New Year Resolutions From A Different Angle!

"New Year Resolutions"I’ve written for many years about my ambivalence towards New Year Resolutions. This year I’ve decided to approach the subject from a different angle, well it’s different for me certainly…


I’ve long held the belief that New Year resolutions are, at best a waste of time, and at worst, really damaging for your future. I even wrote a chapter in my motivation book about the subject. In fact if you type ‘New Year’s Resolutions’ into the search box top right of any page, you’ll see lots of my articles about it.

It’s all to do with the jokey way that people approach them, the joke being that people set them knowing full well they won’t be kept. Sure enough, they then aren’t kept – all well and good you might think, a bit of harmless fun.

It’s not all well and good though, because by taking this approach you are training your brain to believe that the whole idea of goal achievement is a joke, that it’s always doomed to fail. That in turn stops us ever taking the idea seriously, and robs us of some wonderful life opportunities simply because we joked about New Year.

That, in a couple of paragraphs, pretty much sums up my view, but something occurred to me only this week, and it’s why I’ve decided on a different angle this year…

Yes, ok, I still believe that many many people damage their potential by doing what I wrote about, but there are also many people that do set their goals at New Year fully intending to stick to them, and then set about putting in the effort required, and I realised that although I write about goal achievement all the time, I have missed out these people by my dismissal of the New Year Resolution!

So, this year let’s assume you *are* setting a goal at New Year, and I’m going to as well. Here’s what needs to happen for the goal to become a reality –

– Take responsibility. Responsibility for your current circumstance, responsibility to make the changes yourself, to take control of your own future.

– Define the goal, as tightly as possible. If it’s not defined, it makes it almost impossible to achieve.

– Work out what you need to do to get there, the steps you will need to take.

– Take the first step. No goal will happen without action, and no-one can take the action for you. It’s up to you.

– Keep going, and be prepared to work hard. You can choose to give up, or when you hit a setback, you can choose to come again, it’s your choice.

That briefly covers the main steps. People have said to me in the past that I can make it look much easier than it actually is, that I’m too simplistic. Well, obviously there is more to it, but since the individual goal will bring its’ own complications, and life in general can undoubtedly add more complications still, I prefer to not overcomplicate the theory if I can help it. Action is the key to goal achievement. Theory behind the action, yes, but it’s action that will make the difference.

I’ve got some goals sorted out myself for the year ahead. Defined goals, with steps laid out to get there, and I’m ready to put in some work. You can get in touch with me if you want to find out what they are, and while you’re at it, let me know what your goals are for the year ahead. Can I help?

You can set goals at any time of the year, and as I’ve said I still have doubts about the way New Year can make a joke of the whole concept. If you’re going to stop joking about it though, if you’re ready to make some changes this year, then make the decision, take responsibility, take some help that’s available (from me), and let’s see where it can take you!

‘Til Next Time,
Health & Happiness,
P.S. Don’t forget to grab my free video series – 8 Step Goal Achievement Formula!

Do leave a comment!

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  • Yep – setting and getting your goals is step by step and it’s not about immediate perfection. It’s about learning something new, confronting a challenge and moving towards their goal.
    Great article – thank you 🙂 Donna

    • Thanks Donna,
      Yes indeed, one step at a time will keep anyone moving forward, including any setbacks along the way!

  • Hi Gordon,

    I agree with you on this post. No New Years resolutions are good unless you take action. Writing out a plan, taking action, and being consistent is what makes New Years Resolutions work. Great post my friend and Happy New Year!

    • Thanks Nate,
      You’ve hit the nail on the head with why NY resolutions fail – people expect some sort of magic to happen just by setting a goal, it’s all about the action!
      Cheers, and a Happy New Year to you too!

  • I’d like to add that, if you choose to make NYRs, make sure you don’t tie your happiness to whether or not you accomplish what you think you’d like to do. That goes for any goal, for that matter. I ran across a blog (no affiliation to me, whatsoever, just found it in my FB feed via a friend) that you might find interesting. I like it. Just as you, I’ve not set or believed NYRs were good for much of anything for YEARS. I tend to set and re-evaluate goals through the year… I like the idea of systems, though! I use systems for many things and activities, so it just makes sense to me.

    I totally agree with you, for sure!

    • Good point Tori!
      As someone with a love of the entertainment world, one reason you get so many sad people who are rich and famous is that they expected the fame and fortune to bring them happiness, a classic case of tying happiness to a goal. If the process itself doesn’t bring happiness, it’s probably the wrong goal, and it’s a point well worth considering when setting the goals.
      P.S. That article you mention is interesting. I’d agree about committing to a process, and a process that makes you happy, but in order to commit to the process, you still need the goal in the first place, IMHO…

  • hi gordon,
    aptly said and nicely written. still working on my goals. next year is a big challenge for me as i am going back to college for career improvement.
    wish you a happy new year

    • Wow, going to college to improve career is excellent! A challenge, maybe, but and adventure for sure! Goood luck with it!
      Cheers, and a Happy New Year to you too!

  • I use a one page format for my yearly personal and business goals and it seems to work pretty well. The act of committing time to forward planning is more important than the plan for me.

    • I like a one page format – no need to overdo things. That’s a good way to get ideas into a tangible form rather than the often mixed messages in the brain!

  • I don’t make traditional resolutions at new year but I do set intentions about what I would like to leave behind and what I would like to expand the next year. Firm goals, with the kind of process you explain here, work better for me at the times during the year when they become appropriate. One thing I wanted to say – I think it is good that you make it look simple and easy. We would never try something challenging (say learning a sport or a foreign language) if everyone emphasised how difficult and complicated it was. We watch the top sportsmen, or listen to a native speaker, and think ‘I want to do that.’ This is what inspires us, rather than someone struggling to do the sport or speak the language. And no-one will try anything if they are not first inspired to do it. So, keep on as you are Gordon, you are inspiring people to achieve! And a happy new year to you x

    • Thanks for your kind words Harriet!
      Sometimes we overcomplicate things because we are scared, and overcomplicating can create a reason for us not to try something. I like your point about not wanting to watch people struggle, and I also like the idea of choosing things to leave behind – that one’s a cracker!
      Happy New Year to you too!
      Cheers, Gordon

  • I don’t set New Year resolutions – but I do set myself targets. Last year, I set myself the target of self-publishing a book of short stories (not via the big A) and it will be reality by the end of January.

    What I find harder to set is the timing relating to the actual writing of the stories – especially when editing and re-editing. Timings tend to become pretty elastic then, which isn’t really helpful in setting deadlines!

    • End of January is not bad compared to your target! Deadlines can always be hard with something liek creative writing, because often it’s an open ended venture, you sometimes have to go where it takes you. Imagine where you’d be *without* the target though, and it’s probably a lot less further down the road, so well done you, and it’s an exciting thing to look forward to in the New Year!