Why Your New Years Resolutions Fail

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We’re well into January, and I’m guessing that by now you’ve already begun abandoning your well thought out and well intentioned New Years resolutions. And they were well intentioned, weren’t they? That’s because it’s so much easier to be optimistic when you’re looking at the new year through the rosy vapors of last night’s champagne. But then stark reality hits (along with a killer headache if you bought the kind of champagne where you get change back for a ten), and your ambitious plans start to crack and fall apart like a cheap facelift.

Why is this?

I think it’s because the whole concept of New Years resolutions is a flawed one.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for good intentions, and I’m all for setting goals. But once a year won’t do it. I mean, really, why do we pick just one day out of 365 (or, in 2012, 366) to set our personal and business benchmarks?

I much prefer the system that my friend, small business coach Mark LeBlanc, uses. He makes a point of looking at his business every thirty days, on the first of each month. (Actually, he looks at his financial numbers every day, but he looks at his benchmarks, which he defines as “a number that measures an activity or a result” every month.) So, in essence, he’s setting—and measuring—”New Years” resolutions twelve times a year, instead of just once. And, not coincidentally, his business is thriving.

Who would you rather get into an airplane with: a pilot who flies once a year or a pilot who flies every month? When you work on your skills—whether it’s flying an airplane or running business—just once a year, you get rusty. Not only that, you tend to bite off more than you can chew by setting unrealistic goals (“This year I’ll lose 300 pounds and become a millionaire!”). When you set monthly goals—and measure them with numbers—you tend to stay on track. You end up accomplishing more.

By setting monthly goals, you increase your chances of success simply because of the sheer immediacy of it. New Years resolutions are too easy to put off. “I’ll do it sometime this year.” Well, “sometime” becomes “sometime in February,” which then morphs into “sometime this summer,” which transitions to “sometime before the holidays,” before eventually rolling over into next years well intentioned resolution. When you say that you’ll accomplish something this month, though, it becomes much more concrete. It’s tougher to put it off. And, if you do, you’ll know about it as soon as you measure your monthly benchmarks.

My business advice for you? Stop thinking about New Years resolutions, and start thinking about New Months resolutions.

So—have you made your February 1st resolutions yet?


About the Author:

29-time Emmy Award winner and Hall of Fame keynote speaker Bill Stainton, CSP is an expert on Innovation, Creativity, and Breakthrough Thinking. He helps leaders and their teams come up with innovative solutions — on demand — to their most challenging problems.
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