Writing stories to pass values from one generation to the next

5 Ways to Avoid Breaking New Year’s Resolutions


(This post was originally posted around this time last year on my old blog, FamilyStoryLegacy. I also posted it to SlideShare, where it has been one of my top-performing presentations.)

5 Ways to Avoid Breaking New Year’s Resolutions

1. Don’t make them.

Simple theory, right?  If you don’t make any New Year’s resolutions, how can you break them?  Many people that I know or follow on social media are ascribing to this theory.  But what does this mode of thinking accomplish?  Zig Ziglar said, “If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time.”  So, if hitting nothing is a win for you, go ahead and set zero resolutions for the new year.  You will surely avoid breaking them.

Question: If someone doesn’t set goals and make resolutions, how does he/she measure success?

2. Don’t write them down.

Something about a good intention changes when pen meets paper.  A goal written down (or typed) becomes a mirror for the person behind the good intention.  It adds a level of accountability.  My friend Jacob uses the term rollover days (likened to rollover cell phone minutes) to describe days that don’t result in movement toward our goals.  Writing goals and placing them in prominent places helps us to avoid breaking New Year’s resolutions and to avoid rollover days.

Question: What do you think would change if you wrote down your goals and placed them where you would see them every day?

3. Don’t say them out loud.

Similar to #2, saying resolutions out loud to another person is an additional layer of accountability.  If someone else knows what we are trying to accomplish, he might just ask us about it at some point: “Hey, how’s that __________ going?”  And that’s the very reason most people will avoid this step.  However, the root word of resolution is resolve: “to come to a definite or earnest decision about; determine (to do something).”  If our resolutions can’t even stand up to telling them to someone else, they seem a bit short on resolve.

Question: What could you possibly gain by saying your resolutions out loud to another person whom you can trust?

4. Don’t be bullied into making resolutions because the calendar suggests it.

I have seen a number of people who are rebelling against a perceived pressure by the calendar to set New Year’s resolutions.  I completely agree that the beginning of a new year is not the only time to set goals and resolutions.  However, if the best way to avoid breaking New Year’s resolutions is not to make them, then this seems a more convoluted way of not making them at all.  So if not at New Year’s, then when?

Question: When are the times during a typical year when you would most naturally set goals and make resolutions?

5. Don’t risk failure.

That’s really what the avoidance of breaking New Year’s resolutions is all about, isn’t it?  The avoidance of failure?  I think I can accurately say that none of us want to fail.  But have we really come to a place in our culture where we are just content not to fail.

If you are still reading this post at this point, I don’t think you have.  Take a risk.  Alfred Lord Tennyson said, “‘Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.”  There’s a transferable principle there: “‘Tis better to have tried and failed than never to have tried at all.”

So take a chance, set a goal and some resolutions to help you reach it, write them down, tell somebody, and start moving in that direction.  Succeed or fail, you will have passed all the others stuck in neutral simply by making an effort.  And who knows, you just might keep your resolutions and change your life!

Question: What goal do you have in mind that you are afraid to say out loud?

Check out yesterday’s post, “Why I Still Make New Year’s Resolutions.” I’ll be back tomorrow with my 2015 resolutions.


About Al Ainsworth

Al Ainsworth is a values storyteller. He works with individuals, businesses, churches, and other organizations to pass along their values through the stories they tell…and re-tell.

Al is the author of Lines in the Gravel, Stories from the Roller Coaster (of a Faith Life), and the Coach Dave series. Subscribe to his email list for more values storying.

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