Don’t make New Year’s resolutions!


In the last few days I have been asked this a lot: “So Dylan, have you made any new year’s resolutions?”. My reply, “no, I don’t like them”, has surprised a few people. I don’t leave it as blunt as that, I go on to explain what I mean and this is it:

I think the thing about new year’s resolutions is that they are often quite big statements and goals, made on a whim when the spirit of Christmas is still high. A lot of people make them who may rarely set themselves targets at other times of the year. Caught up in the spirit of it all though, they are 100% serious.

Then we all know the story. We start with the best of intentions and gradually the momentum is lost, the bad habits creep back, we beat ourselves up and feel like failures and decide that maybe next year we will have better commitment and will power.

I know I have been here lots and lots of times. Have you? I personally really hate the feeling of a well meant resolution, fizzling out after 3 weeks. It’s like you lose credibility with yourself.

What I have observed in people who have a lot of success in their field, is that it’s not so much about a momentous resolution for them but a daily method of operation. Part of a routine and when improvement is a constant daily thing, it’s less like “today I am like this and tomorrow I am going to be totally different” and more about moving towards a (possibly very large) goal in manageable steps.

A lot of the time, new year’s resolutions are made against a background of Christmas over-indulging and after looking at the bank statement or credit card bill in horror. So it’s no surprise that losing weight and saving money are amongst the most popular. The thing is that these resolutions are not often part of a long term vision. They haven’t been tied in to a bigger picture of change that is worked on constantly.

What the successful do:

If you have read a personal development book or two, then you may have come across the idea of SMART goal setting. This is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-Bound. Without these aspects in place, it is difficult to follow progress and know if it is all working out or not.

Knowing your why-Ok again, this is a much laboured point in the self-development world butCalendar pretty fundamental when you look at it. A nice idea on 1st January just isn’t usually enough. To pull you through the self-doubt, the pain, the hardship and general negativity from other people, there needs to be a driving force, something very personal and emotional that is stronger than the factors that will try to pull you down. Successful people spend time to be very clear on their reasons.

Goal setting is constant-The successful are in a state of continual improvement, change, re-evaluation and re-adjustment. Rather than being a drifting, rudderless boat with a wake-up call once a year at new year, for them, a new year’s resolution is just part of a weekly or daily process of evaluating progress and setting new targets.

So in conclusion, it’s not that I think there is anything wrong with new year’s resolutions. I think the feeling of renewal we get at this time of year is great. We start to think about new opportunities and possibilities of a better year. I just think resolutions are better when instead of being an isolated bold statement, they are tied to larger goals in a continuing process.

Make actionable steps that can be measured and reviewed, with some freedom to adjust where necessary and then new year just becomes a checkpoint along the way. I know I am personally trying to be more this way.

How about you? Feel free to share your opinions and goal-setting tips in the comments section below and if you haven’t yet checked out some of the best guidance out there to explode your earnings online for 2014, enter your details to the right!

To your best year yet.