What Do You Think of New Year’s Resolutions?


This is the time of year where you come up with a list of resolutions for the New Year.

Some want to exercise more.  Others simply want to lose weight.  Some want to save more money, while others want to get out of debt.

What do you think of New Year’s resolutions?

I’m not sure what to think, to be honest.

On the one hand, I think it’s important to have goals.  A great goal that you follow through on give you guidance and something to aim your energies towards.

But I think setting a resolution or a goal just because the calendar changed is a bit odd.

Why not set goals throughout the year?

My Problem with Most Resolutions


If you look up some studies and statistics on New Year’s resolutions then you quickly see how dismal the success rates are.  Many don’t even keep at their resolutions through February, no less the entire year!

And most who create a resolution make it way too general, like “I want to lose weight,” or ” I want to save more money,” or “I want to get out of debt.”

But do you see the problem with these resolutions?!?

They sounds great but they are too general.  The goals have no focus and as a result, they are difficult to follow through on.

So what happens after you fail to keep your resolutions?

I’ll tell you.  You feel like crap.  You failed and you feel like a failure.  You feel guilty for not keeping your resolution.  You lose confidence in yourself for not completing what you said you would.

How is that healthy?

Make Your Goals S.M.A.R.T.

If you truly want to make a change in your life and set a goal, make it SMART — Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, and Time-bound.

The idea is to really get your head around what your goal is and figure out how you are actually going to achieve the goal.

You need to know exactly what is is you want.  Figure out what satisfies your goal (for example, if you want to lose weight, how much weight do you consider a success?).  Make sure you can actual work towards your goal and you can act on what you want.  Give yourself a limit to when parts of your goal must be done by.  Break your goal out into smaller pieces that will be steps towards the larger goal.

Try it for 30 Days (or 60 Days)

Another method to use is to try something for 30 days.  Well actually about 66 days.

Some research has shown it takes about 21 days or so for an action to become a habit, where we no longer have to fight our willpower in order to do something.

In 2009, researchers from the UK Health Behaviour Research Centre found that it takes, on average, 66 days to form a new habit.

No wonder most people fail at their resolutions!  You need about 2 months of practice towards your habit or goal in order for it to come automatically.

But it still can be done.

Starting with one week, one month, or 66 days is a start and a step in the right direction.  Use with SMART and you give yourself a better guide to make sure you will follow your resolution.

Always Look to Improve

happy new year

What are your thoughts on New Year's resolutions? Do they work?

I mentioned earlier that I don’t think a calendar change into the New Year should trigger a flux of goals in people.  Honestly, I think we should always be looking to improve ourselves.

If you find there is an area in your life that could use improvement or change, take the steps to do it.  Don’t wait on the New Year, or any other time, to start.

Don’t let the calendar be an excuse to wait.

And don’t worry if you don’t get it perfect right away.  Life changes and we aren’t perfect.  Work towards your goals and make adjustments as you go along.

Change is Good

I think a big part of us being human beings is that we can makes changes in what we are.  We don’t have to sit back and resign ourselves to being the same all the time.

Bad habits can be hard to break, but they can be broken.  I don’t believe in the saying “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”

Maybe it’s because I’m still relatively young.  But to me, if we can’t change then that’s truly sad and we lose out  on a big part of our humanity.

We are ALL awesome!  Really, I mean that.  There is something incredible inside each of us, we just have to find out how to make it show.

I’m going off on a bit of a tangent.

It’s just that it bugs me when I see people saying they want something different and I know they won’t really do what it takes to make the change.

Maybe it’s because I’m afraid of change too.

I don’t want other people to feel the same way I have (and sometimes still do).  There have been plenty of times I’ve felt lost or stuck, and didn’t think I could really change my circumstances.

Other times change has just been plain scary.  Hell, it still is.

But as I’ve aged I’ve realized that I’m the one who controls my fate.  If I don’t take control then who will?

Change can happen if you really want to make it real.

That’s All Nice but What Does that Have to do With Personal Finance?

