Psych Central


Setting Yourself Up for Failure: 5 New Year's Resolutions to Avoid MakingAh, New Year’s. The time to make resolutions… and then throw them out the window a month later, as we fail to stick even just one of them. I mean, why do we even bother making resolutions in the first place?

To complement all the great things that have been written about how to make and keep good New Year’s resolutions, I thought I’d also share some of the absolute worst New Year’s resolutions you can make.

You should avoid making these kinds of resolutions, because most people simply won’t keep them.

8 Comments to
Setting Yourself Up for Failure: 5 New Year’s Resolutions to Avoid Making

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  1. Great suggestions for making NY resolutions that might be possible & empowering, rather than causing discouragement & disempowerment, when they are just unrealistic.

  2. Excellent advice! Another common mistake is not telling anyone about your goal. This makes it easier to hit the “snooze button” when the deadline comes. Announcing your goal to a friend or a family member can help increase the likelihood of success.

  3. With regard to #1, I’m afraid that’s not entirely so. While it’s true that every decision *not* to eat a box of Cheez-Its or *not* to buy a fresh pack of cigarettes, those little victories are part of a larger attitude change. One cannot taper off cigarette smoking or sneak diet violations here and there and expect success.

    • Sorry the point of #1 was that you were going to make an incredible, significant change in your life in less than 30 days… that’s the unrealistic part.

      Small goals are important to habit change, as are realistic timeline expectations. After all, it might take a person a year to undo that one habit they’ve had for 10 or 20 years.

  4. The best way to lose weight and make changes is to take it one day at a time. Cut back in baby steps. Maybe right now just cut out one thing like soda or cookies, but replace it with something healthier. “This month I’m going to cut out soda and instead drink water.” But once you get to the end you can’t go back. Also allow yourself an occasional treat. “I can have one 12 oz soda once a week.” That way when you get to the end you’re not desperate.

    Hold yourself accountable, or have a person watching your back. Have a friend who also cuts out drinking soda at the same time. Have a friend to take walks with. Working as a team makes it easier.

  5. Perhaps I’m misunderstanding the objective of the article but a few concerns I had that I’m looking for clarification. First: Not sure why an article about failure resolutions has a picture of get fit, take a trip, quit smoking, lose weight. These are all great and possible goals for 2014. As someone who was a client for many years of psychologists nothing irritated me more then hearing my therapist tell me “that’s not realistic,” yes I understand the science behind small measurable goals leading to larger goals (SMART goals) but whatever happened to “Always aim for the moon, even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars?” If a client wants to set a goal to do something every day awesome! If by chance they falter be the mentor and the coach able to assist them. This process teaches us that failure isn’t absolute that we can fail, regroup, and succeed. A favourite psychologist once said, “The point of therapy isn’t for you to get really good at functioning in my office, it’s to help you to be really good at functioning in the real world.” Failing is part of the real world and a valuable lesson.

    • There’s “good” failing, and then there’s “bad” failing — failing that’s pointless and avoidable. This article is meant to address resolutions that are more likely to lead to pointless failure.

      Good failing, on the other hand, is setting simple, small goals to achieve, and working your best on those small goals. You can fail at them, sure, but you’re less likely to, and when you do, because they’re smaller, they won’t seem overwhelming as when you failed at “trying to lose 20 lbs in 3 months.”

  6. I do not make NY resolutions and haven’t for years. Just doing that alone sets you up for failure. Resolutions can be made at any time.

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