The 25 Resolutions You Won’t Keep (And Why)

We are six days into January 2014, which means that many people are probably still working to get their resolutions accomplished successfully. Before too long, we can probably expect that most people are going to have given up on their goals, if not forgotten about them entirely.  It’s a cliché, I know, but let’s be honest, it’s one with lots of basis in reality; not many people can stick with their goals, it seems, with numerous reasons why.

Simply put, the human mind is a crazy thing, and if you don’t make your resolutions the right way, you’ll find yourself unable to meet your goals.  So, before you get too involved in your current resolutions, it’s a good idea to ensure that they are ones that are possible to achieve.  I realize that resolutions you make on January 6th (or later) may not technically count as New Year’s Resolutions, but let’s be honest, you shouldn’t have to wait for one specific day each year to set your goals (particularly when it’s a day when you are likely still recovering from a night of drinking).  That’s why it’s good to consider these

25 Resolutions You Won’t Keep (and the Reasons Why)

1. “I am Going to Lose a Lot of Weight”

2. “I am Going to Greatly Decrease My Debt”

3. “I am Going to Become Healthier”

4. “I am Going to More Money”

5. “I am Going to Work Harder at My Job”

Reason for Failure: Too Vague There’s a common theme here; none of these goals are specific.  It’s hard to determine what would count as ‘more money’ or ‘healthier’.  Plus, even if you do manage to earn a higher level of cash or lose some weight in the new year, how much do you need to earn before you can call the resolution successful?

How to Succeed: Set specific values for your goals.  Instead of ‘lose lots of weight’, try ‘lose 50 pounds’.  Instead of ‘greatly decrease my debt’, set a specific level of debt to eliminate, perhaps only a few thousand if you aren’t making much money (like I’m trying).  It doesn’t take much work to make your vague goal into a measurable one, although there are considerations with measurable goals, as well:

6. “I am Going to Learn to Speak French, German, Spanish, Japanese, and Chinese”

7. “I am Going to Travel Around the World”

8. “I am Going to Become a Chess Grandmaster”

9. “I am Going to Master the Guitar”

10. “I am Going to Lose 220 Pounds (~100 Kilograms)”

Reason For Failure: Too Ambitious Each of these goals is an incredible task, one that would take years and years to meet.  Trying to accomplish them in a single year would be incredibly time-intensive, at best.  At worst, you could find yourself mentally or physically stressed to the point where you may need medical assistance (particularly if you are trying to lose more weight than is healthy, generally cited as 1-2 pounds (~.5-1 kilograms) per week).

How to Succeed: Set more reasonable goals.  Rather than try to learn five languages, focus on just one for this year.  Rather than attempt to travel around the world, find the countries you’d most like to visit and visit one per month (or three to four per vacation, whichever is more suitable for your life, geographic location and work schedule).  Try to lose five to ten pounds (~2.2-4.4 kilograms) per month… You get the idea.  You can do all of these things, given time and the chance to put in suitable effort, but trying to do them in a single year is just crazy.

'Become an Expert Goaltender' is also a rough one
‘Become an Expert Goaltender’ is also a rough one

11. “I am Going to Never Bite My Nails Again”

12. “I am Going to Never Smoke Again”

13. “I am Going to Never Eat Unhealthy Food”

14. “I am Going to Never Pick My Nose”

15. “I am Going to Always Look on the Bright Side of Life”

Reason for Failure: Requires Immediate, Difficult Changes  You’re not going to change your situation in life immediately, particularly things as woven into your life as smoking, eating unhealthy, or biting nails.  It will take time and continued effort put into your goals to achieve your goals.  While resolutions are all about change, that change won’t occur overnight.

How to Succeed: It’s possible to do all of these things, but you’re going to need to give yourself some time.  Don’t expect that you’ll never slip up, but be ready to get back on the horse and resume your progress toward your goal.  One mistake is not a sign that you should quit, but it may mean you need to rethink how you progress.

16. “I am Going to Get a Promotion”

17. “I am Going to Get That Job”

18. “I am Going to Start Dating That Girl/Guy”

19. “I am Going to Win the Beauty Contest”

20. “I am Going to Win the Election”

Reason for Failure: Depends on How Other People React All of these goals depend on how other people react to you, and are, at least in part, beyond your control.  In spite of your quality of work, effort, or any skills you may possess, you still aren’t guaranteed to win an election, land a particular job, or date a certain person.  Your success depends on whether there are other people who are more qualified, more appealing to the voters, or simply more appropriate for a given person to date.

How to Succeed: This does not mean that you shouldn’t set these goals as ones to work towards, but you shouldn’t base your entire success or failure on how other people react in the end.  Becoming a more skillful worker, attractive boyfriend/girlfriend, or an overall better person is what resolutions are all about.  Working on those skills should help you to meet the goals noted above, but you shouldn’t be upset if things don’t go exactly as planned.  As before, you should be ready to just pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and find another goal that you will work towards.

21. “I am Going to Become a Professional Athlete”

22. “I am Going to Get an Olympic Medal”

23. “I am Going to Become a Successful Movie Star”

24. “I am Going to Write a Best-Selling Novel”

25. “I am Going to Make My Blog World-Famous”

Reason for Failure: All of the Above These are incredibly ambitious goals (to put it mildly).  They’re also fairly vague, require a lot of immediate and difficult changes (if you aren’t already working towards them), and depend on other peoples’ athletic skill or acting or writing ability.  To call them difficult is underestimating things greatly.

How to Succeed: I’ll be frank with you; there’s nothing you can do to be certain to achieve these goals, regardless of your skills, effort, and downright gumption.  Now, this is not to say that you shouldn’t make the effort to increase your skills in a particular area and work towards these goals.  Increasing your athletic skill, acting ability, or writing skills are all reasonable things to do.  Just…don’t expect to reach world fame or world class athletic ability in the course of a year.

These are hardly the only resolutions you aren’t guaranteed to meet (unfortunately), nor are these the only problems you’ll encounter along the way (even more unfortunately).  They should provide a good guide to how to improve your resolutions and determine how to make resolutions that you are more likely to achieve.  What advice would you give on achieving your resolutions and other goals?

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