Four New Years' Resolutions You Should Never Make

family celebrating new years together

The New Year is always a great opportunity for reflection. We consider where we are and where we’d like to be. And we use the blank slate of the coming new year to make promises to ourselves.

“Next year I’m going to…”

New Years’ resolutions are a nice way to kickstart our goals for the year ahead, but they can also be something of a burden. Bad or poorly thought out resolutions have a tendency to stick around all year long, never being realized, but surviving as a reminder of this great thing we wanted to do but never did. Bad resolutions have a way of stifling good goals.

If you’re planning on making some New Years’ resolutions, here are four kinds of resolutions you should resolve to avoid.

Overly Vague Resolutions

Often, a resolution originates as a simple idea. You want to improve...something. And that’s not a bad idea. This particular something could really use some improving!

As a goal, though, this kind of resolution is a little too unformed. If you want to lose weight, for example, making a resolution to lose weight is a good start, but how much weight? And by when?

Vague resolutions are easy to put off, but they also make it difficult to know when you've succeeded. Without a clear set of parameters, it's really easy to continually move the goalposts. 

When making resolutions, be sure to give yourself clearly defined objectives so you'll know whether or not you're actually achieved what you set out to achieve. Whenever possible use concrete numbers and dates so you'll be able to track your progress and objectively say whether or not you succeeded.

Resolutions that Defy Reality

When creating resolutions, there’s always going to be a temptation to “go big.” And big goals aren’t necessarily bad, but they can be an obstacle if they’re not even remotely plausible.

If you resolve to buy your first house next year, for example, but don’t have any money saved or particularly good credit or any of the other foundational elements necessary to purchase a house, then you’re going to be very hard pressed to make that resolution come true.

Big dreams are good, but large, complex dreams can often be broken up into smaller goals that lead you to the big goal. So when setting your resolutions, make sure they’re actually achievable, and if they’re too big to accomplish in a single year, consider breaking them down into smaller goals for the year ahead.

Resolutions You Only Think You Want

One sort of resolution that never seems to reach the finish line is the resolution that your heart was never into to begin with. Sometimes we resolve to make changes because we think we should, but not because we actually want to. If there’s no passion behind your resolution you’ll always find a reason to not do the work.

Before you make a resolution, make sure it’s reflective of a real change that you want to see in your life. That may require a little late year soul searching, but it's absolutely essential. Anything less and there’s a very good chance it will stay on your To Do list all year long.

Resolutions without a Plan

Lastly, many a great resolution has been undone over the years because the resolver has made a single, fatal mistake – they forgot to ask, “How am I going to do this?”

Every goal needs a roadmap. Resolving to make a change, no matter how big or how small, requires that you create some sort of plan. If you want to lose weight, what changes will you make to your diet and lifestyle? If you want to save up for a down payment on a house, where will that money come from?

The plan should come before the goal. Determine what you'll be doing in the year ahead, and then set benchmarks around your plan of attack.  

You don’t have to have all of the details, but you do need to know enough to get started. Knowing how to get where you want to go is the difference between wishing for change and making change happen.

If repaying debt is high on your resolution list for next year, make an appointment to speak with a certified nonprofit debt counselor ASAP. They can give you the unbiased advice and support you need to make real progress.

Tagged in Goal setting, Holidays

Jesse Campbell is the Content Manager at MMI, focused on creating and delivering valuable educational materials that help families through everyday and extraordinary financial challenges.

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