When New Year’s Resolutions Backfire

I’ve spent the last two nights tossing and turning, desperately trying to get to sleep (especially since having stayed up way past my normal bed time on the last day of 2015). My brain, it seems, has a billion things it must process, and chooses the hours between 11 pm and 3 am to do so. Amidst all the burning questions rapidly firing through my neurons (how did Benedict Cumberbatch get a name like that?) I find myself wondering what on earth could be causing such extreme information exchange at such an inopportune time, when suddenly, I realize, the curse of the New Year’s Resolution.

Every January, we are bombarded with ways to make THIS year the BEST EVER! Get organized! Plan every single moment for maximum productivity! Set better goals! Achieve them all! Be the most perfect person you’ve ever wanted, and solve all the worlds problems!! The pressure to perform to your highest capability is enough to make you want to crawl into a dark whole for the entirety of the year. So, I spent the last week of 2015 and the first week of 2016 brainstorming, writing down my goals, wishes, dreams, challenges, shopping list… all in order to get myself “ready” for a new year. Yet (despite feeling very well organized and prepared), I still spent two nights with my mind at ludicrous speed, processing any little thing that may be of use or important in this quest for the ultimate productivity experience. I thought, wasn’t the whole point of all this preparedness to lessen all this stress and anxiety? Why on earth do we do this to ourselves? Who is this voice in my head screaming at me?

My first step in drowning out the noise was to write down what I felt was truly important information that I would need in the morning (like this epiphany I’m sharing with you now). My next steps are as follows.

  • Take a few deep breaths.

  • Realize life isn’t about DOING as much as you possibly can, but enjoying what is happening today, this moment.

  • The memorable moments should outweigh the productive ones.

  • A schedule is helpful, but leave room to be spontaneous.

  • Don’t beat yourself up. We aren’t made to be perfect, to get it all right, to do it all.

  • If you live trying to do nothing but achieve goals, you’ll just feel like you’re never accomplishing anything because there will always be another one waiting. Instead, focus on 3 big things you want to do this year, and set up a system so that every day is a completion of actions that bring you closer to finishing something.

  • Celebrate your accomplishments for what they are.

  • Don’t quit. Every day is a fresh start. A setback doesn’t mean you failed.

  • It’s ok to give up the things that don’t build you up. Give up the things (or the people) who drag you down, and free yourself of negativity.

  • Try focusing on “we” instead of “me.” Instead of thinking about how to improve yourself all the time, look for ways to help someone else, spend time with people you love, fill your calendar with fun, and you’ll look back at your year with a lot of fond memories instead of stressed out to-do lists.

And for more tips, read this Guide to Dealing with Frustration & Disappointment in Yourself.


“What are you preparing? You’re always preparing! Just go!”