Why do so many resolutions not make it past the first week of January?

As we rush headlong towards the start of a New Year, isn’t it amazing how time flies? Where did 2012 go to? Mind you, a new year often brings a lot of new things as people prepare for a ‘fresh start’, and promise to deal with many of the things that have previously held them back. New Year’s Resolutions are a popular activity, and the tradition goes back as far as the Roman and Babylonian civilizations, but why do only a fraction of them work? Are people just less tenacious than they used to be, or do people just expect to break them?

Here’s food for thought: The problem with resolutions may not be the resolutions themselves, but the way they are put together. People make nebulous statements which have no end point and can’t be measured. Here are some examples of what I’m talking about:

“I will make more time for my family
“I will curse less”
“I will eat less candy”
“I will be nicer to people”
“I will drink more water”

The thing that connects all of these statements is that it’s impossible to know if you’ve achieved them. If they can’t be measured and have no deadline, then how can you follow them?

So, if resolutions are a waste of time, what’s the alternative? Forget resolutions. Instead, set goals that will work. Resolve NOT to resolve, and instead set yourself some achievable targets.

Have a look at these tips to help you craft some well-written goals which will guide you to great things in 2013.


SMART, in this instance, stands for Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-Bound. If your goals follow these tenets, then it gives you the impetus to reach the end, and you’ll know when you get there! The difference between a goal and a SMART goal is the difference between ‘I want to be thinner’ and ‘I will lose 15 pounds by 1st May’. Which is more likely to be a successful goal?

Share Your Vision.

Tell people. You are more likely to reach a goal when you’ve shared it with others. Keep a goal to yourself and you are less likely to reach it. Who knows why the psychology of this works, but it does. By involving others in your goals and dreams, it not only motivates you, but enables a support system for you to achieve them. Like it or not, your friend may remind you of your weight loss goal when you’re reaching for the third cookie!

Write them down.

While some people might think this practice useless, it is huge. For some reason, written goals are much more likely to be achieved than goals that are not written. And don’t just tuck them away, never to be seen again. Keep them visible, in your planner, on your refrigerator, or even in your Smartphone.

Check in on your goals regularly.

Make it a practice to review your goals and progress toward them regularly. Make it a routine to include checking in on your goals when you are establishing your daily or weekly plans. This keeps them alive. It also helps you make space for them in your daily or weekly plans, rather than being trumped by everyone else’s “to-do’s.”


When you’ve reached your goal, enjoy it! Celebrate. Plan for the celebration. One of my clients loves to attend plays. Her reward to herself for reaching one of her goals was to see a certain play when she reached her goal. She did both, and both were memorable. Some goals are very lofty and have many subparts. In this situation, celebrate incremental achievements. If you make it a practice to reward yourself or pat yourself on the back as you reach the smaller milestones, you can actually energize yourself towards the final goal. Interim milestones keep the ultimate goal present, keep your energy about them high, and a sense of accomplishment along the way.

The secret to success.

The biggest challenge about goal setting is just plain “getting to it. So instead of making a resolution set a goal (or two) this year. Write them down. Tell others. Review them regularly. Then enjoy your celebrations.

Author's Bio: 

Marsha Egan, CPCU, PCC is CEO of The Egan Group, Inc., a Reading, PA based professional coaching firm. She is a certified workplace productivity coach and professional speaker, specializing in leadership development and can be reached at marsha@marshaegan.com or visit http://www.InboxDetox.com.