Six Ways to Make Sure Your New Year's Resolution Fails

  1. Make it vague. Lots of folks make resolutions like, Get in Shape, or Get Organized or Stay in Touch with Friends. What the heck do any of those really mean to you? Specificity is extremely important because at some point — on January 2nd perhaps, you’re going to have to dive into this task. If your plan is vague, or non-existent, you won’t know what actions you need to do. And coming up with those actions every day on the fly will be overwhelming and too time consuming.
  2. Make it a huge stretch. For instance, a couch potato deciding to complete an Iron Man Triathlon. Or going from being unemployed to starting your own business and making your first year revenue goal a million dollars. I’m not saying that can’t be done. Somebody somewhere may have done just that. But for the majority of people, that kind of goal is just too big of a stretch. A person has to be extraordinarily motivated and driven to achieve goals of that magnitude. If you have a history of making these big leaps then go for it, but otherwise you might be better off pulling back a bit and making the goal a stretch but not an extreme one.
  3. Make your resolution for the entire year. Whoever said that a resolution has to be for an entire year? That, my friend, is a long time to have looming out in front of you. What about picking a shorter duration like a week, or a month or 45 days. At the end of that time period you can celebrate your success, maybe take a day off from whatever you’re doing (or not) and then re-commit (or not).
  4. Make it complicated and multi-part. For example, deciding to increase your client base, volunteer at your local food bank, exercise 4 days a week, eat healthier, meditate every day and learn to speak Italian. That’s an awful lot of stuff to be packing into a schedule that’s probably already pretty busy. (Plus, some of those are pretty vague, too.) What about taking just one of those things per month and adding only that one new behavior to your current commitments?
  5. Make it do or die. You know what might happen? You might make a reasonable, thoughtfully planned resolution and do pretty well for a couple of weeks or a month and then stop doing the new thing. The enthusiasm is gone. Or maybe you’re not seeing the results — physical, psychological or financial — that you were hoping for. Who says you can’t re-start? Pick any day and give it a go again. It doesn’t have to be a first day of a month or a Monday. Just start whenever you’re re-motivated. You’re not a failure. Every day of any year is a chance to start again with renewed commitment.
  6. Make it lonesome. You may be a lone wolf and in that case going it solo is preferable. But many people do better with a comrade or several. I’ve been trying to get myself to write every day for several years and found the thing that keeps me going. It’s a website called and everyone on it has a goal to write. No matter what you want to accomplish I’ll bet there is a group in your community or on the web where you can connect and get as little or as much support as you want.

This is the perfect time to look back on the year and see what worked for you and what changes you resolve to make next year.  It doesn’t have to be complicated, grueling, lonely or all vs. nothing. Just a little change can make a big difference.

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