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  • Writer's pictureMadhura

New Year's resolutions don’t work. Try this instead

Do you set new year resolutions? How many new year resolutions do you have this year? Do you follow through them every year? How many days before your new year resolutions fall through the cracks of daily hustle? Have you ever thought why don’t new year’s resolutions work? If they don’t work, what works instead? Is there some magical motivation that helps us follow through that big list? Do you have answers to these questions? If not, don’t worry today, you are going to get all the answers.

Hello my dear friends, welcome to yet another episode of Morning Cup of Sunshine. I hope you are having a great day so far. How was the first brand new week of the new year? I am sure you must have made a list of some new year resolutions for this year and I am even more sure that you had a great week in terms of following those resolutions. Am I correct? But let me tell you a secret or shall I say let me ask you a question. Tell me one thing, how many of these 2021 resolutions were part of your list in 2020 as well? How many times did you plan on losing those final 10 pounds? How many times did you plan on waking up early? I am sure too many times. I was no different. I had the same items in my list for many many years. I always wanted to write consistently, I always wanted to exercise consistently. But it never happened till the last year. But something shifted last year. What a relief to call 2020 , a last year, right? Anyway, I was telling about some change, some shift in my mindset that helped me follow through my resolutions for an entire year. Today, I am going to help you bring that change as well.

But before we dive into today’s ultra motivating episode, let me tell you all about the fun we had on new year’s eve. This was totally different from what we used to have all previous years. This year we stayed home and we celebrated the new year as a family. But it was the most fun evening I had in so many days. We played monopoly and we fought like a child for each place. We argued, we laughed, there were even some tears. But all four of us had an amazing fun night. We had Tacos for dinner. We also had homemade strawberry and chocolate ice-cream. We danced, we sang, we laughed. It was such an awesome evening. You must have guessed by my voice in my last podcast episode how much talking and singing was involved. I had no other choice but to record early morning on January 1st since my house was always loud for an entire winter break. But I had the most amazing time with kids. Initially, I thought New Year's Eve without a party would be boring but it was the exact opposite. I had a blast, it was definitely my happiest moment of the week. How was your week? I am curious to know your happy moments. Don’t forget to post your joyful moments in our Facebook group, Morning Cup of sunshine Community. I always have a post for happy moments on Sunday. I will be waiting for your happy moments there..

Alright, let’s get into today’s episode without any further delay. I made a statement, that new year’s resolutions don’t work. Isn’t it true? Think about all the times, when you decided on new year’s eve to workout every single day from the next day and failed as soon as the weekend came. Do you see a pattern in your new year’s resolutions? Do you keep on setting the same resolutions year after year not because you would love them to continue as a habit but because you failed at it last year. Do you know what could be the culprit? There are 4 reasons why new year resolutions don’t work on their own. Do you want to know, then keep listening to this episode.

All or nothing mindset

Just think about your pattern for the past several years, the moment January 1st rolls around, you decide to eat healthy, save more money, or lose weight. The problem with these well intended new year’s resolutions is that you are trying to change your entire life, your existing lifestyle overnight. For the first week, you do your best to stick to your resolutions. You eat healthy, you workout every single day. But the moment you have one small setback, one small glitch in your routine, you buckle under the pressure of daily routine. Our mind is like an internal context. It triggers the series of emotions, it tries to find the context, reasoning for these failures. It does find the context in all previous year’s failures and then it all spirals down there. It becomes your belief that you can not stick to your new year resolutions. The problem lies with all or nothing mindset. It is the expectation of perfection, which causes you to lose hope and stop working. How about this time, you stop blaming yourself for one small glitch? How about you start accepting your own shortcomings and give yourself a little grace? How about you give yourself the second or third or even forth chance to change? To err is human right? Remember, you have a very good intention but you are trying way too hard, change should come naturally to you. It should be organic. Isn’t it? Like the author Jennette Winterson said, life is never about all or nothing, it is always all and nothing. Life can not be binary. Isn’t it so true?

Not having SMART resolutions

Do you see one more issue with the new year’s resolutions that we discussed for the first reason? Eat healthy, save more money, lose weight. Those new year’s resolutions are not SMART. What do you really mean by healthy? Is it home cooked? Is it eating a lot of green vegetables? Is it about following a certain diet like keto, paleo or something else? What do you mean by saving more money? How much? Are you going to invest in something? Same for weight loss. How much do you want to lose? Why do you want to lose? Knowing WHY is always important. Otherwise, you yourself won’t believe in you. You won’t believe that you can lose those extra 20 pounds. You are simply not clear of your own why. The resolutions need to be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely. That makes it SMART resolution. You have to spend some time and get into details before you set those NEW Year’s resolutions. Write down your why, why do you want to set that resolution. Is it realistic? Have you checked your expenses and earnings before you commit to a certain savings plan? How are you going to measure your success? Is it measurable? Always, remember Rome was not built in a day. Small steps, small actions make a big impact when they come together, Consistency is always the key to everything in the world. I am a huge fan of breaking down big tasks into smaller, bite size chunks. It helps me gain confidence to work on it. If you decide one day to start your own blog one day, it can be overwhelming at first. But if you break it down into smaller chunks like on day 1 you will just work on finding your niche. On day 2 you will find the platform to host your website. One day 3, you simply learn how to create a simple website using some YouTube videos and try your hand at it. Maybe next week, practice writing some content. Step by step , day by day is my mantra. But for that you need to have SMART resolutions. You need to know the exact direction that you have to walk on to reach your ultimate goal. That is the reason only resolutions don’t work but instead they need a solid plan.

