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The Five Biggest New Year’s Resolution Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

January 1, 2019



The Five Biggest New Year’s Resolution Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

By Rochelle Melander


Mistake #1: Setting a “Should” Resolution

If you’ve got a resolution that leaves you feeling, “meh,” then you might be caught in the “should” trap. We set these resolutions because they’re good for us, our career or our family. We feel like we “should” lose weight, get that certification, or write the technical manual. But despite all the concrete evidence that these goals would be good for us, we don’t have any passion for them. Reader, that’s a big sign that these goals are not your goals.


The fix

The resolutions that work succeed because we are passionate about them. We have a burning desire to run every day or write a book. We wake up thinking about it, believe in it, and would regret not accomplishing it. Before you commit to a resolution, ask:

What do I want to do?

Why do I want to do it?

Would I do this if I had only five years to live? (See last week’s post.)


Mistake #2: Setting Too Many Resolutions

We get caught up in the spirit of the season and want to transform EVERYTHING about our lives. We feel impatient with the present, and so we set a whole bunch of resolutions. But it’s hard to make significant progress on multiple goals at once. Working on one project at a time increases our chances of finishing it.


The Fix

If you’ve got lots of goals on your mind, list them. I encourage clients to categorize these by type: health goals, writing goals, house goals, financial goals, and so forth.


Then ask:

What goal matters most to you?

If you could choose only one goal, what would it be?

What do you want to accomplish in the first half of the year?


Create a priority list. In The Bullet Journal Method, Ryder Carroll recommends the 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 method for setting priorities: What do you want to accomplish in 5 years, 4 months, 3 weeks, 2 days, and 1 hour?

Mistake #3: Setting a Huge Resolution

Thanks to “Bigger is Better” thinking, we might believe that Big Hairy Audacious Goals are better than tiny ones. We don’t just want to write a book, we’ve planned a 3-book series. Forget taking a daily run, we’ll run a marathon a month. But humans do not do well with giant steps or drastic changes. When we set big resolutions, the fear part of our brain freaks out. We’ll do just about anything to avoid that big, scary goal.


The fix

Start by setting a small, concrete resolution. Let’s say you do want to write a 3-book series. The first part of that resolution is to write book one—and that might be your first goal for the year. If you can give the book a title or topic, that will help. Then break up your resolution into a bunch of small steps. Ryder Carroll calls these “sprints.”


Ask: What sprints could I take toward my goal?


So, Write a Book about Networking becomes

+List my favorite books

+Review each book for structure and style

+Write down topics I’d like to cover


Mistake #4: Failing to Plan

So we want to write a book, run a marathon, or grow our social media following. We set a goal, create a vision board, and maybe even get some supplies. But unless we have a concrete plan for how we will accomplish our goal, we’ll get nowhere.


The fix

Break up your goal up into small steps (See “the fix” under mistake #3). Then write down anything else you might need to accomplish this goal, including supplies and support. Finally—and this is the most important part—schedule the small steps into your calendar.


Mistake #5: Going it Alone

Our culture loves to celebrate the accomplishments of individuals. But everyone needs support, even if their goal depends solely on them. Yeah, you need to put your butt in the chair to write that book—but you don’t have to do it alone. National Novel Writing Month works for so many people because suddenly writing a book feels like a team effort.


The fix

Get yourself a team! Find an accountability buddy, hire a coach, enlist people to cheer you on—whatever it takes to get you to work toward your goal!


I can help!

And if writing a book, starting a blog or breaking into the freelance market is on your list of things to accomplish this year, I can help. Set up a consultation.


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