like to share, I’d love to hear from you.

For Everyone:
If you made a resolution, I wish you all the best. If you want to talk about it, leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you.

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Writer. Editor. Wife. Mom. Daughter. Sister. Friend. Dog owner. Award-winning author and recipe creator. Conservative Catholic with an avid interest in the supernatural. Think all that doesn’t go together? Then you have to get to know me better.

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8 Comments

  1. Staci, I agree with you on so many levels. What I do is set a goal for a day. What I want to accomplish that day, and I set it high so that I’ll work harder. If I don’t finish, that’s okay, cause there’s always tomorrow. But tomorrow has goals too. So that works for me. I found a lot of your reasoning to be things I hadn’t really thought of, but if I could’ve I would’ve. Grin.

    • I never thought about the wisdom of a daily goal. I have weekly, monthly, and yearly goals, but I just kind of jump in every day. You’ve given me yet another pearl of wisdom. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Hi Staci,

    I couldn’t agree more. There’s a reason that resolutions fail most of the time. Like Joan, I set specific goals and business plans at the beginning of the year. I find a lot more success that way.

    Thanks for a great post!

    • For writers, I think a business plan in addition to a series of goals is a fabulous idea. I know you’re trying to go full time this year (best wishes on that, by the way); I’d love to pick your brain sometime about business plans for writers… Unless you want to write a post about it so we all can benefit?

  3. I renewed my resolution which is not to make resolutions. Thanks for validating. 🙂

  4. I quit making resolutions a long time ago. I started calling them goals instead, but without work and determination our goals (and dreams) will remain just that. We’ll never achieve them. I think that, no matter what we do as far as setting goals (or making resolutions), we need to allow flexibility. And, in order to achieve anything, we have to keep pressing on. Glad to have you back posting. 🙂

    • Staci Troilo

      January 9, 2015 at 7:31 am

      Hi, Joan. Glad to be back.

      I agree with you. Resolutions are so easy to break. Goals, however, are attainable… with hard work. I hope you achieve and exceed all your goals this year.

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