Scott H Young

Why New Years Resolutions Suck


The year is almost up and with it will come a whole new round of resolutions. Frantic attempts to change habits, make commitments and radically shift the direction of your life. A hopeful new outlook on the upcoming year. Unfortunately, most New Years Resolutions suck.

The vast majority of New Years Resolutions fail to make it past a few months and many crash and burn within weeks. I’ve seen many different cited figures ranging from a ninety-five to ninety-seven percent failure rate. With such incredibly low odds of success I think it is an amazing testament to the optimism of people that they still keep making them, year after year.

Do I believe that change is impossible? That you should just give up because the chances of making that resolution stick are low? Of course not. I created this website because I believe dramatic change is possible for everyone and it is the philosophy from which I live my life.

I believe the true problem lies in the process of setting a resolution itself. I think the whole process of making a commitments for the next year is so horribly flawed it is almost doomed to failure. So why exactly do New Years Resolutions suck?

Reason One: Expecting Spontaneous Changes

Sorry, Tony, I ‘m going to have disagree with you on this one big-time. Massive life changes do not happen in an instant. Epiphanies are rare and the great majority of personal change results in steady optimization and improvement.

Within all of us are certain personality traits and belief systems. Courage, discipline and the proper attitude are deeply ingrained in your psyche. It is for this reason that creating a change in momentum and direction often takes time. Unless you have more discipline than you did for your last resolution, how do you expect to stick with it?

Sometimes change appears instantaneous. Accumulated efforts and changes in mindset can slowly accumulate until a certain moment causes the results to show themselves all at once. This can definitely happen, but expecting a sudden reaction to change your life is a weak prayer. Focus on steady improvements and the lightbulb flashing moments and rapid changes will take care of themselves.

If you want to make the change having the attitude: “I might fail a lot, but I’m going to keep picking myself up, learning from the experience and continuing to do my best.” Having the attitude that everything will change in an instant is only useful if you have magic powers.

Reason Two: No Plan of Action

I’ve said before that I believe the majority of your obstacles don’t exist in the world, they exist in your mind. But what do people inevitably plan for? The real world obstacles! They completely ignore all the mental ones that often prove themselves to be far more difficult and challenging.

If you plan to lose weight, getting that fancy tracksuit and a gym membership are important steps, but they pale in comparison to determining how you are going to keep yourself motivated.

Has your New Years Resolution plan ever looked like this?

1, 2, Magic = Success
You can look at that and laugh, but that is how most people plan to make big changes. Ask them how they are going to stay motivated and they might give you shrug. Ask them how they are going to handle spontaneous obstacles like getting sick or injured, holidays or extra work and they might just look at you with a confused expression.

Your plan shouldn’t have an “Insert Magic Here” step. Every part of it should logically flow from one part to the next and offer assistance to ensure you stay committed to the path.

Reason Three: Lack of Proper Technique

Technique is rarely the problem in creating a lasting habit or change. What using proper technique does do is it ensures you have all the proper ingredients to make a change. Like baking a cake, having the proper technique ensures that all your ingredients get added to get the result you want.

If you have the right ingredients, you can make change no matter what technique you use. All proper technique will do is make sure you didn’t forget to add the yeast or flour to your cake before you try to bake it. No magic, just a little check-list before you head off into the world.

If you want to start making effective changes for 2007, I’ve written a lot about different techniques that can help. Here is a starter list of articles that may give you an extra edge:

Habitual Mastery (Series) – Creating lasting habit changes.
Goal Setting (Series) – How to properly set goals that stick.
The Seven Keys to Leverage – When willpower just isn’t enough.
How To Recover From a Broken Commitment – What to do if you slip up.

If you still want more, I recommend Anthony Robbins and Brian Tracy. They both offer excellent programs on making changes. I may disagree with Tony’s excessive hype about making changes instantly but the guy does have some very solid techniques for making changes.

The road of growth and success is a rough and difficult one. You can go down it, but it inevitably will mean a lot of initial scrapes and bruises as you learn. Work hard and aim for incremental improvements. Plan out your road map to success and take time to prepare for mental obstacles. Find an effective technique and practice it out.

In the end, you should stop making New Years Resolutions. Resolutions of growth, change and improvement aren’t an annual event. They are something you should be doing every day of your life. They are a way of thinking about the world.


Print Friendly
StumbleUpon It!

This website is supported, in part, by affiliate arrangements (usually Amazon). Affiliate relationships are always marked by bolded links.


7 Responses to “Why New Years Resolutions Suck”

  1. Mike says:

    I tend to agree for the most part, Scott. An annual time for reflection and goal setting might be a good thing if it were not for it being merely a cultural “gotta do” kind of thing. In fact, I do this very kind of “New Year’s Resolution,” listmaking and reflection annually, but at a time that seems to make more sense for the purpose – my birthday!

  2. Scott Young says:

    Mike,

    Apparently great minds think alike. If you check back in the archives around August, you’ll see my own yearly review on my birthday.

    Reflection over a longer period of time is fine. The problem is when making changes in our life becomes an annual effort rather than a daily habit.

  3. GREAT article Scott, I couldn’t agree with you more. I don’t set resolutions any more either, though I do find myself reflecting at year end more than at any other time because it’s the only time I take a week or more off at a time.

  4. Tabs says:

    Great blog! I love reason two, the diagram is accurately depicts most people goal setting process, especially when it comes to New Year’s resolutions.

    It is true that there are no contingency plans in most goal setting processes most of the time we plan step by step in chronological order what we want to do and never plan for the things that blindside us. These are the things that usually knock us way off our goal’s path.

    Thanks for the reminder.

  5. […] burn yourself out a week later. For some people it’s an annual event, usually starting about January 1st. Diets that crash in a month. Financial plans that aim to hit your first million in a year. Like a […]

  6. […] a life plan.  Succeed through a much bigger picture than a simple New Year Resolution. 12. Scott Young – Why New Years Resolutions Suck And oldie, but a goodie. Scott explains why there’s a problem in the process of setting […]

  7. […] Image from Scott Young’s blog here. […]

Debate is fine, flaming is not. Pretend that this comment form is a discussion taking place in my house. That means I enjoy constructive criticism and polite suggestions. Personal attacks, insults and all-purpose nastiness will be removed especially if it is directed at other readers.

Leave a Reply