Not having a plan -

Just the knowledge of theory won’t take you anywhere. If you just know theory but no practical steps to achieve those resolutions, then it is extremely hard to get any traction. If you want to lose 10 pounds by the end of the year. Now, even though your resolution is SMART, if you don’t have the action plan to achieve that resolution, it will still not work. It is not that tough to create a plan. I believe in small changes. Look closely into your daily routine. What are some small habits that you can alter to create a change? What are some small habits that you can acquire to bring a change? Let’s take the same weight loss example, can you park your car farther in the parking lot so that you have to walk a little more to get to the store? Can you use stairs instead of taking an elevator? Can you wake up half an hour early and get your workout done first thing in the morning? Can you prepare your meals on the weekend so that you always have a healthy, home cooked meal available to you during the week? These are some small steps , doable steps. This is an actual, doable, solid action plan. This will take you closer to your resolution. Planning is extremely important if you want to achieve something.. It seems tedious and time consuming at first but it has insane benefits. If you take just half an hour of your time on Sunday to plan your week ahead, I guarantee you, you will feel much more calm and confident going into the week. Any goal without a plan is only a dream. We are here to achieve something, become the better version of ourselves, right? So plan your action steps to get closer to that vision. Always, remember, an hour of planning saves you a day of doing.

Keeping it secret -

This may sound a little weird to you. But I have seen so many people who keep all their new year’s resolutions or dreams secret. You keep all your new year resolutions secret because you are already afraid that you are going to fail. But because of all this secrecy you lose the support system which you could have if you would have shared your resolutions with like minded friends and family. Nobody is going to steal your dream. Instead you will get support from your friends and family. If you are already afraid that you are going to fail then introspect if those dreams are SMART, if you have an action plan, if you really want to achieve that dream, if you are really serious about it. If answers to all these questions are yes, then don’t worry, declare it to the world. Nobody is judging you for your dreams, at least you are trying something right? Keeping it secret already feels like a step closer to failure. Trust yourself, you can do it. If you follow the plan that you yourself have devised, you will not fail. But in case you have any setbacks, isn’t it better to have someone besides you to support you, guide you, or even just listen to you?

What Works

Now that we have discussed why new year’s resolutions don’t work, we have to find what works instead, right? Do you know what works instead? Any guesses? Habits work, goals work. You set a new year’s resolution to make a new habit or change the existing one. But if you want to change your existing habit, you need to basically create a new habit right? So, it’s all about creating new habits. Let’s take an example, when you say instead of having takeout meals multiple times a week, I want to cook more at home. This essentially means you want to change the habit of having take outs by creating a new habit to cook at home. Am I correct? It’s all about creating a new habit. Is it easy? Yes, if you follow the steps I mentioned in my most popular episode, Start a new habit. I already have an episode on how to start a habit. I highly recommend you to listen to that episode. I will put a link in the show notes for you.

The second thing that works instead of just new year’s resolutions is goals. Instead of setting some random and vague new year resolution, set goals. Even before setting a goal, you need to reflect on last year. Think about the habits, small changes that worked in your favor. Reflection is always the first step before you could set new goals. Once you know what works and what doesn’t for you then, set intentions. Those could be a little vague but should give you an idea of how you want your life to look like. Finally, once you are done with your reflections and intentions then it is time to set the goal. How to set a goal? More about that in the next episode. Stay tuned to listen to a highly motivating episode with an exact action plan and tangible steps. Don’t miss out on that one for sure. Together let’s set the goals that excites you, make you work on them every single day. Always, remember, setting a goal is the first step to convert an invisible idea into the visible reality.


On this note, let me quickly recap this episode, today as part of my new year series, we discussed all the new year’s resolutions. I think just setting new year’s resolutions on January 1st don’t work because of several reasons. Some of those reasons are -

  1. All or Nothing attitude

  2. Not having SMART resolutions

  3. Not having a plan

  4. Keeping it a secret.

But what works instead? Goals work, habits work. Tiny habits, small changes, consistent action plan work. Together let’s work on setting goals, the ones that scares you a little but excites you a whole lot to achieve them. Let’s approach this new year with the resolve to find the opportunities hidden in every single day.

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