Why I Don’t Make New Year’s Resolutions

by Scott Sery on January 2, 2014

New Years ResolutionEditor’s Note:  Today is the first day of the ReadyForZero F³ Challenge where they are helping people make a change in three different parts of their life…food, fitness and finance. Make sure you join the challenge to help make yourself a better person in 2014.

As I was growing up I always found it exciting to make a New Year’s resolution.  They were always little things such as: play more baseball, build a go-kart, or study more.  Nothing very serious.  Yet every year I would consistently fail my goals, and I would be disheartened at the end of the year only to make the same resolution for the following year.  Finally, sometime in high school, I made my final resolution.  One that I have kept every year since: never again make a New Year’s resolution.  That was one that I knew I could keep.  Yet I propose there is a better way than simply not making resolutions.

The problem with making resolutions is that they come up just once per year.  Every December we think about all the things we did wrong (or poorly) in the past 12 months, and we resolve that in January we will start to do better.  Inevitably we make it almost all the way through the first month of the new year, sometimes into February if we’re lucky, and then we fail the resolution yet again.  What ends up happening is we will say, “Oh well, I will try again next year.”  Giving ourselves the perfect excuse to slip back into our old habits for 11 more months.  The reason is simple:  It is easier to perform at our lower expectations because that is what we know and we are used to.  But instead of making, and consistently breaking, your New Year’s resolutions, try this approach.

New Month Resolutions

As humans we need defined units of time.  That is precisely why we have hours, months, and years, etc.  Many of these units are rather arbitrary.  But they do serve the purpose of keeping everything on track.  And one of those things can be your resolutions.  As the first of each month approaches, start to analyze your resolutions.  Did you meet your goals?  Why or why not?  What must be changed to keep your resolution?  Do you need to adjust your goals so that you can achieve them?  At the start of each month, resolve to make those changes that you originally set out for.  This way you can get a fresh start every 30 days instead of waiting 12 months.  By the time the next year comes, you will have made huge strides on something that otherwise you would have made little progress on.

What Goals?

This method will work for any goal, no matter how big or small.  The key is to break it down into monthly increments.  Do you want to lose 50 pounds in 2014?  Great, in January your goal is to lose 4 of those pounds.  The mental barrier to lose 4 pounds is much smaller than the barrier to lose 50; it is an achievable goal.  Do you want to fully fund your Roth IRA?  Perfect, in January your goal is to deposit $420 into your account.  Do you want to start a side hustle and earn an extra $1,000 per month?  In January your goal is to determine your niche, and analyze the market need.  You get the idea.

Wrapping It Up

I don’t make New Year’s resolutions.  But I do make resolutions throughout the year; even down to the daily level (basically a to-do list is a resolution list).  Often my goals don’t get met by the end of the week.  If they are not met I have to figure out what to adjust to make sure they will get done next week.  Sometimes it is a matter of giving up an hour of television, other times it is a matter that I was simply trying to do too much.  The point is that every day is a new day to start re-evaluating your resolutions.  If you find yourself year after year failing your New Year’s resolutions, try making new month resolutions instead.  By setting smaller, more consistent goals, you will discover that at the end of the year, you are much further along than if you had just shot for a big lump-sum goal.

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Scott Sery

Scott Sery is a native to Billings, Montana. Within an hour in nearly any direction he can be found fishing, hunting, backpacking, caving, and rock or ice climbing. With an extensive knowledge of the finance and insurance world, Scott loves to write personal finance articles. When not talking money, he enjoys passing on his knowledge of the back country, or how to live sustainably. You can learn more about Scott on his website Sery Content Development
  • This year I decided to make resolutions that would tie to monthly goals. So yesterday I wrote down my 2014 goals followed immediately by my January goals. I chose an actionable next step for each of my annual goals and built it into my first months goals.

  • I do make yearly resolutions in January, but I also follow them up with quarterly check-ins. I evaluate how I’m doing, discard goals that aren’t working or seem less important to me now than they did when I made them, and set new goals that I didn’t think of at the start of the year.

    • It’s great that you check in on things during the year. A lot of people will set their resolutions and then forget about them. Once they’re broken they move on with their year. You’re trying to keep yourself accountable.

  • Joe@IGotOuttaDebt.com

    Great points.. Why put of to tomorrow (Or Next Year) what you can do today? I think we started our Get Outta Debt Journey in June.. why wait? $68k paid off in a little over 3 years.. How much more would we have had in interest if we waited?

    Nah.. If you identify the problem, fix it NOW! I do love the idea of the monthly checkups. Especially financially related, since it ties to monthly budgets. We tend to be a bit more anal about it and check out budgets each week. We use a credit card and reconcile what we spent each week, then cut the check. No finance charges in over 2 years 🙂 It may be a little crazy, but it works

  • Brick By Brick Investing

    I very rarely make new years resolutions, I think if you’re going to do something you will start it on your time and not the calendar.

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