Why I never write New Year's resolutions
December 24, 2022
Goals are great. New Year’s resolutions are not. Here’s why they don’t work for me and what I do instead.
New Year’s resolutions do not encourage long-term change
One of my core values is to always think long-term. New Year’s resolutions tend to not follow this philosophy for many reasons. Here are just a few:
- They are outcome focused. For instance, “lose 25 pounds” is an outcome. This is not a habit. It will not create sustainable change. Once you lose the weight, what now? Go back to not exercising, getting poor sleep, and eating a garbage diet?
- They are easy to ‘fail”. For instance, “go to the gym twice a week” is very easy to fail. Get sick for a week and suddenly you’ve failed your resolution—and there’s no way to recover. This does not focus on long-term change, only short-term action.
- They require discipline. Anytime you force yourself to do something you don’t want to do, you set yourself up for failure. You then need to use discipline to overcome your natural tendencies. This is not sustainable. And when you think about the resolution long-term, you realize you’re asking yourself to do something you don’t want to do for the rest of your life. Is that really the kind of life you want to live?
Long-term change requires—well—change
I’ve found that to create long-term change, you actually need to change as a person. This requires changing your values because your values determine your actions.
So if you want to have long-term change, you must change your values, which will change your actions, which will change your habits, which will change your life.
So how do you change your values? With a theme for each year.
Every year has a theme
Every year, I give myself a theme for the year. For instance, 2022 was my “year of health.” Then throughout the year, whenever you have a decision to make, just ask yourself, “does this align with my theme for the year?”
So for me in 2022, I asked myself, “which decision is the healthier choice?” That doesn’t mean I always made healthy choices. For instance, sometimes the choice was “which desert should I eat?” instead of “should I eat desert?” But (like I themes in previous years) I’ve found that I’ve made healthier choices overall. More importantly, I value health a lot more now at the end of the year than I did at the beginning of the year.
For instance, here are just some things that changed for me in 2022:
- Lost 25 pounds of weight.
- Can lift on average 2.5–3 times more.
- Going to the gym about twice a week.
- Exercise spontaneously throughout each week.
- Sleep on average 8 hours per night.
- Regularly wake up at 5:45am naturally.
- Flossing more regularly.
But more importantly to me, I didn’t strive to make any of these changes. It doesn’t feel like I’ve sacrificed anything. Rather, I’ve just naturally made these changes because I value health more now than I did at the beginning of the year.
Credit where credit’s due
I’ve been using themes for the past three years (2020, 2021, and 2022). However, this is not my idea. I originally got it from the following CGP Grey video:
What’s my theme for 2023?
Stay tuned. I hope to write it up in a few days. You’ll never guess what it is, though.
Note: This is not a scientifically-rigorous or well-researched post. This is just my personal opinion based on my subjective experience. What works for me may not work for you.