Why New Year’s Resolutions Don’t Work – And What To Do Instead

New Year equals a chance to create a new you. That’s the message of the moment, right? There’s just one problem – IT’S A LOAD OF RUBBISH. It’s tempting to see a new year as a clean slate and an opportunity to kick-start big changes and transformations. It’s compelling to use resolutions as the method to help you get there. Unfortunately, the odds are stacked against you.

Chances are the New Year’s resolutions you’re passionate about now won’t last out the month.

Instead of those resolutions creating permanent change, you’ll be back into your old routines and rituals. By February (maybe even earlier), you’ll beat yourself up and start dreaming about the next time you’ll try – when things really will be different.

But why is it so hard to leverage the New Year to help you achieve the things you want?

The simple answer is New Year’s Resolutions DON’T work.

Want to know why?

Then keep reading to discover the SEVEN reasons New Year’s Resolutions are destined to fail – and what you should do instead to create the change and transformation you crave.

1. New Year’s Resolutions leave you overwhelmed

If you’re like most people, you’ll want to create change in more than one area of your life.

You want more money, a fitter body, a more passionate relationship, a bigger business, a more fulfilling job or career – the list goes on.

But in this age of instant gratification, we don’t want to wait. Instead, we want it all NOW!

The problem is success doesn’t happen overnight. Instead, big achievements are the result of consistent action over a period of time. If you try to do it all now, you’ll feel so overwhelmed, you won’t know where to start. This overwhelm creates mental fog, which prevents clear thinking and pushes you back into what you know.

Using New Year’s resolutions to make big strides feels tempting, BUT you’ll enjoy far more success with baby steps. That’s why we advocate 3-month goals instead of New Year’s Resolutions.

Set a 3-month goal and you’ll keep your finish line in sight. As a result, you’re less likely to procrastinate and more likely to keep hustling. Close the gap to your goal with consistent daily action and you’ll move the needle further by leveraging the compound effect.

With a 3-month goal, you won’t be done in by February. Instead, you’ll be halfway to a meaningful achievement, which you can leverage to build momentum for your next steps. It’s how you can create massive change without burning out.

2. You have no clear plan of action

New Year’s Resolutions are usually intangible or vague. For example, you say you’re going to lose weight, launch a successful side hustle, or make more money.

The problem with these statements in they’re intentions. They’re not clearly articulated goals and therefore you have nothing to get your teeth stuck into.

How will you know you’ve lost enough weight or earned more money? How will you know when your side hustle is successful? Without a clear focus, you can’t take focused action. And without focused action, your dream will never become a reality.

That’s why we recommend turning your New Year’s Resolutions into SMART targets. This acronym stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-Bound.

So instead of a New Year’s Resolution that says, ‘I’ll lose weight’. You create a SMART target that says, ‘I’ll lose 16 lbs by March 30th.

16 lbs is specific and measurable. It’s also an achievable and realistic amount to lose by your deadline. With your SMART target set, you have a goal you can measure and track your progress against.

What are the chances you’ll succeed now?

3. You hate change (even the change you say you want)

Humans instinctively resist change because change represents the unknown where it may no longer be safe.

Survival is the primary objective of your brain so anytime you step outside your comfort zone, fear will show up and try to stop you. Fear can be valuable because it flags up potential risks and dangers. It helps you better prepare for the road ahead by anticipating challenges so you can plan your way around them.

But fear also throws in self-doubt. It fuels the inner critic and it drives those internal dialogues where you talk yourself out of taking action.

If you’ve ever had a knock of confidence, you’ll know how much harder it can be to take the action you need to win.

It’s another reason New Year’s Resolutions set you up to fail. Without a system to keep you implementing consistently, fear is going to stop you in your tracks – pushing you back into the status quo that you know.

It’s another reason why consistent daily action is a winning strategy. Take baby steps that allow you to thrive in discomfort daily. Soon the change you need to create is habitual – it becomes your new norm and therefore has a chance of lasting. Far better than dipping your toe in every now and again!

4. You forget to enjoy the process

The end result of achieving your New Year’s resolution is a destination that’s maybe 3, 6, or even 12 months down the line… perhaps even longer.

Most people don’t have the patience to see it though.

They stick firm for the first few days or weeks, but as willpower and motivation wane, the enthusiasm to keep implementing starts to evaporate.

