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4 Steps to Move Past Failed New Years Resolutions This Month

Failure brings lots of people into February, but with self compassion and some re-framing, New Year’s resolutions don’t have to end there.

Credit: Pexels/Djordje Vezilic

As the resolution craze settles, failure can be what leads people into February, but that is no way to start your year before throwing the towel in work through these five steps.

1. Evaluate

Take a step back from the “all or nothing” mentality that has been attached to New Year’s resolutions. Then, take a second to realize how unattainable that mentality is. Ask, was the goal I set actually attainable given what I can do/ have done in the past?

Most times, the answer is no. VeryWellMind quotes clinical Psychologist Terry Bly’s explanation that “as humans, we do tend to be optimistic in the face of evidence.” So even though data shows that 91% of people never accomplish their goals, year after year, the same ones are rewritten. It’s nothing bad, more so innate. Who wouldn’t want to believe they can change?

Most people spawn resolutions in the contemplation state of change, where you are just aware there is a problem but not quite ready to take action. They think the change of year will be the push that shoves them from stage two to stage four, but in reality, nothing changes except the calendar.

You can’t skip over stage three, which is preparation and determination. To make a lasting difference, there needs to be a “why” and a “how,” not just a belief.

NYE Resolutions Statistics. Credit: ForbesHealth

2. Rethink

Build up a strong foundation to stand upon. Instead of aimlessly spitfiring a goal, rethink what it is you actually want. Lots of times, our goals are huge and all-encompassing to evade specificity. There is less accountability in saying, “I will start eating healthy” than saying, “I will start meal prepping lunches every Sunday at noon.”

Lack of specificity makes it easier to quit and forget, so boil down that blanket statement into something smaller. Think about the “why” of your goal to get to its core.

The New Year’s presence through social media and word of mouth can distort individual “why.” Step 2 is where you must decide if your goal is even something you want. If there is no intrinsic motivation behind it, meaning there is no personal satisfaction from completing your goal, the chances of sticking it out are slim.

Brain Depiction. Credit: Pexels/Tara Winstead

3. Make a soft timeline

There is a certain immediacy to New Year’s resolutions. Maybe because the world is all starting at the same time, it can feel a bit like a race; regardless of why, stripping the immediacy away will create a clearer path to your goals.

It is way more appealing to have your desired outcome in a month than in six, but after step 1, you know what is attainable. It can be quite freeing to realize you can work slowly.

Give some wiggle room. Life isn’t like a college chemistry class; the problem set isn’t due at midnight. Having flexibility blocked into a goal will make inevitable hiccups much easier to get past.

This step is very subjective and goal-specific so let yourself complete it without the influence of anyone else.

Planner and Computer. Credit: Pixels/Michaela

4. Start again, ready to fail

Once you are more prepared with research and a plan, it is time to start. Unfortunately, there is no other way around it. No matter the goal, it will probably be uncomfortable at first.

Humans try to avoid discomfort as much as possible, which is part of the reason so many resolutions are given up. The thing that sets failure and success apart has become how comfortable you can be with both.

That’s why moving past the initial New Year’s failure and going for round two is already a big step—a step into discomfort and change.

Written By

Hi! I'm Addie, a journalism student at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo. I'm new to Trill, but have been writing for as long as I can remember. Originally I'm from Denver, Colorado, where I love to spend time with my snowboard, my guitar, and my dogs.

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