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Five Reasons to Cheer When You Fail to Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions

Five Reasons to Cheer When You Fail to Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions

You began the year with high hopes, but now your New Year’s resolutions are just memories. You set out to make lots of changes to your life, but you’ve already put some at least some of those resolutions aside. You’ve failed, or so it seems.

As you analyse your “failure”, consider the following before you criticise yourself too much—you might have more to congratulate yourself about than you think.

New Year's Resolution

    1.  It Was the Wrong Resolution

    At the end of last year, you were likely thinking about all sorts of things you wanted to do differently, but you made your list when you were on holiday, at a time when you were feeling relaxed. The resolutions you came up with seemed fine a couple of weeks ago, but now that you’re back into your normal routine, you’re not so sure.

    In fact, you can’t really remember why you thought that list was filled with good resolutions in the first place. At least some of them don’t fit in with what you’re doing either at work or in your life outside work. Some of them are definitely the wrong resolutions. Now that you look closely at them, you can see that you’re right to put some of them to one side and think again.

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    2.  It Was Somebody Else’s New Year’s Resolution

    It’s something that you do at the end of the year: you get together with friends and you all commit to reform some of your bad habits. You discuss what you are going to differently, what you intend to stop doing and which activities you’re going to start doing, or commit to do better.  Perhaps on New Year’s Eve you nodded as someone in the group said:

    “Let’s all agree to ……”

    That’s where your problems started—you agreed to something that wasn’t necessarily on your personal list of priorities. Maybe it was something you hadn’t even considered focusing on this year, but it didn’t seem like a bad idea at the time, and you don’t like to dampen other people’s enthusiasm. However, when you come to think about it, this isn’t a New Year’s resolution you want to work on, so you’ve abandoned it.

    3.  You Felt Obligated to Make It

    When you think about this particular resolution, you say things like:

    “I ought to work on ….”

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    “I really should make a commitment to …”

    Words like “ought” and “should” reveal a lot about you. You know it’s a good idea to take off those extra pounds you put on last year; you know that adopting a more frugal lifestyle would be good for the planet and good for your bank balance, but somehow you know you’re not going to take action.

    Making a New Year’s resolution to force yourself to do something that you’re not ready to do doesn’t work, because you’re not committed to take action.  You don’t actually want to make the changes that fulfilling your resolution would demand of you.

    You can try to goad yourself into making those changes, but it tends not to work. After a while, you stop prodding yourself, or you get fed up with feeling guilty all the time, and you give up on the project.

    Making a New Year’s resolution to do something you really don’t want to do is a bad idea, so It’s not surprising that you’ve abandoned this one.

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    4. You Made Too Many Resolutions

    Quite a few people make long lists of New Year’s resolutions, and the same resolutions tend to crop up every year. You’re going to learn to touch-type;  you’re going to learn to ride a bike; you’re going to exercise twice a week. You end up with so many resolutions, and you would need to make so many changes to your life in order to achieve them, that you really can’t cope with everything on your list.

    When you make New Year’s resolutions remember the SMART formula in full: most people are good at making specific, measurable and time-bound commitments and thus addressing part of the formula. Some even ask if a task can be done, and if the task achievable. It’s the realistic element that so often gets overlooked.

    If you have too much to do, if you have reached the limits of what you can cope with, don’t add anything else to your list of tasks to work on.  It’s not realistic to take on something else.  You just can’t do any more, even if you would like to.

    Taking another look at your New Year’s resolutions and working on the ones you have the personal capacity to fulfill makes a lot of sense—if some of your resolutions have to be put to one side, it’s not a disaster.  It’s good planning.

    5. It’s the Wrong Time to Work on This One

    You have a whole year to work on your New Year’s resolutions and it’s important to remember that some tasks are easier to complete at particular times of the year—there’s no reason to assume that you should start work on all your New Year’s resolutions in January.

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    If you’re very busy at work in the first quarter of the year, it might make sense to work on revising your approach to how you manage your schedule in the second quarter. If you’re determined to become fitter, then the time of year when the weather is at its best is the time when you’ll find it easier to spend more time outdoors taking more exercise.

    When you make New Year’s resolutions, be prepared to pace yourself through the year as you work to complete them.

    Don’t assume you’ve failed to fulfill your resolutions just because you’re not working on them in January.

    Planning For the Future

    Resolutions are great because they bring focus to what you do, and they help you to motivate yourself to succeed at what’s important to you, but your grit and determination to achieve deserve to be focused on the right things. This means you need to be very careful about the resolutions you make when each new year comes.

    Maybe now is the time to cheer that you haven’t keep some of your current New Year’s resolutions. Next year learn from this year’s “failures” and make sure your future resolutions are the right ones.

    Choosing the right battles to fight is always the best way of increasing your chances of victory. Good Luck with 2014, when it arrives.

    Featured photo credit:  Sky train in Bangkok via Shutterstock

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    The Gentle Art of Saying No

    The Gentle Art of Saying No

    No!

    It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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    But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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    What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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    But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

    1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
    2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
    3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
    4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
    5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
    6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
    7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
    8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
    9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
    10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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