Why You Don’t Need New Year’s Resolutions to Set Goals

"Why you don't need new year's resolutions to set goals" is set on a semi-transparent lilac box with fireworks in the background.

“Why you don’t need new year’s resolutions to set goals” is set on a semi-transparent lilac box with fireworks in the background.

Table of Contents

Summary

The pressure to make New Year’s resolutions can be stressful, and it’s common to feel disappointed if we struggle to stick to our goals. However, it’s important to remember that failing is a normal part of the process and that we can make positive changes at any time. The start of a new year is not a magical date that holds any special power, and we have control over our own journey. Instead of relying on resolutions, consider setting specific goals, creating a vision board, and focusing on what makes us happy and motivated to make changes in our lives.

The Pressure and Stress Surrounding New Year's Resolutions

A frustrated person is grimacing with their hand on their forehead.  In the background is a transparent scene of an office party.

A frustrated person is grimacing with their hand on their forehead.  In the background is a transparent scene of an office party.

New Year’s resolutions can be a source of stress for many people. There is often a societal expectation to make a list of resolutions at the start of the new year, and people may feel pressure to set specific goals or make certain changes in order to be “successful” in the new year. This can be overwhelming, especially if you feel like you have to make a lot of changes or achieve a lot of goals in a short period of time.

However, even with the best of intentions, it’s not uncommon to struggle with keeping your resolutions. Maybe you’ve set a goal that is too ambitious or unrealistic, or you’re not making the progress you hoped for. Maybe you’re feeling overwhelmed and like you have to make all of these changes at once. Whatever the reason, it can be disheartening and lead to additional stress if you’re not seeing the progress you want or if you’re feeling like you’re failing.

The Feeling of Failure Sucks

Feeling as if we fail really sucks.  It’s no surprise that failing to stick to New Year’s resolutions can be a common and frustrating experience for many people. According to a study by the University of Scranton, about 25% of people who make New Year’s resolutions fail to keep them within the first week, and about 80% of resolutions fail by the second week of February.  This can lead to feelings of failure and low self-esteem for some people.

It can also lead to negative self-perception and self-doubt. When we fail to achieve our goals or make the changes we want to see in our lives, it can be easy to feel like a failure or to question our abilities. This can negatively impact our mental health and overall well-being.

Failing to stick to resolutions can be harmful by leading us to a cycle of frustration and disappointment. When we fail to achieve our goals or make the changes we want to see in our lives, it can be frustrating and disappointing. The cycle of trying and failing can be demoralizing and lead to a lack of motivation and confidence.

But Failing is Normal

A person stumbling and regaining their balance from their feet catching on a rug.

A person stumbling and regaining their balance from their feet catching on a rug.

It’s important to remember that it’s normal and okay to fail!  We all do it! 

I tend to not even use the word “fail” when referring to my setbacks.  I like to say that I stumbled a bit.  Stumbling is not the same as falling.  When we stumble, we catch ourselves, realign our position, and move forward! 

Why Resolutions Aren't Necessary

I’m not saying that there is anything wrong with setting new year’s resolutions.  I know for many folks it can be a powerful time to reassess goals, commit to change, and feel inspired to start anew.  But the truth is, they’re not necessary at the start of a new year.

You Can Make Positive Changes Anytime

You don’t have to wait for the start of a new year to make positive changes in your life. As mentioned earlier, you can start working towards your goals and making progress at any time. This is especially important to remember if you have a specific goal or resolution in mind that you want to work towards. Don’t let the pressure to make a resolution at the start of the new year hold you back from making progress. You have the power to make positive changes anytime you’re ready.

Additionally, starting to work towards your goals at any time allows you to get a head start on achieving them. Instead of waiting for the start of a new year, you can start making progress right away and get a jumpstart on your goals.

The Myth of the "Special Date"

The practice and history of making New Year’s resolutions dates back to ancient civilizations, including the Babylonians and the Romans. The ancient Babylonians would make promises to their gods in the hopes of gaining favor and starting the new year off on a positive note, while the Romans would make promises of good behavior to the god Janus.

There is No Special Power in the Start of a New Year

There is often the belief that the start of a new year is a magical time where anything is possible and you can make a fresh start.  However, the reality is that there is no special power in the start of a new year that makes it easier to achieve your goals. You can start working towards your goals and making progress anytime you want. There is no need to wait for a certain date or time to start working towards your goals. You have the power to make progress and achieve your goals anytime you’re ready.

You Are in Control of Your Own Journey

It’s important to remember that you are in control of your own journey.  You have the power to make progress and achieve your goals anytime you’re ready.  You don’t have to wait for a certain date or follow someone else’s timeline. You can make progress and achieve your goals at your own pace. 

