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  • Susan Fletcher, Ph.D.

Why I Hate New Year’s Resolutions

I love Diet Coke. A few years ago my New Year's resolution was to give up Diet Coke. Shortly after that I decided my future New Year's resolutions would focus on a positive change rather than giving something up. So I changed my resolution to "I will drink more water." But I still love Diet Coke and still drink it occasionally. If I start drinking it too much it's easy to pull back and drink more water.

If you have already started making New Year's Resolutions please don't stop. However, here are a few reasons why I hate them:

  • 12 months is too long. Scientific research says that smaller, short-term goals that can be readily achieved are better than big, long-term goals. Big, lofty goals that are hard to achieve can actually discourage us instead of motivate us. In my case, my resolution should be to drink water instead of Diet Coke for 1 week.

  • Everyone is doing it. The gym is packed. I had to wait in line for a treadmill this week for the first time since last January. By February the gym crowd will drop down to a normal level. If we make too many resolutions all at once and for the wrong reasons (like because everyone is doing it) then it can have a negative effect on our motivation and success.

  • It gives you an excuse to procrastinate. In November you should really eat well and stick to a budget but we end up eating and spending throughout the holidays with the justification that we'll do better beginning in January. People who pick up a cigarette again in March justify smoking the remainder of the year and then set the New Year's resolution once more for the next year. New Year's resolutions can become a delay tactic for making timely changes in your life.

  • January is the worst time to start your New Year's resolutions. Making major changes when you are tired from a busy holiday season instead of resting may mean you don't have the energy to make them work. The holiday bills will start rolling in soon and it can be a time of anxiety and discouragement.

  • January shouldn't be so special. My Director of Client Relations who books me to speak, Zan Jones, disagrees with this statement because her birthday is this month (Happy Birthday Zan-a-Do!). Every day you wake up should be new day. Ask yourself, "What can I do today that will help me achieve my goal." Goals should be made throughout the year. Change and update what you want to achieve after every success and failure.

To stay in the Smart Zone this year don't make any resolutions. Instead take your most important goal, decide what you can do this very minute and work towards it. Enjoy the clean slate that comes with the New Year and do the best you can each and every day.

Happy New Year!

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