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Why New Year’s Resolutions Are A Lost Cause (And What To Do Instead)

Why New Year’s Resolutions Are A Lost Cause (And What To Do Instead)

Have you ever set yourself a New Year’s resolution only to find that by the end of January you’ve let it slide, and by the end of February you can’t even remember what it was?

Every year people set resolutions to lose weight, get fit, get promoted or take up a new hobby, and every year most of those same people fail.

It’s so disheartening.

SMART goals

Many of us will even have used the proven SMART tool to make sure our goals are:





Timeframe (deadline).

But even this tactic can let us down when it comes to New Year’s resolutions.

Five reasons your resolutions fall short

There are five primary reasons why your resolutions fail. Which of these can you relate to?

1) You were specific about the goal but not the outcome

You set a goal to be promoted, but you weren’t specific about what you wanted that to look like. You might achieve the promotion, but if it was a mere title change with no bonus or salary increase, and with no greater influence in the workplace or additional authority was it fulfilling? 

Without an intentional and specific outcome, goals and resolutions are unfulfilling. For example, if you are looking for a stretch project at work make sure you are clear about the extra visibility that will give you, what additional expertise you will learn, and how you could use that opportunity as a stepping stone going forward. Be clear on your purpose or reason for doing it. 

2) Your goal is out of your control

Sometimes we set goals that we cannot achieve on our own. For example you can do everything within your power to be promoted. You can gain experience, you can attend training and deliver the required outcomes before your appraisal, but if the business you work for is not generating sufficient revenue, or there is no new role for you to step into, you may not be successful. 

When you set your goals, do everything within your remit and let go of the rest; there is plenty of merit in how much you will learn and grow along the way! Your commitment is to do all that you can from wherever you are now. Let go of the uncontrollables. 

3) You attached meaning to the timeframe but it’s not borne by true desire

If you set a resolution just because it was New Year, not because you had a burning desire to achieve a specific goal, you’ve set yourself up to fail! Unfortunately you attached the goal to the time of year rather than a burning desire to make a change. It’s inevitable that the New Year hype will pass and instead of having a stack of non-negotiables that you want to follow through on, your motivation will most likely dwindle. 

You need to be emotionally invested in your goal. Be clear on why you want it, the positive impact it will have on your life, and the negative consequences of not achieving it. We all need to be excited about our goals and intended outcomes, not just swept along by the popularity of New Year’s resolutions.

4) You weren’t realistic

Many of us get excited and caught up in the energy of the New Year so we create lists of resolutions. If the items we list are random, disconnected or contradict each other they become overwhelming and unmanageable. Asking for a new assignment whilst signing up for a 100 mile marathon might not be the best combination!

5) New habits take longer than you think

It’s hard to build new habits into your life. Recent research tells us it takes 66 days for a habit to become second nature; even if we were actively repeating our desired habit every day that would take us until March! If we expect to transform our lives overnight we’ll be sorely disappointed by our New Year’s resolution and nobody wants to start off the year feeling like they’ve failed!

How to set brilliant goals

If you’re committed to setting career goals that count in 2022, refine your use of the SMART tool.  

Specific: be clear on your intended outcome, and what that would mean to you.

Measurable: know if you want a £1k or a £15k pay rise (or state the new job title etc).

Achievable: make sure your goal is possible and remember you can’t dictate what others do.

Realistic: don’t overcommit. Ideally, you want your goal to stretch, not break you!

Time frame: be clear on the time frame and start with the end in mind so that you can reach and celebrate the necessary milestones along the way.

The power of goal setting

While I don’t advocate making a New Year’s resolution, I fully support setting achievable goals that matter to you. Your dedication to achieving an outcome will help you to make better quality decisions; you can check if that decision will take you closer to or further away from your goal.

When you’re motivated and driven by desire to do all that you can achieve: a promotion, a pay rise, or a sideways career move, you’ll create a better strategy and feel fulfilled when you get there. Nobody wants an empty goal!

If you’d love to set yourself up for a more fulfilling career that supports you to reach your full potential in 2022 get in touch with Elevate Talent

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