Why Making New Year’s Resolutions Means Setting Yourself up for Failure

Stacey Freeman

By Stacey Freeman | Jan 2nd, 2017

If you are anything like, um, most people, you probably got ready for New Year’s Day by lining up those good ol’ resolutions. “I am going to lose 15 pounds.” “I am going to wake up 45 minutes earlier to exercise.” “I am going to fold my laundry immediately after it comes out of the dryer.” That last one is extremely personal to me. Sigh…

Who am I kidding? I have made these same resolutions for years. And, get ready, I haven’t lost those 15 pounds. I am still not working out before my kids get up for school (which, I may add, is at a time when it is still dark outside). And I am convinced that I will perpetually have an unfolded basket of clean laundry to fold because there are not enough hours in the day. Not to mention that I hate folding laundry!

So what does all of that mean? By setting up the same New Year’s resolutions for myself each year I am, in effect, setting myself up for failure, which stinks because I never like to fail – at anything. That is why this year I am not making any New Year’s resolutions. Nope. Not a one.

Now, before you get yourself into a tizzy and tell me that I am copping out by not even trying, listen to me for just a moment. I am going to work on improving myself. I am simply going to go about it in a different way starting now. Instead of making New Year’s resolutions that I know I will be unable to sustain, at least not all at once, what I am going to do is make myself a promise. And that promise is to improve me and better my life gradually.

My now ex-husband would often say to me whenever I put unnecessary pressure on myself, “Life is a long race.” What he meant was that whether we are competing against others or ourselves, there will always be a time when circumstances won’t go quite our way, making it difficult if not impossible to fulfill some of our goals at that particular time. In other words, drawing lines in the sand that those unwanted pounds have to start coming off of me by January 1 or that I must jog on the treadmill at five o’clock in the morning, or that my clothes hampers must be empty, or whatever else I am beating myself up about is self-defeating.

I am not going to judge myself harshly. And, most importantly, I am not going to deprive myself of a second chance.

What happens if, on the first of January, I have the flu and cannot drag myself out of bed to work out, let alone fold the laundry? What if I feel like eating that cookie because it would go so perfectly with my afternoon coffee? Does it matter if I start my workout regimen in April when the weather is warmer and I can walk outside, which is something I love to do? Should I feel like a failure because I didn’t accomplish all of my goals in January? And do I lack will power because I want to indulge in a cookie once in a while?

I say, no.

Which is why this year I am going to make a list of anti-resolutions for myself, promises that I know I can realistically keep. Among them will be that I am not going to try and be a perfect person – mom, friend, or otherwise. I am not going to judge myself harshly. And, most importantly, I am not going to deprive myself of a second chance. Or a third, or however many I need.

New Year’s Day is a time for new beginnings. But so too is every other day of the year, meaning that today is as good a day as any to start.

Stacey Freeman

Stacey Freeman

Stacey Freeman is a New York City-based writer, lifestyle editor at Worthy.com, and the founder and managing director of Write On Track.


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