New Year's Resolutions: Are They Hurting or Helping?

Updated: Nov 19, 2018

Written by: Coach Sara


When 2016 was getting ready to come to a close, I began noticing quite a bit of controversy over New Year's Resolutions - whether they were a good or a bad thing,

whether they helped to create success, or were actually contributing to failure.

Personally, I've always been pretty neutral on this topic. Some years I've made resolutions, and other years I just kind of say, "I'd like to try this in the upcoming year". Even if resolutions are proven to contribute to failure, I'm a firm believer in failing in order to succeed, so that doesn't necessarily stop me from setting goals.


Below are my pros and cons to help better understand what we're getting ourselves into when we make New Year's Resolutions.

Let's dive in!

Pros:

  • Setting goals ensures growth.

  • Jump start a trend of betterment - Some people need an extra push! Not everyone is easily motivated, so something like a new year approaching can help give that extra motivation needed to accomplish new goals (a new year kind of feels like a fresh start!)

  • Reflection - Looking back so that the view looking forward is even clearer. When we sit down and think about the things we want to change about our lives, or ourselves, we're forced to reflect upon the way things have been in the past. Reflection is a key component of growth. To quote Margaret J. Wheatley, "Without reflection, we go blindly on our way, creating more unintended consequences, and failing to achieve anything useful". If we want to be better, if we want to make a change, we must recognize what it is that needs improvement. The more reflective you are, the more effective you are!

Cons:

  • Most New Year's Resolutions fail.

  • The idea of "yearly improvement" - Setting a New Year's Resolution can teach us to only set goals at the beginning of a new year, instead of constantly setting and chasing goals year-round, ensuring continual growth.

I don't see anything wrong with setting New Year's Resolutions, even if there are some negatives to it. I try to set yearly, monthly, and daily goals for myself to establish a sense of consistent improvement and accomplishment.

Below are some of my tips for setting goals:

  1. Set goals that are ideal and realistic to better your chance for success - Short term goals, especially, should be set reasonably, and more realistically, than long term goals. For example: I made a goal to add more cardio into my workout regimen. I have never been a big fan of running, so I knew that I shouldn't make my goal "go running 3 times a week". Instead, I set a goal to do 30 minutes of cardio (any kind) 5 days a week (My Fitbit helps me keep track of this). By no means am I saying that you shouldn't aim big, just keep in mind that if you don't enjoy the process, you're not going to stick to it.

  2. The more times you try, the more likely you are to succeed - Instead of only setting new goals once a year, set multiple goals throughout the year. Whether they run parallel or not, you are more likely to accomplish several goals even if some fail.

  3. Start small and plan for obstacles - If you prepare for bumps in the road and don't set your expectations too high, you wont be so thrown off when a hiccup occurs that you'll want to throw in the towel. Start small, plan ahead, and you're more likely to succeed!

Whether you are a fan of setting New Year's Resolutions or not, we should always strive to set goals for ourselves in our work lives, as well as our personal lives. Setting goals helps ensure continual growth. Even if we don't accomplish many of the goals we set, we are still learning and reflecting in the process. Sometimes the journey is better than the destination. The destination is always worth the journey. Meaning: Set goals. Aim to be better. Strive for greatness. Grow. Even if you don't get where you set out to go, you'll have gained so much along the way!

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