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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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    Last Updated on January 24, 2021

    How to Say No When You Know You Say Yes Too Often

    How to Say No When You Know You Say Yes Too Often

    Do you say yes so often that you no longer feel that your own needs are being met? Are you wondering how to say no to people?

    For years, I was a serial people pleaser[1]. Known as someone who would step up, I would gladly make time, especially when it came to volunteering for certain causes. I proudly carried this role all through grade school, college, even through law school. For years, I thought saying “no” meant I would disappoint a good friend or someone I respected.

    But somewhere along the way, I noticed I wasn’t quite living my life. Instead, I seem to have created a schedule that was a strange combination of meeting the expectations of others, what I thought I should be doing, and some of what I actually wanted to do. The result? I had a packed schedule that left me overwhelmed and unfulfilled.

    It took a long while, but I learned the art of saying no. Saying no meant I no longer catered fully to everyone else’s needs and could make more room for what I really wanted to do. Instead of cramming too much in, I chose to pursue what really mattered. When that happened, I became a lot happier.

    And guess what? I hardly disappointed anyone.

    The Importance of Saying No

    When you learn the art of saying no, you begin to look at the world differently. Rather than seeing all of the things you could or should be doing (and aren’t doing), you start to look at how to say yes to what’s important.

    In other words, you aren’t just reacting to what life throws at you. You seek the opportunities that move you to where you want to be.

    Successful people aren’t afraid to say no. Oprah Winfrey, considered one of the most successful women in the world, confessed that it was much later in life when she learned how to say no. Even after she had become internationally famous, she felt she had to say yes to virtually everything.

    Being able to say no also helps you manage your time better.

    Warren Buffett views “no” as essential to his success. He said:

    “The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.”

    When I made “no” a part of my toolbox, I drove more of my own success, focusing on fewer things and doing them well.

    How We Are Pressured to Say Yes

    It’s no wonder a lot of us find it hard to say no.

    From an early age, we are conditioned to say yes. We said yes probably hundreds of times in order to graduate from high school and then get into college. We said yes to find work, to get a promotion, to find love and then yes again to stay in a relationship. We said yes to find and keep friends.

    We say yes because we feel good when we help someone, because it can seem like the right thing to do, because we think that is key to success, and because the request might come from someone who is hard to resist.

    And that’s not all. The pressure to say yes doesn’t just come from others. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves.

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    At work, we say yes because we compare ourselves to others who seem to be doing more than we are. Outside of work, we say yes because we are feeling bad that we aren’t doing enough to spend time with family or friends.

    The message, no matter where we turn, is nearly always, “You really could be doing more.” The result? When people ask us for our time, we are heavily conditioned to say yes.

    How Do You Say No Without Feeling Guilty?

    Deciding to add the word “no” to your toolbox is no small thing. Perhaps you already say no, but not as much as you would like. Maybe you have an instinct that if you were to learn the art of no that you could finally create more time for things you care about.

    But let’s be honest, using the word “no” doesn’t come easily for many people.

    3 Rules of Thumbs for Saying No

    1. You Need to Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

    Let’s face it. It is hard to say no. Setting boundaries around your time, especially you haven’t done it much in the past, will feel awkward. Your comfort zone is “yes,” so it’s time to challenge that and step outside that.

    If you need help getting out of your comfort zone, check out this article.

    2. You Are the Air Traffic Controller of Your Time

    When you want to learn how to say no, remember that you are the only one who understands the demands for your time. Think about it: who else knows about all of the demands in your life? No one.

    Only you are at the center of all of these requests. You are the only one that understands what time you really have.

    3. Saying No Means Saying Yes to Something That Matters

    When we decide not to do something, it means we can say yes to something else that we may care more about. You have a unique opportunity to decide how you spend your precious time.

    6 Ways to Start Saying No

    Incorporating that little word “no” into your life can be transformational. Turning some things down will mean you can open doors to what really matters. Here are some essential tips to learn the art of no:

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    1. Check in With Your Obligation Meter

    One of the biggest challenges to saying no is a feeling of obligation. Do you feel you have a responsibility to say yes and worry that saying no will reflect poorly on you?

    Ask yourself whether you truly have the duty to say yes. Check your assumptions or beliefs about whether you carry the responsibility to say yes. Turn it around and instead ask what duty you owe to yourself.

    2. Resist the Fear of Missing out (FOMO)

    Do you have a fear of missing out (FOMO)? FOMO can follow us around in so many ways. At work, we volunteer our time because we fear we won’t move ahead. In our personal lives, we agree to join the crowd because of FOMO, even while we ourselves aren’t enjoying the fun.

    Check in with yourself. Are you saying yes because of FOMO or because you really want to say yes? More often than not, running after fear doesn’t make us feel better[2].

    3. Check Your Assumptions About What It Means to Say No

    Do you dread the reaction you will get if you say no? Often, we say yes because we worry about how others will respond or because of the consequences. We may be afraid to disappoint others or think we will lose their respect. We often forget how much we are disappointing ourselves along the way.

    Keep in mind that saying no can be exactly what is needed to send the right message that you have limited time. In the tips below, you will see how to communicate your no in a gentle and loving way.

    You might disappoint someone initially, but drawing a boundary can bring you the freedom you need so that you can give freely of yourself when you truly want to. And it will often help others have more respect for you and your boundaries, not less.

    4. When the Request Comes in, Sit on It

    Sometimes, when we are in the moment, we instinctively agree. The request might make sense at first. Or we typically have said yes to this request in the past.

    Give yourself a little time to reflect on whether you really have the time or can do the task properly. You may decide the best option is to say no. There is no harm in giving yourself the time to decide.

    5. Communicate Your “No” with Transparency and Kindness

    When you are ready to tell someone no, communicate your decision clearly. The message can be open and honest[3] to ensure the recipient that your reasons have to do with your limited time.

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    How do you say no? 9 Healthy Ways to Say “No”

      Resist the temptation not to respond or communicate all. But do not feel obligated to provide a lengthy account about why you are saying no.

      Clear communication with a short explanation is all that is needed. I have found it useful to tell people that I have many demands and need to be careful with how I allocate my time. I will sometimes say I really appreciate that they came to me and for them to check in again if the opportunity arises another time.

      6. Consider How to Use a Modified No

      If you are under pressure to say yes but want to say no, you may want to consider downgrading a “yes” to a “yes but…” as this will give you an opportunity to condition your agreement to what works best for you.

      Sometimes, the condition can be to do the task, but not in the time frame that was originally requested. Or perhaps you can do part of what has been asked.

      Final Thoughts

      Beginning right now, you can change how you respond to requests for your time. When the request comes in, take yourself off autopilot where you might normally say yes.

      Use the request as a way to draw a healthy boundary around your time. Pay particular attention to when you place certain demands on yourself.

      Try it now. Say no to a friend who continues to take advantage of your goodwill. Or, draw the line with a workaholic colleague and tell them you will complete the project, but not by working all weekend. You’ll find yourself much happier.

      More Tips on How to Say No

      Featured photo credit: Chris Ainsworth via unsplash.com

      Reference

      [1] Science of People: 11 Expert Tips to Stop Being a People Pleaser and Start Doing You
      [2] Anxiety and Depression Association of America: Tips to Get Over Your FOMO, or Fear of Missing Out
      [3] Cooks Hill Counseling: 9 Healthy Ways to Say “No”

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