The Hidden Trap of New Year’s Resolutions


“You might have to fight a battle more than once to win it.” – Margaret Thatcher


The Christmas and New Year’s binge-eating have taken its toll on our clothes. Every single piece we own seems to have shrunken significantly.

Or maybe was our wallet what suffered the excitement of the holidays. We might start to suspect we didn’t need that 60 inch TV after all.

But luckily for us, the beginning of a new year is exactly what we need to turn our lives around.

Our New Year’s resolutions are the opportunity we have been waiting for the whole year, right?

All or Nothing At All

So we buy a gym membership and commit ourselves to exercise three times a week. The first weeks are easy; we are full of excitement and motivation. But as we know, motivation is not the panacea everybody seems to think and can only take us so far.

If we manage to drag ourselves to the gym for a few months without successfully turning our New Year’s resolution into a habit, we are not only wasting our time but we are setting a bad precedent for every single year to come.

At some point during May or July (If we’re lucky) our motivation will run empty and we will give up. Like a car that runs out of gasoline when we are late to work, it doesn’t matter how much we want or need to get to our destination, without fuel our car won’t get us far.

But the real problem with New Year resolution’s is that it implies it’s a once in a year opportunity. If we fail, it’s game over. We cannot dust off and try again. That seems to be against the rules.

As silly as it sounds, this is how most of us approach New Year resolution’s every year.

And the worse is that no matter who we are or how much motivation we manage to gather, we will probably fail at some point.

Not even Neo got it right on his first jump.

Sooner or later, we will fall.

And this is ok. The key to success doesn’t lie in not falling, but in failing and trying again and again and as many times as necessary.

Facing challenges while holding the belief that we will be successful on our first try is naïve and unrealistic.

So when we fail to stick to a gym routine after the first few months, we give up for the rest of the year.

Well, maybe next year.


Monthly Reset

Instead of New Year’s resolution, try setting new month’s resolutions.

Commit every 1st of the month to face a challenge.

Whether is exercising more often, being more cautious about how you spend your money, spending more time with your loved ones or whatever you have tried to achieve and gave up in the past.

If you only make it to the second week of the month, don’t beat yourself. You have made progress in comparison with the previous month. After all, two weeks are better than none. Next time (i.e. next month) you can face the challenge again but with more knowledge. And next time aim for a better personal record (PR).

Don’t try to turn total inaction into a whole year of exercise. Better focus on turning two weeks into three weeks; and then into four.
Before you know it, a whole year will have gone by.


Focus on Your Habits

Goals are the ideas of what we want to get or who we want to become. We might want to get rich or to be fit.

Habits are the actions that turn those ideas possible.

Goals are the mockup of our lives, how we imagine our lives to be in the best case scenario. Habits are the bricks that we must use to build that life.
We often try to build or lives based on our goals and we totally forget to closely watch our habits.

Even better that new month’s goal, aim to develop new month’s habits.


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If you enjoyed this article, you might also like The Urge to Give Up – What It Means and How to Handle It, Start Building Your Dream Life Now, and Perseverance and Self-Discipline.  Check them out and let me know what you think!

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  1. Thanks, this was a great read! I like the idea of monthly resolutions. I have several physical and mental conditions that can make long term goals an impossibility. Sometimes I have to make a commitment to make it through a day, let alone a year. A month is good because if you fail, you don’t have to wait long for a do-over whereas once you have broken a year’s resolution you do just want to give up on it. Thanks for this – lots to process in a positive way!

  2. Thanks for this encouragement. 🙂 Well written post. I find if I fail when I set a goal, it’s usually because I haven’t really thought it through and broken it down into doable steps for me. If I take another swing at it after breaking it down I have a far greater chance of success. I think that’s because once it’s broken down into steps I can be more realistic about the timeline for accomplishing it.

  3. If it comes from your heart and you really seriously want it, you can achieve it. Like they told us when we were kids, “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again.”

  4. I like the idea of a monthly resent. Large changes can happen with small, incremental steps.

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