In Discussions, Discussions, For Beginners, Life, Money

Why people suck at keeping New Years Resolutions

It’s that time of year again!

Every year, someone tells me excitedly:

I am going to go to the gym/yoga/Pilates every day and lose 10 pounds a month, and get SO FIT you’ll see a 6-pack!

Or..

This year, I am TOTALLY going to get out of my $50,000 debt 100%, and live on beans and rice until I have $100,000 saved as my net worth.

…and inevitably at the end of February (even mid-January), they start dropping off the bandwagon like flies.

Why? Because of the following reasons:

1. THEIR GOALS ARE TOO BIG AND GRAND

Unrealistic, is another word people might use to describe those goals.

Going from a couch potato schlob to a 6-pack-toting Amazon (or Hercules) is unrealistic because you haven’t developed the habits or the discipline to get there.

2. THEY DON’T REALIZE HOW MUCH WORK IT TAKES

(A.K.A. People are inherently lazy… myself included!)

Going to the gym daily takes planning to have gym clothes ready, it takes motivation to not just pick up a meal for takeaway and head home to Netflix or your saved TV shows on Tivo.

…then if you make it to the gym after a long hard day of work that left you exhausted, you need to change into those clothes, get on a treadmill and burn your buns for an hour?


EVERY DAY?

Wow.

Even I am getting a sore behind thinking about the work it would take to reach that level of dedication.

3. THEY DON’T SEE THE LONG TERM CONSEQUENCES OF SUCH DECISIONS

Deciding at the start of the month that you will eat beans and rice to clear that debt, live on pennies and basically do “what it takes” to become rich, is something you can only really believe in at the start of each month.

How do I know this?

Because I DO IT ALL THE TIME.

I tell myself every month that I won’t spend, I’ll be good with my money and something always comes up. Luckily, I have a healthy net worth cushion to indulge myself with (not for long at the rate I’m going !!) but it is something I know all to well.

The long-term consequences of committing to go to the gym daily, or to live on peanuts each month is something that is not sustainable because as I mentioned in reason #1, the habits and the discipline has not been developed enough to get to that point easily.

It’s like deciding to climb a mountain when you get winded walking up a steep hill.

HOW NOT TO SUCK AT KEEPING A NEW YEARS RESOLUTION

  1. Don’t make big, grand goals that are clearly unrealistic (this reach for the moon to land among the stars crap doesn’t work)
  2. Stick to ONE resolution, and don’t make 50,000 promises, you will just feel guilty when you fail
  3. Understand it takes a lot of work and mentally prepare for it
  4. Plan for it and realistically look at your schedule or budget and ask yourself how you can make something change and happen
  5. Start with a small commitment (once a week), then ramp up as the year goes on to increase the pressure (going up to 3 times a week)
  6. Tell someone to keep yourself accountable to this realistic goal

As for myself, I personally don’t make New Years Resolutions. I always end up forgetting about them.


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Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

I got out of $60,000 of debt in 18 months using TheBudgetingTool.com. Since then, I have worked 50% of my career (taking 1-2 year breaks), and quadrupled my income within 2 years of graduating, going from $65K to $260K (savings rate = 85%). I could retire today if I wanted, but love my work-life balance as a freelancing consultant in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math). I also post daily on Instagram @saverspender.

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20 Comments

  1. David

    I guess you make good points. Although I do not completely agree, there are some elements that I do agree with. I do agree that it takes effort to achieve a goal. But, I do not see the long term consequences.
    Can you explain it a little more?

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      I am not sure what you are asking me. Your comment is so vague it could apply to any post. What is it that you want to learn more about?

      Reply
  2. Alicia @ Financial Diffraction

    I made a bunch of steps (aka goals) but they really all go towards the same thing with milestones along the way.

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      As long as it works for you!

      For me, I just end up not doing it if I can’t make it. I’m too lazy for a resolution.. if I wanted to really change, I’d have done it before.

      Reply
  3. Charles@gettingarichlife

    Absolutely correct when people make unrealistic goals. Making a drastic change in your lifestyle never works, incremental steps work. My 2014 weight goal is playing defense, I want to fit my current pants and not go up another waste size. Happy new year!

