New Year resolutioner or cynic?

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“The” List

Rapidly following the intensity of Christmas celebrations and festivities, is January 1st, a day that  initiates many good intentions commonly referred to as ‘New Year Resolutions’.

Yep you know what I’m talking about…we’ve all made them at least once in our lives! For a few they have mostly worked, the majority, very seldom, and for the cynics, never attempted.  The definition in Wikipedia of a resolution is ‘a commitment that a person makes to one or more personal goals, projects, or the reforming of a habit.’

Compellingly, A 2007 study by Richard Wiseman from the University of Bristol involving 3,000 people showed that 88% of those who set New Year resolutions fail, despite the fact that 52% of the study’s participants were confident of success at the beginning

“EXACTLY”, I hear the cynics cry out!…Why bother to make them if there is such a failure rate”. For me the question is “Why is the failure rate so high?”…..surely resolutions are a good thing.  So what’s going wrong?

I personally have always battled with New Year resolutions. Intention and lists of resolutions are always there, but following through is the challenge. One of my favourite bloggers and author Jeff-Goins suggests not to waste your time with writing resolutions but to rather focus on something else: resolve. He believes (seemingly confirmed by the % above), that many people make resolutions , but break them regularly. Why? He believes they’re not really resolving to do anything. They’re just wishing.

Without resolve, you have no hope of accomplishing your resolutions.

The answer suggested by Jeff.

“You need to commit. To choose into an intentional process that will make you better, not a set of audacious goals you’ll never meet. Goal-setting, while admirable, is, on its own, pointless. Goals, in and of themselves, aren’t sustainable. They tell you where you want to go, not how you’re going to get there. What you need are new habits  or disciplines— a new way of living that will bring different results.”

This may seem oversimplified for what is a complex subject, but certainly worth investigating. I will initially show resolve to a single ‘habit’ for the next 21 days at least. Instead of my “normal” bed time of between midnight to 3:00 am and waking somewhere between 7:00 am or  later, I commit to trying to get to bed as often as possible by 10:30 and waking at 5:30 am to begin my day with my spiritual disciplines.  There its public :-) 

In closing I offer a few other aspects to consider.

  • Shorten the list – Perhaps no more than 4 clear areas of resolve are more “achievable”
  • S.M.A.R.T. – Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic and Time-sensitive
  • Record – On computer, on small card you carry with you
  • Share – with accountability partner or even publicly
  • Spread them out – Vary target dates eg: by end March, June or December.
Please share thoughts, ideas and lessons learnt in comments box and happy ‘resolving’ in 2013.




Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

8 thoughts on “New Year resolutioner or cynic?

  1. Hey Ray, well I (like many other resolutionists) started jogging for my health again on this January 2013.

    At first the streets and places where I ran were literally packed with people I’ve never even seen before and now is back to normal.

    The same people that I normally see running and no more overcrowding the parks and jogging routes.

    For me, the hardest part about commitment is to get started and after overcoming that, then my focus shift to keeping the momentum.

    I normally will set really easy and achievable mini goals, i.e. “I will run for 5 days this week no questions asked”.

    If I manage to succeed, then I will say something very similar for next week and really gently start setting harder and harder goals until it becomes a habit again and it’s no longer difficult to keep up with.

    That’s how I can “trick” myself into not being a resolutionist and actually make things happen!


    • Hey Sergio,
      Thanks for your comments. I think you are really onto something here. Sometimes when we set “yearly goals” they either overwhelm us or just seem too far away. The “trick” of setting shorter smaller goals to begin with, being able to “tick them off” and move to the next goals I believe is much more effective.

      Thanks for sharing this and hope I see you again on my blog.

  2. Thank You Ray for those thoughts on New Year Resolutions. I agree fully and just love your comments on focus and make it measurable and simple. Thats the reason for running the Creative Word for the Year 2013 – it helps to bring our thoughts into focus and allows God to speak into our lives throughout the year – simple, focused and listening for God’s guidance.

  3. As I stated on my fb a while ago – I am resolving to try and do random acts of kindness this year. So far I gave a gentlemen a £5 voucher off his shopping who was in the queue on front of me. I had it in my purse and knew I couldn’t use it so gave it to him and then, after a conversation with an elderly gentleman the other day who commented that he particularly liked something and did not know where to buy one, I managed to find said thing and buy him one. I will give it to him in church tomorrow. Only small things but I am hoping more opportunities will arrive. Also I am partaking in pay it forward. Hope that little by little I can change the world starting from where I am now. Oh also volunteered to drive my friends to dinner tonight…………already regretting that one! ha ha! Happy new year to you and your readers :-)

    • Hi Jenny…..your resolve and commitment to acts of kindness is a great act to start your year. Simple yet thoughtful act such as those you have described are potentially life-changing for the recipients. I hope others catch on to your idea and think of some of their own….I am certain it will bring fulfillment that a commitment made at the beginning of the year was followed through.

      Thanks for participating in the Maximised LIving Tribe

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