Helping Parents, Families, & Caregivers

Why You Should Avoid Making New Years Resolutions


Font, Lettering, Happy New Year
Photo Credit: BYKST

Are you making resolutions for the New Year? Why? Did they work last year or the year before that? If not, perhaps you are missing something. While in college about 7 years ago I found myself making a list of things I wanted to do for the new year. I made a list with columns focusing on each year. I made a list for 2010, 2011, and 2012. Unfortunately, that list got lost in the pressures and stressors of every week, month, and year. My intentions were to follow that list 100% until I satisfied myself with the feeling of accomplishment. But I failed to recognize one thing. I failed to recognize that I was increasing my stress level and creating lowerd self-esteem and high levels of uncertainty when I would not achieve what I felt I should have achieved. I created unnecessary stress trying to control my destiny. Something many of us don’t have control over.

So I decided to change the wording of my list and make my list a series of goals I would strive to achieve. Striving to achieve something is much less stressful than writing down goals you MUST achieve or else. So I want to encourage you to abandon those rigid new years resolutions and adopt a more flexible and empathic approach to setting goals in your life. I offer a series of steps below that might assist you in setting some goals for 2017.


I wish you all the best and Happy New Year!


Steps for setting flexible and specific goals:

  1. Your goals should be Specific. Specific goals may include something like “I hope to achieve my bachelors degree before 2019.” A specific goal allows you to stay focused and keep things organized.
  2. Your goals should be measurable. Can you measure progress you have made? If not, your goals will likely become a burden to you. You’ll want to check in with yourself every so often to see if you are on track or off track. For example, if your goal is to obtain your bachelors degree by 2019, you may want to check-in with yourself in May and then again in July to see if you are on the right track.
  3. Each goal you set should be achievable. In other words, you should be able to achieve the goal without much difficulty. You wouldn’t want to set a goal that is not achievable. For example, it’s much easier to achieve your Bachelors degree in 4 years than it is to achieve it in 2 years.
  4. Realistic goals include things such as earning your bachelors degree, getting a new job by April 2017, or having a baby in the next 3 months. Unrealistic goals include things such as striving to become president by 2019 without a college degree or trying to have a baby at 52 years old. Your goals should always make sense and be possible.
  5. Your goals also should be timely. Can you achieve that goal by 2019 or do you need more time? Make sure your goals are SMART – specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely.


If you find this way of setting goals to be complicated and perhaps even boring, try creating 3 columns on a piece of paper for each year (2017, 2018, and 2019) and begin making bullet points of the things you want to achieve in each year. Fold it and put it up somewhere you will be able to find it. Look at it every 3-6 months to see if you have either achieved some of your goals or have gotten closure to achieving them. You’d be surprised just how many goals you are capable of achieving in 1-2 years.

As always, I wish you well