New Years Resolutions are Counter Productive for Achieving Goals

For most people, New Years Resolutions are exercises in futility.Goal setting


Studies indicate that  each year, up to between 78% and  88% of people  forget or abandon them. (Source Wikipedia)

If this is a futile exercise, why is there so much attention in the media about them? Why do so many people feel or think they should make them?

The answer to both questions is in the FEEL and THINK part.

When we FEEL or THINK we should do something,it is generally as a result of some outside pressure:

We got caught up in the end-of-year-media-hype.

  • “Every one” else is doing them.
  • “They” say we should.
  • Mr X & Mrs./Miss Y Recommend it and “everyone” knows how successful they are.

Feeling and thinking can both be strongly motivating emotions, but when it comes to New Year Resolutions, they are just not strong enough.

Feeling, thinking, like wishing, wanting and hoping, do not have the traction to get 100% commitment.

To accomplish big goals, we need 100% commitment, the only way to build it is with a burning, compelling, overwhelming desire to achieve that goal.

A wishy-washy statement that “I will lose 20 lbs” or “I will get a better job” at a family Christmas dinner or New Years Eve party is definitely
not going to work.

The very term “New Years Resolution” is hard to take seriously, it’s a favourite of comedians and cartoonists and it is often treated
frivolously in the media.

If we really want to change our lives, we need to have a vision and we need to set goals. There are many goal setting systems and ideas.
The system that works for me is yearly, 90 day, weekly and daily goals. Yearly and 90 day are split into 4 areas:

  • Wealth – Business and finance
  • Health – Exercise, and diet
  • Personal – Relaxation and travel. Reading, self Improvement.
  • Social – Family and friends.

Weekly and daily goals are really action steps that will move me closer to my goals.

Before starting my goal setting exercise for the new year,I spend time in December “Archiving” the year about to end. It does not matter how bad the year
has been, there will always be many highlights, successes, accomplishments and happy events to record.

I go through my diary, gratitude and daily success journal and write down all the significant successes in one list and the disappointments in another
This is a wonderfully motivating exercise. The list of good stuff far exceeds the few not so good. I find myself smiling at memories of good things and successes
from months before. It reminds me that I actually got a lot done during the year.

Then I think carefully about the year and honestly write out the answers to 3 questions:

1) How did I limit myself and how can I overcome that limitation in ….(the new year).

2) What have I learned from this exercise.

3) How will I improve in ….(Following year)

When I have finished, I put the document in a file marked “Archives” and the year it refers to, then put it away in my filing cabinet and forget about the disappointments,
they have been handled, dealt with, put to rest. I create a picture in my mind of the file buried in the vast depths of some huge archives with millions of files, perhaps buried in an underground bunker, guarded by armed sentries and time locks. It works for me, I can build on the successes and leave the rest behind.

Then I am in the right frame of mind to work on my 12 month and 90 day goals.

It’s not the system we use, or the way we write our goals that make a difference,they are just tools to help us focus and keep on track.
What makes the difference is our commitment – our why.

Peter Wright - Goals

End in sight Comrades 1988

One of my biggest ever goals, completing an 85 km (50 mile) ultra marathon was achieved without being written down in an elaborate goal setting system. The action steps – my training programme – were planned, recorded and asessed very scientifically. The goal itself was so important to me that I did not have to see it written out before me every day.

It consumed me for 2 years, it got me up at 4 am on freezing mornings to get out and run, sometimes 20 km, before work and even after late nights, wine and rich food at business dinners. For months, I spent Saturday mornings running between 30 and 50 km instead of going to the beach or just relaxing like normal people. I have to confess that I let my sons down by not attending all their school sports events.

I was totally, 100% committed, that is why I achieved the goal. In April and May did a series of posts on why physical goals are easier to achieve than business or spiritual goals starting  here:  Marathon Goals easier….

If you are putting off setting goals this can help Goals on Track

As always remember that if you order anything from links or advertisements on this site, I may receive a commission.

The Movember movement is gaining ground, moustaches are sprouting all over, some are well established, some just visible, have you joined the movement and made a donation for prostate cancer research. Find out the facts about this disease and how it kills 4100 men in Canada each year, by visiting my Movember website – please make a donation while you are there, you never know, it might help save your life or that of someone you know.

This is one link that I do not receive a commission from, I promote it and support it because it is the right thing to do.


Wishing you success and successful goal setting.


Peter Wright




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  1 comment for “New Years Resolutions are Counter Productive for Achieving Goals

  1. Mck0009
    November 15, 2011 at 9:40 am

    Each year at New Years I print out a form for us (kids, husband and me) to fill out. It has stuff like what you want to be when you grow up, favourite colour, favourite toy, favourite game, something good you remember from the year, something bad. I think now that my kids are older teenagers I need to rework this and do something like you are talking about above. They have moved away from games and toys and now are focusing on higher schooling and careers. I think this is a brilliant exercise to support that.

    Thank you for the inspiration!

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