What’s among the most common New Year’s resolutions you hear?

Lose weight and exercise more.

How many times have you heard someone say that as a resolution?

So what happens?  People go out in droves and gobble up gym memberships.  They set up monthly fees that get pulled from either their checking accounts or their credit cards.

Now imagine this — For many people, they’ve just set up a gym membership in January, one of the coldest months of the year, full of short days.  It’s freezing out and all you want to do is get home after work.  Are you going to the gym to sweat?  And come home in the freezing dark, wet?

Do you see why the whole gym membership in January just might not work?  We’re set up for failure!

And it’s a drain on your finances!

Other common resolutions are to save more and eliminate debt.

These after a holiday season of buying gifts.  You get that first credit card bill in January and you wonder how you will ever pay off the prior month.

Failure again.

Not that you shouldn’t set goals.  Just that you have to set them up in a way that you can achieve them, which I don’t think most people do.

What are your thoughts on New Year’s resolutions?

Do you make them?  Do they work for you?  How do you follow through?

Or do you just not bother with them?

Let’s get a conversation going in the comments!

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Published or updated July 14, 2013.

Comments

  1. Resilience is the word and the talks comes to change!

    Plan, Do, Check and Act!

    But it really prefer the SMART method!

  2. I’m still trying to decide if I want to set hard and fast resolutions. I like the idea of making goals throughout the year, so I might stick with that. I think I can get more done like that rather than focusing on a few things that I should be doing anyways!

  3. I don’t usually make them. This year I have financial goals, but I don’t think you could call them resolutions.

  4. I think New Year’s resolutions are inherently failure-prone. If something is important to you, you’d already be doing it, routinely.

    By its nature, an annual resolution means you recognize something is perhaps important or beneficial, but for whatever reason, it’s not gotten high enough in your priority list to make it happen. Thinking that simply by making a resolution something will magically become a higher priority–for more than a few weeks–is kidding yourself, I fear.

  5. Normally, I see no reason to wait for a particular date to set or establish a goal. That is what a New Year’s resolution is! I routinely start goals almost everyday, so why wait for the 1st of January.

    • I agree. And I think what happens with most New Year’s resolutions is people make a list of things they want to do and end up not able to focus on all of them.

      Better to have one goal and put your energy into making it happen.

  6. I agree — self improvement can come at any time and should be an ongoing process.

  7. I do them or die. There is no other alternative!

    S

  8. Personally, I think New Years resolutions are ridiculous. Often times they are made simply because people think it’s easier to start making changes on that specific day, regardless of when the idea to change actually popped into their head, which is counterproductive to me.

    It’s so much easier to start implementing a plan or course of action the minute it is thought of rather then waiting for a particular date to do so. By waiting there is an inherent risk to forget about it or allow life’s natural process of getting in the way of things to throw everything off track. The best way to go about resolving to do something is simply to make the resolution and start acting on it immediately.

    • Exactly. I’d even say that resolutions are excuses to NOT do something. Like when someone says “I’ll watch what I eat once the New Year rolls around.” That’s an excuse to not start now and odds are they won’t really follow through when the calendar changes.

  9. Have you seen Matt Cutts video on TED about doing something for 30 days? It is amazing. Everyone should definitely check it out. It fits right into what you are saying about resolutions. http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/en/matt_cutts_try_something_new_for_30_days.html

    • I saw it was out there but haven’t watched it yet. I’ve followed some of the things he’s done via social media and it’s awesome.

      This is now on my To Do list. Thanks for the link Hank.

  10. I set business, personal improvement and personal finance goals all year long. However, I also set new year resolutions. The switching up of a calendar gives me a feeling of newness and I typically focus the resolutions on fun things that I want to incorporate into my life like monthly massages, renovation projects, organizational enhancements for the home. I don’t typically look at these as achieve or fail goals, they are more fun nice to have things that I work towards.

    • That’s a nice attitude to have. I think we all have some things we would like to do but aren’t critical to our happiness. Having a reminder, like a soft goal, can help us remember it.

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