Do You Even Bother Creating New Year’s Resolutions?

new years resolutions

Do you and your friends bother creating New Year’s resolutions anymore? If you do, how long do you follow through on them before you say forget it?

As you know, creating New Year’s resolutions for yourself is the same as setting goals for yourself. Many of us make the same resolutions every New Year’s but rarely keep them. Could it be because we’re setting impractical goals for ourselves that we can’t possibly achieve?

When we create bad goals for ourselves through our New Year’s resolutions we are only setting ourselves up for failure.

I’m sure you have read this a million times before but there actually is a way to set and achieve realistic goals. It is known as the S.M.A.R.T. system, as shown here:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Realistic
  • Timely

How To Turn a Bad New Year’s Resolution Into a Good One

Bad Resolution:

I will quit smoking on January 1st.

The average smoker tries to quit at least 7 times before he actually kicks the habit.

Why? Because it’s easy to get frustrated when you try one method and it doesn’t work right away. You need to have several back-up plans because one product or method doesn’t work for everyone.

Understand that making a significant change to your life such as quitting smoking will most likely not happen in an instant.

Good Resolution:

Set reasonable goals such as, “By ___ (date) I will only smoke ____ cigarettes a day.” Slowly become less dependent on them until you reach your goal.

Bad Resolution:

I will lose weight.

One of the most popular New Year’s resolutions is “I will lose weight this year”.

When it comes to losing weight many of us procrastinate. We tell ourselves things like “I will start again after Thanksgiving”, or we say “with Christmas coming I am surrounded by cookies and Eggnog so I may as well just wait until after the holidays are over”.

Then come January 2nd (because we are still celebrating on January 1st) we clean out our fridge of any and all sweets and we go online to see if our local gym is offering any new membership discounts.

How many of us make the resolution to “get in shape” or to simply “lose weight"? This isn’t a specific goal, nor does it contain any sort of measurable timeline in which to perform the task.

Good Resolution:

A better way to do this would be to say, “I want to lose _____ pounds by _____ (date). I will do this by following this specific diet plan and exercising at the gym 3 times a week for 60 minutes at a time.”

By being more specific you now have a solid strategy that you can follow to achieve your goal of losing weight and getting into shape.

Bad Resolution:

I will spend more time with my family.

How often have you said “this year I will spend more time visiting my family”?

Again, you need to have a plan to do this. Simply stating that you will spend more time with your family won’t make it happen. This may not even be a very attainable goal if you live far away from your family or can’t give up time at the office.

Good Resolution:

I will invite my parents over for dinner one Sunday a month.

Look at your schedule, evaluate your priorities, and make the necessary changes to free up the time you’ll need to spend the extra hours with your family.

Determine exactly how many extra hours you need to make this happen. What will have to be rearranged? You will need to make these decisions if you really want to accomplish this goal.

Bad Resolution:

This year I will get out of debt!

This is a resolution that requires a lot of planning and specific changes to the way you do things. If you’re living in a cycle of debt, you need to plan a strategy to reduce your spending significantly, as well as pay off the debt you already have.

Good Resolution:

Set specific goals such as “I will have ____ (amount) paid off by _____ (date). I will do this by cutting ____ (amount) from my spending each week.”

Without a realistic timeline in place, you just know that you will quickly return to your old habits.

If the amount that you currently owe is quite large I’m sure it can feel quite overwhelming, almost to the point of thinking “why should I even bother?”. Believe me, when I say I understand that feeling.

But you can pay off your debt by breaking the debt down into smaller, more realistic goals that will be easier for you to achieve.

Begin by paying off one credit card or other outstanding debt at a time and take pride when you get that final statement with a zero balance. Stick it on the fridge as a reminder that you can do it.

As well, one of the things that you will find extremely helpful is to talk to a financial advisor who can help you setup a reasonable plan for you to follow as you work towards getting out of debt this year.

I waited a very long time to speak to several financial professionals about my debt issue and during that time of putting it off I became so depressed and stressed out. I will share with you that literally every night I would sit on the sofa after dinner and worry myself to tears about what how we (my husband and I) were going to pay off all of this crappy debt. Once I met with them and we discussed things on a practical level instead of an emotional level, I left their offices feeling so much better about my future finances.

We all understand that if we really want to commit to achieving our New Year’s resolutions then we need to take the necessary steps and do the required work. Otherwise why even bother talking about them in the first place?



    • Lina

      Lina 11/19/2012 5:11 a.m. #

      Nice goal tips. I really like your resolution tips for debt payback.. I too found myself many a times worried to tears. Debt can be so overwhelming.

    • John S @ Frugal Rules

      John S @ Frugal Rules 11/19/2012 6:07 a.m. #

      Good post! I've given up on resolutions years ago. I think it creates too much of a quitting, or whatever the changed is, cold turkey. That often can set you up for failure and end up not accomplishing it. I'd much rather have a goal to shoot for with an end date as it will make me more inclined to do what I can to reach that goal.

    • Pauline

      Pauline 11/19/2012 6:08 a.m. #

      No resolutions this year, I prefer my small monthly goals. You are right that being vague will never take you anywhere. Having no true motivation either. You can claim you want to lose weight, or pay your debt, but if you aren't 100% committed to your goal, things will stay the same.

    • Mandy @MoneyMasterMom

      Mandy @MoneyMasterMom 11/19/2012 8:52 a.m. #

      Great post, and timely as resolution season is approaching. I love setting goals for myself, but really dislike doing it on January 1. January and February are pretty cold and harsh in the great white North. It's an easy time to feel sorry for yourself and let the goals slide. I like setting goals on July 1 (the start of summer holidays) or September 1 (with the start of school, feels like a new start just like New Years)

    • femmefrugality

      femmefrugality 11/19/2012 10:07 a.m. #

      I'm a firm believer that if you want to change something in your life, you need to start today. Not put it off till some arbitrary calendar date. I agree with the SMART system, though. 100%. I just think it's best to start right now, when your motivation is high and before Jan 1 becomes a day you've trained yourself to dread.

