What My Mother Taught Me About New Year’s Resolutions

Have you stopped making New Year’s resolutions because you know they’re doomed to fail?   Don’t feel bad.  You’re not alone. In fact, a whopping 88% of us give up on their resolutions within the first few weeks of the New Year.   If one of your resolutions is to lose weight, it may it start with that first chocolate chip cookie, or the first day we decide to skip the gym, whatever; but somehow when we start to feel we don’t have the willpower to succeed, we give up on the whole shebang.


Human beings are funny creatures.  We have this ‘I want it ALL and I want in NOW’ mentality, and despite the yeoman efforts we may make to succeed, at some point we crash and burn.  We set out lofty goals without thinking about a course of action. Maybe we set out goals high to leave ourselves a way out.  Maybe our resolutions are really wish lists.  Maybe we make vague resolutions because ‘that stuff doesn’t work anyway so why put the effort into it? Maybe we make resolutions we think other people would like to hear, but what would you like for yourself?


Like everything else in life, resolutions take planning.  We need to devise a way of actualizing them in order to succeed.  In other words, we need to formulate them in a way that makes it easier on our brains to handle. You see, our bodies may be willing, but our brains need a break.


Say for example, we’ve made resolutions to lose 30 pounds, eat healthier, give up smoking, maybe cut down on the booze.  We start off the New Year going great guns then all of a sudden it starts to fizzle. Well guess what?  It’s normal response. We’ve worked hard.  We’ve sacrificed.  We‘ve changed our habits and routines.  It  affects us both mentally and physically.  They’re all great goals, but the part of our brains that control willpower starts working on overload, gets stressed out, and just gives out, goes on strike and just doesn’t want to work anymore. And your willpower? Well those good intentioned resolutions go right down the drain.


My mother understood that.  She used to say , ‘Never bite off anything you can’t chew,’  and she was absolutely right.  To achieve our goals, our brains need to be fed in bite-sized chunks, which make  them more manageable and easier to digest. So, why not treat our resolutions as setting SMART goals:


  • Specific: don’t talk generalities.  If your resolution is to ‘live healthier,’ how do you intend to do that? Give up the chips next time you go to Safeway? Remember when we leave our goals vague, we also leave ourselves room to wiggle out of them.
  • Measurable: give yourself a time frame. By such and such a time, I will accomplish this much………
  • Attainable: Don’t shoot for the moon if you don’t stand a chance of getting there.
  • Realistic: Understand the difference between wishful thinking and what’s reasonable to expect. If you exceed your expectations, set your next goal higher.
  • Timely: Be honest. Don’t set your goals so far out that they become vague memories, and don’t expect them to happen the day after tomorrow. Set your timeframe with success in mind.


Here’s another little tip to keep you on the straight and narrow: an accountability partner can help!


I’ll be taking a brief hiatus for the holidays and will pick up again after the New Year. One of my resolutions for the New Year is to stay in touch, and to provide some insights to help each and every one of you achieve success.  I’m fortunate and grateful that you have touched my life.  My best wishes to all for a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.

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