Why Does New Year Optimism Always Fade?

"The Great Gordino" "goal achievement"As sure as night follows day, New Year surely follows Christmas – full of optimism and hope. Just as surely though, that optimism only lasts, ooh, a week or so before everything settles back to ‘normal‘ as ‘reality‘ kicks in. Ever wonder why? Here’s my take, and how you can keep that optimism going…


I think we can trace the source of the problem back to September. That may sound odd, but it’s in September that the Christmas cards and chocolates start to appear in the shops. From then on it’s an inevitable increase in build up to the holiday, as celebration and good will is commercially thrown at us.


We invest a lot of money, time and effort into the holidays, so much so that as soon as Christmas Day is over, there’s a huge sense of relief and come down. That feeling is lifted up again for the New Year celebrations, where the feeling of goodwill to others and a fresh start is as high as ever.


Sounds good, all that optimism, right? So why does it never seem to last..?


Well, after New Year’s Day it’s back to work for the majority of people. Many have been off since before Christmas, and the almost surreal feel of that break is replaced by a ’back to normal’ atmosphere.


The bills of Christmas seem to loom larger, and the winter weather seems bleaker. The song tells of the 12 days of Christmas, lasting until 5th January, but for those back to work it is already pushed to the back of the mind, and that’s part of the problem.


The optimism of New Year is mentally boxed up as part of the holiday package – once the holiday is over, so is the optimism, and this is backed up by the failure of New Year resolutions being treated as just a joke.


It doesn’t have to be like this though…


If you decide to treat New Year resolutions seriously, not as a joke, then things can change dramatically. If you sit down and look at goal achievement theory properly, and then set goals properly with belief and a plan, things can change dramatically.


If you follow that up with actual action to bring the thoughts into the real world, you are on the road to that change, and if you keep going, new momentum and new habit will kick in, and guess what that leads to…dramatic change!


Of course, you may not want dramatic change, you may only want small changes, but by backing up a plan with action, your visible progress will keep the optimism going, and your expectation of change will stay with you well past the end of the holiday period.


So, if you’ve found yourself with a major post New Year come down, then make the decision that things do not have to stay the same for you, the year ahead does not inevitably have to be the same as the year just gone, and you can enjoy that New Year optimism for the whole year – how good would that be!


Ok, that’s it for now – do let me know what you think!
‘Tile next time,
Health & Happiness,

P.S. If you do think it’s time to do it properly this year, why not take a look at my Transform Your Life Now! coaching. It will change the way you look at things, and the way you act. While you’re on the page, you can also grab my free 8 step goal achievement formula as an instant download!

Do leave a comment!

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  • Hello Gordon, I agree with you in what one must do in order to keep the optimism going but I would like to add that the motivation behind it is not coming from within but rather from the social pressure that comes with the holidays.

    One needs to make up his/her mind to set goals and in this case the calendar does it for them. I would guess that many can’t wait until the season is over so they can drop the resolution talk because it wasn’t their idea to begin with.

    In short it is the improper mind set coupled with the lack of knowledge of ‘how to’ as you outlined above that makes a recipe for failure.

    Ruben A Beltran

    • Hi Ruben,
      I like your point about the motivatiooin to set goals coming from outside, leading to them never really being believed – hence their failure.

  • January is always a hard month. Cold. And yes, hoopla is over and those visa bills come in on toys from Santa that already are forgotten about. You think you’ll do things differently the next year, but you never do. Because that anticipation still is always so full of hope.

    • This is why I’m a fan of setting resolutions at any other time than New Year! That cold weather and looming of bills never help!

  • Gordon,
    It must be the mindset and the “good cheers” of starting on a new slate at the start of the year that powers us up to make resolutions – lots of them – only to forget and abandon them when the going gets rough later.

    A cure? For me: a healthy mindset to always treat each day as “the first day to the rest of my life,” set an overall goal for the year and smaller objectives to achieve each day, be steadfast and keep moving on like the tortoise. Well, easier said then done, eh? BUT better than nothing at all… Great post, Gordon!

    • you are so right Maria, that the steadfast route like the tortoise is a good way to go – not only is it SO much better than nothing it’s a viable model for any time of year!

  • Great post Gordon – for the first time this year I have done a written and detailed Marketing Plan for my business and it is proving to be so helpful already.
    I did this partly because of my feelings last January when I was on the verge of giving up this online marketing, but now with a clear written plan, I feel much better about the year ahead.

    Best wishes

    • Thanks Sue,
      I like your post where you talk about the ‘why’ in a business plan. It’s a key element, but something missed out by so many, even those who think that ‘to make money’ is the reason (it’s not really!)

  • I have a fairly simple one page yearly business plan which I write down. I find the act of doing this and sharing with my wife (who corrects it) pretty much guarantees action.

    It has been responsible for getting my work onto BBC TV / Radio and getting book endorsements from Tom Peters and Harvey Goldsmith without an agent or all the usual trappings of PR etc.

    Simple things work for me a lot of the time, and yes, I get knocked down, but I get up again (mostly).


    • Ha! I love the image of your wife correcting…
      I do like the technique of a yearly action plan though, as it means it can be broken down into steps rather than the vague hopes which normally fade due to lack of focus and action.

  • There are three sources that have been very helpful to me in habit training. 1) The Power of Habit, a book that explains how habits work. 2) The Four Hour Chef – a brand new book out by Timothy Ferriss (excellent study on human behavior) and 3) Getting Things Done. If you want to kick some booty in the “getting things done” department, read the last one.

    A unique approach to looking at resolutions. I totally agree.

    • Thanks Amy,
      It’s a great idea to read books which inspire action, they tend to promote proper goal setting which can lead to *actual* changes rather than the wish washy resolutions which inevitably fade as they were never really believed in the first place.
      Ideas like this really can keep that optimism going all year!