The Resolution Farce

I don’t do New Year’s resolutions. I don’t recommend them. I do, however, have no problem with people establishing goals and using some demarcation point – the New Year is fine – as a time of assessment.

NOTE: I have not checked for usage and grammar. If that hangs you up, you probably aren’t going to achieve your goal anyway. Get over it!
– the management

The problem with resolutions is that people make grandiose plans to completely change their life based on this demarcation point. The problem is, they have not developed, nor clearly thought through the discipline, internal integrity, and the skills necessary to implement such a change.

It is because New Year’s Resolutions are a farce and have failure built in to them.

For instance, Diet & Exercise:

This is a big one for the resolution crowd. They’ll decide, sometimes prior to Thanksgiving, that they will eat anything and everything without any governance or temperance as a way to “get it out of their system,” prior to starting their new Diet and Exercise regimen after the New Year.

Armed with a new workout outfit and bag of gear, plus a year’s membership to a nice expensive gym, and a trainer, they determine that January 1st is “their time.”

The problem is, they’ve trained themselves only in compromise and putting it off until some future point. They’ve already determined that “change” isn’t something they really want.. they want the result and they are fine with that change occurring in the future. They are committed to their current lifestyle because they don’t really want to give it up.

They hit the gym – day 1 – excited. They, and the other resolutes, show up and congratulate each other. They workout, they sweat, they meet after at the juice bar and “replenish” with a wheat grass shake.

Day 2 – they’re sore! Oops. Day 3, they are even more sore. And well, you don’t want to injure yourself. Plus, they’ll be back on it by Day 4 or 5.

There are variations on the theme but by about mid-January, most have missed 2-3 workouts. Because workouts are NOT how they view life. They’ve also been dipping into those sweets and pies and other stuff left-over from the holidays. Can’t let that shit spoil!

Diet and exercise are impositions on the life they’ve trained for. In fact, they went into a hardcore boot camp through the holidays. Eat whatever, whenever, to get it “out of their system.” Remember?

And by February, they’ve “failed” at the resolution. Once you’ve failed at the resolution – because the resolution is always a “future” item, it is easy to now point to some other future point – the beginning of February. President’s day! The start of spring. June 1st. The end of summer.

Soon –  because the future is always soon – we are starting November where it is pretty easy to see New Year’s around the corner. They can they say, “Okay.. after the holidays I am gonna do it!” Lather – Rinse – Repeat!

The resolute life

I have no problem with resolutions per se – but trust me, if the resolution is in the form of, “after the holidays” or “after this pack of cigarettes is gone” or “after this week I’ll get serious about my business” – you are simply NOT ready to make the change. There is no “after…” in a resolute life. There is, however, NEXT!

There is only the next resolved action.

This is helpful because you will fail and/or slip up repeatedly – particularly as you change the way you live and think.

Diet and Exercise in a resolute life:

Again, I’m using diet and exercise because it is a common one but the concept applies across business, finance, relationships, etc. It is ultimately about creating repeatable patterns – and avoiding destructive patterns – or at least avoiding patterns that do not fit your resolute life.. your goals.

“I’m taking a walk today and I’m going to eat a little less and a little better today. “

And then you do it. It leads to two things.. 1 – a small success, 2 – you are hungry.

Pre-determined actions/patterns

This is where patterns and pre-determined actions come in.

You see, if anyone tells you, you can lose weight without ever feeling anything like hunger, they are lying to you. I repeat, they are lying to you! If they tell you, you can “intend” to lose weight or that there is a magical pill – lying again.

They key to making a change in anything and avoiding failure as much as possible, is to pre-determine actions that break destructive or unwanted actions or patterns.

What is not intentional is accidental

Here is the thing about breaking patterns. You cannot just identify the new pattern or habit, you need to have a pre-determined way to address the old habit. If not, it will just happen.

So, let’s visit diet again. I don’t believe there is anything wrong with having ice cream or chocolate. I love those things. I’m particularly fond of vanilla ice cream or rocky road. I can eat a LOT of it. Multiple large servings.