This is especially true when it comes to making resolutions or setting goals. Instead of trying to fit your goals into a certain timeframe, like the start of a new year, you can set goals and make resolutions based on your own timeline. This allows you to work towards your goals at your own pace and makes it more likely that you’ll be able to achieve them.

Alternatives to Resolutions

Let’s go over some alternatives to resolutions that can be implemented any time.

Setting Goals

Instead of making a list of resolutions, consider setting specific, achievable goals for yourself. This can be a more productive and less overwhelming way to work towards positive change. By setting specific goals, you have a clear roadmap for what you want to achieve and can focus on making progress towards those specific targets. This can help you stay motivated and on track, and can also make it easier to measure your progress and celebrate your achievements along the way.

Tools to Help in Setting Goals

A chalkboard with sticky notes spelling out S, M, A, R, and T. Beneath each is the associated concept: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely.

  1. SMART criteria: The SMART criteria is a framework that can be used to set specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (also known as timely) goals. This tool helps to ensure that your goals are clear and actionable.

  2. Eisenhower matrix: The Eisenhower matrix is a tool that helps you prioritize tasks based on their importance and urgency. It can be helpful in goal setting by helping you identify which tasks are most important to focus on in order to achieve your goals.

  3. Kanban board: A Kanban board is a visual tool that can be used to track progress on tasks and projects. It can be helpful in goal setting by providing a visual representation of your progress and helping you identify what tasks need to be completed in order to achieve your goals.

  4. Habit tracker: A habit tracker is a tool that can help you track your daily habits and routines. It can be helpful in goal setting by helping you identify areas where you can make small, incremental changes in order to achieve your goals.

  5. Time blocking: Time blocking is a technique that involves dividing your day into blocks of time and scheduling specific tasks or activities during those blocks. It can be helpful in goal setting by helping you plan and prioritize your tasks and ensure that you are making progress towards your goals.

Books on Goal-Setting

A colorful stack of books, with the top book fanned out, sit against a blue and white speckled wall.

A colorful stack of books, with the top book fanned out, sit against a blue and white speckled wall.

Here are five books that discuss the importance of goal setting throughout the year:

“Badass Habits: Cultivate the Confidence, Boundaries, and Know-How to Upgrade Your Life” by Jen Sincero helps readers cultivate the habits and mindset to live a more confident, self-assured life with healthy boundaries.

“The 5AM Club: Own Your Morning. Elevate Your Life” by Robin Sharma teaches the power of waking up early and using that time for goal setting and self-improvement. 

“The One Thing” by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan focuses on the idea of “the one thing” that will make all the difference in achieving your goals. It emphasizes the importance of identifying your priorities and focusing on them to achieve success.

“Hello, Habits: A Minimalist’s Guide to a Better Life” by Fumio Sasaki helps readers develop good habits and create a more fulfilling, minimalist lifestyle, aligned with their values and priorities.

The Compound Effect” by Darren Hardy discusses the power of small, consistent actions and how they can lead to significant results over time. It emphasizes the importance of setting clear goals and creating a plan to achieve them.

Making a Vision Board

A vision board is a powerful tool that can help you visualize your goals and aspirations. It’s a collage of images, quotes, and other inspirations that represent the things you want for your life. Creating a vision board can be a fun and creative way to stay motivated and focused on your goals. By seeing your goals and aspirations every day, you can stay inspired and motivated to work towards them.

Vision boards can also be a great way to track your progress and see how far you’ve come. Whether you’re looking to improve your health, relationships, career, or personal development, a vision board can be a valuable resource that helps you stay focused and motivated on your journey.

Check out this great video by One Big Happy Life on how to create a vision board that works.

A vision board can be something you create with photos, magazine cutouts, and other items as shown in the video.  You can also opt to create a digital vision board!  This is a great way to be able to update and make changes to your board.  You can also use the vision board as your desktop background on your computer so you have a constant reminder to motivate you to make more meaningful and authentic changes in your life.  Check out the digital vision board templates offered by Canva!

Conclusion

Goal setting is an important aspect of personal and professional development.  It helps to provide clarity and direction and can motivate us to work towards achieving our goals.  Although making resolutions or setting goals at the start of a new year is a common tradition, it’s important to remember that you can make a resolution or set a goal anytime in the year. You are in control of your own journey and can start making progress whenever you’re ready with the help of tools like SMART goal-setting, the Eisenhower matrix, habit-tracking, and learning more about goal-setting and personal change from books.

Take Action: Share Your Thoughts and Spread the Word

I hope this article has provided some useful insights and alternatives to traditional New Year’s resolutions.  If you have any thoughts or experiences of your own to share, I invite you to leave a comment below. I’d love to hear from you and hear your perspective on this topic.!

Additionally, if you found this article helpful or inspiring, please share it with your friends and followers on social media.  Together, we can support each other as we work towards our goals and make positive changes in our lives.

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