No more New Year resolutions

Jan 17, 2023
New Year's resolutions are often fast abandoned, and this creative blogger has a useful solution to ensure there will be "no more broken promises nor guilt-ridden failures".  

New Year resolutions are like picking a petal off of a flower, one at a time as we verbalise, I will do it, will do it, not. The object of this old French game, more often played by women during courtship, is to try and re-affirm a pre-existing belief they are loved, or they behave as if it will happen. The last petal picked being the final outcome He loves me or he loves me not. I wonder how many young girls played this when they were young. I think I did, it seems so long ago, the last petal was probably a not.

If we are honest, no matter how much we try to convince ourselves, in reality, the probability of New Year’s resolutions being achieved is minimal. Every year we euphorically make resolutions as dawn breaks into a new year. It has been recorded that in Australia in 2022, over 70 per cent of men and women set at least one new year resolution.

Research says, that we all need to have objectives, things to strive for, and targets to achieve, and I fully support the concept. I appreciate that New Year resolutions work well for some, but not all. According to US Clinical Psychologist John Duffy PhD, “most of us have a natural bent toward self-improvement and even though the New Year is an arbitrary date, it gives us time and a goal date to prepare for the change, to fire up for the shifts we plan to make”.

But things happen. It was found that over 90 per cent of New Year resolutions will be abandoned within just a few months. I understand why. By the time February and the post-holiday routine kicks in, our hand-on-heart commitment begins to fall apart like an environmentally friendly plastic bag tucked away in a cupboard for too long.

So, a few years ago I changed my habits and decided why wait for a new year to begin resolutions that may not eventuate? Why not just do it now and set myself targets and objectives that are manageable throughout the year and reduce the pressure on myself? And that’s what I’ve been doing. I don’t have New Year resolutions, just resolutions or simply an ongoing list of tasks to achieve over a period of time.

How I go about it

I replaced my New Year resolutions, with my trusty MS Excel spreadsheet, which is an ongoing WIP (Work In Progress), and it works perfectly, no stress.

The secret is to write everything down and keep it simple. Format a written document whether it be a computer spreadsheet or simply a dedicated notebook with handwritten columns and headings. The great thing is you just keep adding to it.

My seven columns and headings include the ability to Sort the subject matter as necessary; Task/Topic, Subtopic, Task Description, Priority, Planned Completion Date, Comments & Progress and most importantly Status. The Status column has conditional formatting that changes colour depending on Yes, No or if a WIP.

For a handwritten document, I would retain the same headings and use colour highlighters for the Status. Unfortunately, you are unable to Sort the columns this way but it would still work.

Important factors to consider for success and no stress

I have needed to take into account the following factors as circumstances can change:

  • Be realistic about your objectives and consider your lifestyle.
  • Address the task when you are in the right head space, be mentally prepared particularly if a challenging objective.
  • If the task becomes a burden, then remove it.
  • Some larger tasks may need to be cut down into manageable small chunks.
  • Don’t feel guilty if you need to change your dates.
  • Priorities can change from High to Low.
  • To achieve a new goal, you may need to sacrifice another.
  • Don’t rush or nominate in haste.
  • Avoid short timelines when planning.
  • Conditional formatting works wonders on Status i.e. colour changes on progress.

Sample Spreadsheet

So, when a New Year begins I say to myself, “ahh I have my trusty spreadsheet”. No more broken promises nor guilt-ridden failures.

Happy New Year!

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