It’s the problem of obsessing about the end result. The things you want are somewhere out there in the distant future, whereas you are ‘stuck’ in the here and now. It’s a feeling that causes a lot of friction and resistance – and if you don’t tackle it, you’ll slow down.

You can’t achieve your New Year’s Resolutions unless you commit to enjoying the journey.

It’s why successful people think bigger, achieve more, AND enjoy today.

They commit to their goals, but they also strive to maximize each day along the way. In the words of Zig Ziglar, “What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.”

5. You don’t normalize failure

Ever stuck firm to a New Year’s Resolution only to fall off the wagon and decide it’s not worth carrying on with?

Successful people expect to fail.

In fact, they see it as an inevitably when they’re thinking bigger.

When you step into unchartered waters and push outside of your comfort zone, you’re not going to get everything right. And if you do, perhaps you’re not thinking big enough.

Successful people know a failure is NEVER a failure if you learn something from it. It’s only a failure if you keep making the same mistake over and over again. Truth is, you’ll probably ‘cheat’ on your meal planning. The launch you planned to help hit your revenue target may not deliver. Writer’s block may steal the words from your book and a spontaneous shopping trip with friends may spoil your savings plans.

But that doesn’t mean you have to stop. It doesn’t mean all is lost.

Instead, use the ‘failure’ as a learning experience by reflecting, reviewing, and then move on.

If you want to create change, you better normalize failure. One way to do that is to make each day a win – regardless of what happens. Simply make a note on a daily basis of what made the day a success – however small that win may have been. This practice will keep you motivated and boost your confidence so you nurture and support that part of you that doesn’t want to stop.

6. You don’t know your WHY

We’ve already said it… You resist change because change requires you to step into the unknown and outside your comfort zone.

It’s why you need more than enthusiasm and willpower to keep going with your New Year’s Resolutions. While the feeling of optimism and excitement may get you out of the starting blocks, they won’t take you all the way to your goals.

If you’re to consistently do the hard actions that lie outside your comfort zone, you need to know WHY you want the thing you say you want.

And we’re not talking about a superficial answer such as ‘I want more money’ or ‘I want to be thinner’.

That doesn’t cut the mustard.

Instead, you need to understand at a deep level what’s really driving you and the way to do this is to keep asking WHY – until you get at the truth.

For example, at the surface, you say you want to build a six-figure business to earn more money. But dig deeper and you’ll find there’s another driver. Why do you really want more money? What will more money say about you? What kind of lifestyle will it help you create? What opportunities will 6-figures open up for you?

Discover the deeper WHY and on those days when motivation wanes and willpower is depleted, you’ll find a reason to keep going.

7. You leave too much to chance

Right now, you’re in a groove and you have habits and behaviors that keep that groove intact.

If you want your New Year’s Resolutions to stick, you have to get into a new groove – and as we’ve already seen, that’s not easy! You’ll need to replace outdated habits with those that support your new vision for your life. You’ll need to create new rituals and routines. You’ll need to make time for new activities and to-dos – while eliminating the ones that no longer serve you.

Try to manage all this in your head and you’re going to fail.

When you’re short of time, energy, or ideas, you’ll simply default to what you know – because that’s the easiest way forward.

That’s why you need a planner.

Somewhere you can mastermind your day and allocate your time to ensure your New Year’s Resolutions have a chance to be fulfilled.

  • You won’t make it to the gym if you don’t plan it into your day – something else will take priority
  • You won’t make those sales calls if they’re not mapped onto your calendar
  • You won’t write your book if you try to be creative when you’re all used up for the day

With a planner, you get to pick your priorities and create powerful days that move the needle in the direction YOU want to go.

Ready to make your New Year’s Resolutions stick?

If so, we got you.

The flagship SELF Journal can help make your success inevitable. Use it to mastermind your day, pin down your priorities, and develop the habits, rituals, and routines that help you carve out the life you really want.

Don’t wake up next New Year’s Day frustrated at your lack of progress.

Don’t allow yourself to feel the regret of opportunities lost and another year of same-old, same-old.

Instead, empower yourself to make the things you want a reality. Get yourself the tool that takes the guesswork out of New Year’s Resolutions and turns them into achievable goals that you action on every single day.

Stick to the strategy and you won’t believe where you end up in three months time – let alone a year!

Ready to get started?

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