So.. for me, I keep it to a single small scoop or a small cone 1 time a week. This is NOT a cheat day! It isn’t even a reward. It is simply the pattern for my diet. I do NOT buy a half-gallon of ice cream. I buy a small cone – and tell whoever is making it to make it 1/3rd the size they normally make it. Or I buy one of those single-serving cups of Haagen Daaz at the store.

I allow myself 1 per week but I’ll be honest, I probably eat 1 per month. It just doesn’t figure into my day to day that often.

On the other hand, if I have 2 in a week, that’s okay too.. but my pattern is pretty much established.

If you are going to a friend’s house and you know there will be pie, cake, etc. eat it! That’s all good. Just have MUCH smaller portions and NO seconds.

Filling your plate for dinner.. fill it and then remove 2/3rds of it. That’s probably enough.

And have your snacks.. just not chocolate. Don’t have it around and lie to yourself and say you won’t eat it. Instead, buy celery, cut green peppers, etc. – without ranch dressing. Just don’t have the option available to you. If you say you need ranch dressing, you are perpetuating a lie.. you don’t.. be a grown up.. come on, you can do it.

Soda’s? Just don’t! Juice either.. you don’t need it around the house.

If you pre-determine key actions, they won’t surprise you. You know what is coming up in your day!

If you do not predetermine (get intentional) with easily identifiable patterns and actions, you will “accidentally” repeat the same old pattern.

In Summary

Resolutions that have a future start date – specifically one that provides allowance for continuing bad, destructive or unwanted patterns – indicate a lack of readiness to make the change. The future date won’t help you. It will only reinforce that you can always “do it in the future.”

Like the song says, “Someday Never Comes.”

Instead of working on your New Year’s Resolutions, work on your resolve and create your resolute life!

Some simple steps for goals and their achievement

  1. Determine the desired goal

  2. Determine daily actions that get you there

  3. Identify patterns that derail you or work against you

  4. Create pre-determined actions that circumvent or do not allow for those patterns
    (intentional versus accidental)

  5. Put your first small action in play today/immediately.

  6. Resolve to reset daily if there is a set back (and there will be)

  7. Lather – Rinse – Repeat

What are your thoughts?


Posted in Blog, Career, Coaching.


  1. I believe that most people do not follow through on their resolutions is that they do not identify the skills they need to develop to achieve the goal. That is the missing link. They also do not identify and write down the skills they already possess to achieve the goal. Identifying both will be magic for the people who are serious about their goals. Once people identify the skill, they are basically setting an intention and the resource will fall in their laps. This has been my experience.

  2. All things in moderation, save maybe water, laughter, and clean air.

    Seems like more and more of us are coming around to the reality of the most important resolution – resolving the smaller details on daily basis which drive the long term goals we set for ourselves.

    For most people – I think it’s human nature to struggle with this, we’ve all got our weaknesses – these goals are little more than desired destinations. “Hawaii” is a goal for many people but how many step it up with SMART goals like “Honolulu in early December?”

    Even then, as you point out, the problem isn’t so much the goal, it’s the avoidance of the painful reality that is where we are right now. Lizard brain doesn’t want to admit wrongdoing, and doesn’t want to work very hard for pleasure, so admitting we’re going to have to make sacrifices – however small and benign in the day-to-day – to get us to Honolulu in early December is painful.

    Tack on the psychological implications of failure to meet something you were supposedly resolute in deciding to do, and you only make it harder on yourself.

    This year, I’ve got some goals, but I’m not as focused on them as I am my sense of general direction and seeking out little process changes in my daily life. Goals are destinations. SMART goals are specific deadlines for getting specific places, but we’re not going anywhere without an honest appraisal of where we are right now and the little steps we need to take on our journey.

    Happy new year.

  3. Connie.. Thanks for reading & sharing. I agree with having a clear understanding of the skills necessary.

    Not sure about the “intention” part.. as someone who does not believe the “Law of Attraction” as taught- instead believing in another LOA, “The Law of Action (and Analysis).”

    I’m careful to point out, I believe in being intentional with planning and action as opposed to “intentions” being the critical piece. That, of course, is another topic of discussion. 😉

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