    • Holly@ClubThrifty

      Holly@ClubThrifty 11/19/2012 10:36 a.m. #

      Great post! I usually don't make any resolutions...but I have small goals throughout the year that I try to stick to. I don't see what is so special about waiting until Jan. 1st to make a positive change. Why wait?

    • Money Beagle

      Money Beagle 11/19/2012 11:43 a.m. #

      I typically don't set goals for the exact reasons that you mentioned. But throughout the year as something comes up I will set a goal, so I think targeted approaches are more likely to succeed.

    • Cat

      Cat 11/19/2012 12:34 p.m. #

      I've only ever kept one - to quit smoking. Since I've never smoked that was pretty easy.:)

    • canadianbudgetbinder

      canadianbudgetbinder 11/19/2012 12:42 p.m. #

      We did this year and it was to quit smoking but like you point out a life change doesn't happen over night. Infact we didn't actually quit until the end of January with all the back and forth but we did it. Proud to say we are still smoke free today Nov 19.. here we come 1 year! Great post Sicorra! Mr.CBB

    • Tackling Our Debt

      Tackling Our Debt 11/19/2012 1:28 p.m. #

      @Glen - Interesting to hear about the traffic you received from the SMART acronym. I think the gyms seriously look forward to January as most people probably take out a year long membership and never go back.

      @Lina - Sounds like you and I can really relate on the debt issue.

      @John - That is where the SMART concept comes in. Setting specific goals with specific deadlines, or an end date, as you referred to it.

    • Tackling Our Debt

      Tackling Our Debt 11/19/2012 1:28 p.m. #

      @Pauline - You are right, vague doesn't help. Losing weight or paying off debt takes hard work, little by little.

      @Mandy - I often wonder if more people set new goals on September 1st rather than January 1st as September often does feel like a new beginning.

    • Tackling Our Debt

      Tackling Our Debt 11/19/2012 1:29 p.m. #

      @femmefrugality - It is good to start right away. I think that people push things off until January because in the fall they are typically busy getting ready for the holidays and then int he case of weight loss and spending money, they are doing both right up until the end of December.

      @Holly - I think people wait because they see the new year as a new beginning. A time to start over, perhaps?

    • Tackling Our Debt

      Tackling Our Debt 11/19/2012 1:29 p.m. #

      @Money Beagle - Yes, you can't set goals on January 1st just for the sake of doing it. I agree that doing it anytime that you feel you are ready to tackle it is much better idea.

      @Cat - Too funny!! Love it!

      @CanadianBudgetBinder - Big Congrats to you! And see what you did is a good example of why people wait until January. If you had tried earlier, come the holidays you may have found it quite difficult to stop.

    • Catherine

      Catherine 11/19/2012 5:44 p.m. #

      I don't usually but I plan on starting this year, but similar to Pauline, try and break it down monthly or have quite specific goals in general.

    • CatAlford @BudgetBlonde

      CatAlford @BudgetBlonde 11/19/2012 6:11 p.m. #

      This is a great post. I am definitely guilty of making resolutions and then not keeping to them. I'd really love to get in better shape, mostly to encourage my hubs to take the time to exercise during his study schedule. Your post has definitely made me thoughtful about how to achieve it and the small steps I need to take to make it happen!

    • Kim@Eyesonthedollar

      Kim@Eyesonthedollar 11/19/2012 7:42 p.m. #

      I think you can have a resolution at any time you decide, so I don't do much just for New Year's. I do think you are more likely to reach your goal if you share it with others. I know I am anyway.

    • DC @ Young Adult Money

      DC @ Young Adult Money 11/20/2012 7:45 a.m. #

      Setting specific goals is so important! I am failing at my current New Year's Resolutions - to read the whole bible, to learn HTML and CSS, as well as a few others. I need to make mine even more specific! i.e. be 8% through the Bible by end of January, program one application in VBA by end of February, have a freelance website set up by April, and so on.

    • Gillian @ Money After Graduation

      Gillian @ Money After Graduation 11/20/2012 7:47 a.m. #

      I never make resolutions, because there is nothing that I want to work towards that I'm not already making goals for throughout the year. So true that so many resolutions are unrealistic!

    • KK @ Student Debt Survivor

      KK @ Student Debt Survivor 11/21/2012 7:42 p.m. #

      Like Gillian said above. I try to avoid resolutions and stick to goals. To keep myself accountable I usually write them down and tell as many people as possible. That accountability is actually part of the reason I started blogging. I like the challenge and the support.

    • Budget & the Beach

      Budget & the Beach 11/23/2012 9:20 a.m. #

      I don't do resolutions, but I do try to map out some goals for myself. I need to create a system though for checking in so I don't lose track or forget about them.

    • Joshua P

      Joshua P 11/26/2012 2:10 p.m. #

      This is a great post. This is what I try to push onto my friends and family members. I have always put together resolutions, sometimes, like this year I only have one. I definitely agree with the fact that setting a date and a specific goal instead of a broad one helps us stick to these goals. Also, I have read many times that after doing something for about 28-30 days it is recorded on your brain as a habit. This is why I stress to those who are trying to change something big in their life, give it another 28 days. Every time we give ourselves another month to survive through the hard work of reaching a resolution before we know it it's December again and you've gone 12 months following your resolution.

Comments are closed.