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5 Reasons To NOT Make New Year's Resolutions

By Edited Nov 29, 2015 7 17

On January 1st, millions of us will emerge from our beds with a head full of promises to ourselves and total self-belief that we will achieve whatever we have set ourselves as our New Year's Resolutions. But a few days or, for those more dedicated souls, weeks or months later, the vast majority of us will have achieved very little, if anything at all. So why is this? What is it about New Year's resolutions that almost sets us up to fail? I really don't mean to put a downer on your self-improvement plans. Positive and permanent change is to be commended. But I know that the most permanent changes I have made in my own life have had nothing to do with an arbitrary date. So here are my 5 best reasons why January 1st really is not the best time for self-promises.

1. We promise ourselves too much.

That deadline of one specific date makes many of us write long lists of things we want to improve. Change is best done gradually and we certainly cannot make many changes all at the same time. Changes are best made one at a time, adapting to circumstances as we feel comfortable. By asking ourselves to adapt to too much all at the same time is just setting us up to fail.

2. January is the coldest month for most of the world.

January isn't a natural time for our bodies to make changes. Unless of course you are lucky enough to live in parts of the world where January falls in the middle of the summer. During the winter, we naturally want to store food, rest and hold on until the spring. So many of us suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder too (S.A.D.) The human body does not naturally associate the dark winter with positive change - that should be left for the spring, the period of growth and rebirth. Days are becoming longer and lighter and we are naturally more positive and most likely looking towards the future. Easter time would be a far better time to aim for personal change.

3. Changes are best made when we are truly ready.

It wasn't very long ago that I gave up smoking. Many people tried to make me quit. Many people failed. I half-heartedly tried to make myself give up, but when my heart wasn't really in it I knew deep-down that I would never succeed. I had to wait until I was truly dedicated to the task in hand. I then quit without any problems whatsoever. There is no point in setting ourselves an arbitrary date to try to achieve something that we don't entirely want to do at that moment in time. Success would come easier if we attempted it when we really felt it was right.

4. Being good in January is a bit of a shock after Christmas....

In my household, Christmas is all about eating, drinking and being merry. Lovely. Then January 1st comes along and we suddenly have to be good? That is a bit of a contrast to what has gone before it. It's not exactly as if we are easing ourselves gently into positive change is it?

5. The majority of resolutions are all about what you think you should be doing, not what you really want to do.

Resolutions, more often than not, have a great deal to do with social acceptance. We often aim to become what other people want us to be. Or, more accurately, what we 'perceive' other people want us to be. It's all very acceptable to set yourself a target of 'stop smoking', 'lose weight', 'drink less' - but who are you doing it for? If the reason isn't that you truly want it for yourself, then there is very little chance that you will be able to achieve it. Without true dedication and a real plan, very few resolutions are achieved at all.

So - should I not make any resolutions at all?

I'm not saying that positive change isn't good. We all know that true positive change is fantastic. What is not so good is setting yourself up to fail, using an arbitrary date to set goals you have no real belief you can achieve. All that will happen is that you will end up feeling bad about yourself. My advice? This January, make a list of things you would like to have achieved by the end of the year. Manage them, one at a time and only when you're ready. Check them when you're done. That way you will hopefully have made a great deal of change by the end of the year. It worked for me this year :-)




Dec 6, 2011 10:30pm
great article! i agree with you in that any day of the year can be the day for resolving to change not just an arbitrary day in january. except i'd like to outlaw diets starting on monday. just sayin'
Dec 7, 2011 5:45am
Thanks! I think that maybe I'm partly trying to talk myself out of starting that diet that's overdue... ;-)
Dec 9, 2011 6:28am
Thanks! This year I did one new thing a month - I had a fantastice year. I have a scuba diving qualification and a television appearance in the UK to show for it. I feel I have achieved far more than if I had tried to diet and failed. Thanks for your vote!
Jan 1, 2012 7:24am
Freedom, what a fantastic article and so close to home for me. On my personal blog I have already written almost exactly what you have explained here for my own New Year's plan. I described it as like a bucket list only for the year rather than for life. A "year list!". Seems like I am not the only one with the same idea. Which is quite nice as I still have some cigarettes left and a house full of chocolate. It would be very depressing to not be able to eat or smoke while trapped in the house while New Years Day rains all around us!
Great article, well done,
Nici xxx
Jan 1, 2012 9:23am
Wonderful, well-written, article! In years past, I've tried the whole 'New Year's Resolutions,' only to feel depressed by the end of the first day, when something didn't go as I'd planned, or as I'd promised myself it would! This year my goals are simple...sell my first novel, marry 'Mr. Right,' and have a baby...lol! Oh, well! If we strive to be the best people we can be, each day, work, and PLAY hard, then hopefully, all our dreams can become reality. Happy New Year everyone!
Jan 1, 2012 10:03am
Thank you for your lovely comments - and Happy New Year to you all too!
Jan 1, 2012 2:22pm
#3 says it all. Why wait for a year to make resolutions? The power to change one's perceptions is always available....congratz on the feature.
Jan 1, 2012 2:59pm
Thanks footloose. Happpy New Year to you.
Jan 1, 2012 4:49pm
A much-needed article at this time of the year!
Jan 2, 2012 7:25pm
I never make resolutions at all. Thanks for writing about this. :)
Jan 4, 2012 10:06am
My resolution is to not make any other resolutions. ;)
Jan 4, 2012 4:50pm
Very good article! It really does depend on when the person is ready to make a change in their life. And it seems that they have more success when they don't start in cold cold January! Looking forward to more of your articles! :)
Jan 4, 2012 8:53pm
I don't usually make resolutions. I just make plans that I happen to review around January after some good family time.
Jan 5, 2012 9:10pm
Very smart article and I agree with you, slow and steady is a better way for any changes and Easter sounds just about perfect!
Jan 6, 2012 5:52am
Thank you for all your comments, lovely people! Happy New Year! x
Oct 7, 2012 9:55pm
Freemblogger,Great article.Each day of the year is important.What brings success in life are not resol utions but creating ideas as the day dawns and implementing them.1st January should be the day devoted in assessing our successes or failures of our ideas over the year just ended.
Feb 14, 2013 8:59am
Interesting perspective. Especially point number 2.
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