The mistake we make in how we approach New Year’s resolutions.
By Connor Young on
It would be totally understandable if setting New Year’s resolutions has entirely fallen off your radar after a crazy 2020. After all, getting through this year has been hard enough.
And if you read anything about New Year’s resolutions, nearly every blog will show you dismal stats of resolutions success rates, followed by 7-10 tips to overcome the odds and be one of those in the successful camp.
Well-intentioned as it is, I think the current mainstream narrative around New Year’s resolutions sets us up for failure and stagnation. I instead invite us to massively reframe our mindset in order to maximize the rate of achieving our goals over time.
The current implicit belief systems around resolutions go something like this:
- Good, hard-working people make New Year’s resolutions.
- If you’re part of the 10-20% of people who maintain their commitments, you’re successful and disciplined.
- If you’re one of the 80-90% who fail, you’re lazy and undisciplined.
What’s the problem with these beliefs? New Year's resolutions put far too much pressure on the goals we set in January, which leads to an overwhelming sense of demoralization and stagnation if we fail.
If these are our belief systems, it’s no wonder why many of us don’t even bother setting goals!
Rather than approaching New Year's resolutions as your one shot to make 2021 less awful than 2020, I invite you instead consider your resolutions this year to simply be the first of many n=1 experiments you do to continually improve your personal process for making and setting goals throughout your life.
You can show up January 1st as a good athlete shows up for the first game or competition of the season—you can give your all and play to win, while recognizing that the end result is primarily a status check of where you’re strong and where you need to grow.
There’s no need to hype New Year’s resolutions into a make-or-break once-in-a-lifetime event like the Olympics or the Super Bowl because life isn’t a single-game season. After all, you don’t have to wait until next January to set a new goal—you can schedule a friendly rematch with yourself any time you want!
The shift in mindset will give you two amazing benefits:
First, it will naturally increase the frequency that you set goals for yourself. When you’ve emotionally de-risked the outcome of any single attempt at habit change, you’re less likely to internalize either success or failure for a single goal you set. When failure to achieve a goal doesn’t mean you’re intrinsically a failure or lazy, you become less fearful of setting goals in the first place, so you set goals far more often.
Second, your skill at achieving goals will dramatically improve. Now that you’re primarily focused on the process instead of the result, over time you’ll notice you’ve radically leveled up your ability to set and achieve goals in general, which is about the highest leverage skill you could ever learn.
Next week, I’m going to share a few tactical thoughts to achieve the goals themselves, but in the meantime, here are 2 questions I invite you to reflect on:
If I were to set only one New Year’s resolution, what would it be? Remember, since this is simply the first test of the year, you don’t need to cram 13 goals on your list right now. You can see what works for establishing just one habit, and work on more after this one is established.
- When in the past have I set a goal and then achieved it? What worked for me in that process? Keep in mind, the way you set and achieve goals is completely personal. Others and I can give you innumerable frameworks to try, but ultimately, reflecting on yourself and testing what works for you personally is the fastest way to master the skill of achieving goals.
My goal is to help you accomplish your goals, whatever they are, and to fully realize the greatness in you. There’s power in declaring your goals to others, so let us know in the Facebook group what your goals are, and how we can help you achieve them.