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      Mine is just meeting my baby and trying not to be an awful parent. 🙂

      Reply
  4. Andrew@LivingRIchCheaply

    I think #1 is a biggie…there’s no point making grand plans when the likelihood of following through is low. I don’t really like making New Year’s resolutions either…if there is something I want to change or goals I want to achieve, why wait until New Year’s to start on it?

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      Oh good point. I guess it’s the appeal of a New Year that excites folks.

      Reply
  5. Simply Save

    I’ve nominated you for the Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award! Happy New Year! http://simplysavemn.com/2013/12/30/sisterhood-of-the-world-bloggers-award/

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      How very kind of you, thank you!

      Reply
  6. Ksenija

    I also hate these fake resolutions and never make them. For me, every day is a new chance and all these people who are waiting for the next Monday, next month, New Year, will never actually change anything because deep down, they really do not want to.
    For me, it would be utterly unrealistic to dream to be able to pay off my student loan in one year. Instead of that, I gave myself the task to reevaluate my weekly expenses to reflect my actual needs instead of desires. By doing that, I realized that I will be able to accumulate enough money to pay my tuition fee for 2014/15 in cash, bu also also start building no matter how small it looks now, the fund for eventual paying off.

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      You’re right — people make resolutions because they think it’s going to motivate them to be better in the new year, but I never see it pan out. VERY RARELY do people achieve what they set out to do.

      Reply
  7. A
    AdinaJ

    I hate New Year’s resolutions too. Don’t make them. If there’s something I know I need to do, I generally get my butt in gear to do it, resolution or no. But this year, I did decide to commit to doing a 365 project on Instagram. It seems like it would be a great creative outlet, although a friend warned me that after the first, say 100 days, it becomes a lot tougher than it seems.

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      Mine is so guaranteed, it’s sad — I am planning on meeting my new baby and trying not to screw up as a parent.

      DONE.

      Reply
  8. M
    Michelle

    I’ve learned that I have to plan out my goals step by step, otherwise I fail miserably. I also use the SMART goal method so that I have something measurable at the end.
    I never make too many resolutions either otherwise I end up forgetting them as well…probably because I forget all the step in between. LOL!

    Reply
  9. jane savers @ solving the money puzzle

    I make big goals and I fail at them in the first month.

    I have some financial goals but I have clear steps to achieve them and I have set personal goals that are doable and specific such as exercise 3 times a week. I need to get healthy or I won’t be able to stand at work all day. I will limit junk food to one meal per week and not every day the way I have been.

    I am a fan of big dreams and goals because that is how big things happen.

    Reply
  10. maria@moneyprinciple

    I find New Year’s resolutions an interesting one. You may be right about some of the problems with those but sometimes big, seemingly impossible goals is what works for me. The other day I found my New Year’s resolutions from four years ago; there were two: a) to turn our financial fortunes around and b) to finish an academic book. Looks completely wrong, yes? I did the first one; paid off $160,000 in three years (most people though this impossible and my (former) financial advisor laughed when I told him what I’ll do). The second one? Well, I lost interest.

    My point is, that with me what seems to be most important is whether I’ve managed to develop a single minded passion for something. After that I just wait for someone to tell me it’s impossible 🙂 so I can go and do it.

    Reply
  11. Erin @ Red Debted Stepchild

    I set three goals this year (going up on my blog in a few hours!) and I tried to make goals to achieve more than I did in 2013, while still being realistic. It is fun to make grandiose resolutions, but the novelty wears off by the end of January.

    Reply
  12. n
    neurosciency

    thank you for this post. setting realistic goals is SO important. i read this thing once about how goals need to be SMART – specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. i need to keep reminding myself of that (and especially #2 and #3 in this post) when i think of all of the things i want to do in 2014.

    Reply
  13. Michelle

    I was looking at my 2013 resolutions, and I knocked off only 2 out of 10… yup unrealistic… dreamt too big.

    However this year… My big resolution is to pay off my school debt! I’m half way there already, and it will be done in 6 months. 😀 Not much of a resolution because I was going to do it new years or not. lol.

    Reply

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