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4 reasons NOT to make New Year Resolutions

I’m not sure who came up with the idea of New Year Resolutions.  I suppose it’s logical that a new year feels like a new start, so it seems a good time to set some new goals.  The problem is, they seem to be rarely successful.  Here’s why – and why if you haven’t made any this year, you shouldn’t feel guilty:

  1. They are often made in haste.  It’s often on New Year’s night in a party atmosphere, or at least a time of reminiscence, that people suddenly hit on a resolution.  If there’s been no real thought about it, and particularly how it’s going to be achieved, you’re unlikely to stick to it, or really make it happen.  It’s more like a wish you make when you blow out the birthday cake candles – if you’re really lucky it might come true without you having to do anything!  Hmmm…
  2. They are often made under the influence of alcohol or other dubious circumstances.  See above!
  3. The basis for making them is often regret, or at least some sense of dissatisfaction eg “I am overweight so this year I will lose weight”, “Last year I didn’t connect with many friends so this year I am going to be more social”.  This basis of setting goals fails to assess what your real priorities need to be and the reasons why you are not doing those things.  Without some positive vision of what you want going forward, you are unlikely to make the necessary changes.
  4. Resolutions usually stop at a vague statement, like “I will lose weight this year.”  Rarely do people apply the good old “SMART” formula that helps ensure the goal is able to be achieved.  Nor do they develop an implementation plan and a method of keeping themselves accountable for achieving it.

So if New Year resolutions are not a great way to set goals, what is?  Well perhaps a new year is a good time to sit down and do some strategic thinking.  You could ask yourself the following types of questions:

What might your world look like in five years time?

What will have changed and how?

What do you want your future to look like?

Where do you want to be at the start of 2018 – in business/career, personal life, health, financial, lifestyle and so on.

Based on that, where do you need to be next new year ie the start of 2014?

What’s the gap between now and then?

What do you need to take account of, that is likely to happen and be outside of your control?

So what then should your goals be for this year?

How will you achieve them – step by step?

What other information or resources do you need to achieve them?

How will you know if you are on track?

How will you keep your goals top of mind as you go about your daily routines?

These are some of the questions you need to ask yourself and then find answers to, to make successful goals.  But they don’t have to happen at 1 January!  Personally I take most of January to work through this process for my life and business.  Some of my clients prefer to do this at the end of the calendar year in preparation for the next year.  And for some of my clients, it makes more sense for them to do this at the start of their financial year, rather than the calendar year.  You might also choose your birthday month or some other significant time to prepare some annual goals.

So if you didn’t make New Year resolutions, no need to feel you missed out.  And if you did, it’s time to finish the process by answering all these questions and tying down your goals!


Jenni Murphy-Scanlon is an author, consultant and trainer specializing in strategic thinking and leadership. She offers you a free report on ‘How to Think Strategically’ at her website – http://www.strategies-direct.com

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