Don’t Make These 3 Classic New Year’s Resolution Mistakes

A new year invariably brings new resolutions, but notoriously, they typically don’t last long. In fact, according to this Inc. article, “Approximately 80 percent of people who make New Year’s resolutions have dropped them by the second week of February.” But, that doesn’t mean that there’s no benefit in taking time at the start of the year to step back, reflect on the previous year and set some goals for the new one. When you do though, avoid these three all-too-common resolution pitfalls.


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Mistake #1 – Being too vague

While it sounds great to proclaim that you’ll lose 15 pounds or save $10,000, those goals may not be specific enough to motivate consistent action. Particularly, if you’re noticing the same lofty goals (perhaps the same 15 pounds, ahem…) show up on your list of resolutions year after year, think this time about breaking down a few key strategies or actions that will help you reach that ultimate goal.

Let’s say your ultimate goal is losing 15 pounds. Here are ways you might break that down into immediately actionable, achievable steps.

  • Document eating (all meals and snacks) in a food diary app before bedtime every evening
  • Eat one serving of fruit with breakfast every day
  • Drink a glass of water before each meal
  • Ride the exercise bike for 30 minutes before 8 a.m. every weekday morning

Mistake #2 – Picking goals that sound good but aren’t really you

Yes, it may sound great to say that you’re going to meditate and exercise every morning from 5-6 a.m., but if you’re not really a morning person and you hate meditating, it probably won’t happen, and it probably shouldn’t. Increase the likelihood of sticking with your goal by taking the time to think through the best way to achieve it given your lifestyle, budget and interests.

As an example, there are so many different ways to exercise. While regular rounds of golf and tennis with friends could be a great fit for some, increased dog walking, yoga or even playing soccer with the kids in the evening may fit much more easily into the schedule and lifestyle of others. Remember that these goals are yours so don’t fall into the trap of trying to keep up with the Jones’ or listing items that sound like what you “should be doing.” Take some time to reflect on what you really would like to start doing or incorporate into your routine in 2023.

Mistake #3 – Not being bold enough

Remember that as the saying goes, “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you always got.” Too many fall into the habit of recycling essentially the same goals year after year and that misses an opportunity to really think outside the box and perhaps identify some bold, innovative changes or opportunities. If you feel like you’re in a bit of a “resolution rut,” consider these questions to help prompt new ideas.

  • If you only had a year to live, what are some of the things you’d want to experience or accomplish?
  • Looking back on last year, what gave you the most joy?
  • If you had to pick a different career, what would it be?
  • What have you always wanted to try?
  • What would you do if you weren’t afraid?

A new year offers an amazing opportunity to either build on great momentum or turn the page and embrace a fresh start. While many will just go through the motions and document resolutions that will be long forgotten before spring, consider approaching resolutions slightly differently by taking steps to consciously avoid these three common pitfalls. Instead of trying to accomplish the same five big things you’ve documented year after year, think small, think outside the box and make sure your goals truly represent you. This time next year, you just might be glad you did.

By Dana Brownlee, Senior Contributor

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