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Let’s Change the Bad Rap of New Year’s Resolutions

By Linda Ward December 26, 2023 Mindset

Starting the new year is a perfect time to reevaluate, have a fresh look at your life, and begin a few new ways. Some people feel the urge to start things over on their birthday, or the beginning of a new year of marriage. At work, the urge is triggered by end-of-year evaluations’ time or simply on Mondays, the beginning of the work week. It just feels right to hit the ‘refresh’ button at these turning points.

New Year’s Resolutions Have a Bad Rap

Was this you last year? On New Year’s Eve, you became inspired to start some things over. You gave it some thought, you decided what you wanted to do, and you got started on a new goal. By the end of the month, you forgot all about it. When you did think of the Resolution, you had a bunch of guilt that made you stop going toward it altogether.

Forbes has done research to conclude that about 80% of people who make New Year’s resolutions will abandon them by the second Friday of January. This is so incredibly predictable that there’s a name and date for this. It’s called Quitters’ Day. This year, January 12, 2024, is Quitters’ Day.

Don’t Stop Before You Start

Does this discourage us from starting? New Year’s resolutions have such a bad rap that lots of people just don’t do them now. I don’t know about you, but being called a quitter by the media or even by myself is something I want to avoid. Therefore, no resolutions!

But I want to gently remind you that if you don’t attempt a change, you won’t change. We know that many goals and results are extremely hard to accomplish the first time around. Yea, it’s true you might fail at it the first time.

Do you know anyone who has attempted to quit smoking cigarettes? Many surveys suggest that smokers try to quit an average of six times before succeeding. I must confess I’ve been a real quitter on Quitters’ Day in the past. It’s oddly comforting that other people also have trouble carrying out well-meaning life-changing goals. I’m not alone!

Ok, we know there needs to be a change, or it wouldn’t pop into our head that now is a great time to shake it up. Don’t let the research on failed resolutions keep you from beginning a change you know you need in your life. Please don’t stop before you start.

My Totally Unrealistic Goal

My personal example of setting a colossal unattainable goal was to become fluent in Italian in one year. After setting this goal and working at a pace I could manage all year, I’ve fallen so short of being fluent, that it makes me laugh out loud!

I haven’t given up on the result of becoming conversationally fluent, but now I have a more realistic timeline. I’ve learned that to reach fluency, I’ll need to dedicate at least 2-3 years to the language, with consistent daily or weekly study. I share this to show that results won’t happen if our goals are unattainable! We will reach “Quitters’ Day” sooner or later.

Goal or Result? Which Is It?

In this article, I will refer to those large overall goals that we hope to attain as the result. These goals are big, vague, and what we really want in the long run. My personal example of a result is becoming fluent in Italian. As you continue reading, I refer to the goal as the baby steps and the result is the big overall goal.

I encourage you to look at goals differently.

  • Result: fluency in Italian. Goal: I will commit to devoting a half hour of study to Italian 5 days a week.
  • Result: a toned and fit body. Goal: I will do 10 minutes of stretching then 10 minutes on the treadmill 3 days a week.
  • Result: a calmer mind. Goal: I will meditate for 5 minutes before bed.

The result of doing these baby step goals is the fluency, the more fit body, the calmer mind. To fine tune your goals into small steps or baby goals makes change attainable. One reason our resolutions have failed is that we look at the end result as the goal.

I’ve failed at being fluent in Italian in the past year. However, I’m still practicing. I learned to give the result time. My new realistic goal is 30 minutes, 5 days a week practicing the language. I look forward to the Italian language fluency as I take the daily steps to meet my goals.

Reevaluate Your Goal

Did you stop trying to reach your goal due to making it unattainable? Start again. Face the failure and figure out how to make it realistic. If you want to lose 50 lbs., that’s your result of the smaller goals of exercise, healthy eating, getting more sleep. Those small goals will change your lifestyle and give you the result you hope for. That picture in your head of you, 50 pounds lighter, is the result. It will happen with small attainable goals. So set those goals!

Start Again

If you stopped the process of attaining the result you want because you didn’t set small accomplishable goals, start over. Break it down. Be kind to yourself. Don’t stop before you start. If you quit by “Quitters’ Day,” then pick it back up and try again. Be just like those smokers who started their goal over and over and now don’t touch the stuff. They are incredibly strong people, and I commend them! Let’s be strong and courageous – and start again.

Suggestions to Jump Start Your Resolution

Find a Buddy to Confide in and Be Accountable to

You know a buddy is going to ask you about your resolution, and this could be enough for you to keep going. For me, it was paying for an Italian tutor and having Zoom meetings together. She can tell when I haven’t studied, so it motivates me to put in the time. For you this could be a life coach, or a good friend who truthfully checks in on your progress.

Give Yourself Some Incentives

What makes you want to do it? Is the intended result for your health? For your family? For financial security, or a purchase? In my case, I have new Italian friends that I want to respectfully speak with in their native language. My long-term result of fluency is because I care about them. Also, I’m motivated to keep my aging brain sharp.

If getting skinnier to fit into your old clothes is your result, then try them on now and then. Keep going until they fit well. When your result is that you finally get to wear them again, tell yourself you will buy a small clothing item that fits beautifully. If getting a certain amount in your savings account is the result you want, then when you hit certain deposit marks, allow something fun for yourself.

Some People Are Motivated by a Penalty

Technology has brought us websites like and that invite you to put money on the line that you’ll have to forfeit to a charity if you don’t achieve a stated goal. states that it utilizes the psychological power of loss aversion and accountability to drive behavior change. Beeminder is similar in that it provides reminders with a sting! That sting is loss of money.

I’m not ready for that, but some of you might be!

I encourage you to set some attainable New Year’s resolutions this year. You have the courage and strength to do this in the right way to stop giving resolutions a bad rap.

Let’s Have a Conversation:

Have you stopped making New Year’s resolutions due to the bad rap quitters have given it? What’s your resolution? Are you sure it’s your goal or is it your result? Can you share a time you broke it down to attainable goals and finally reached a well-deserved goal? Let’s have a conversation about failed or attained resolutions.

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Peggy Blair

Every year, I make an ambitious list of about 12 or 13 goals; then at the end of the year, I check off the ones I was faithful to. This year is typical in that I stuck to 8 out of 13, or more than half, so I like to think that puts me in the 20% who don’t give up after one or two weeks. I keep these lists in my journal, so if I see the same goal popping up year after year and not getting accomplished, then I know I have to rethink whether the goal has to be either modified or abandoned. I usually make them goals rather than results, as the author of this fine article advised. For example, one goal was to eat cholesterol at only one meal a day, which was surprisingly easy for me now that I am a widow, but eating red meat no more than once a week was a lot harder. Listening to music each day was easy once I got Spotify, as was wearing sunblock, but not saying the word “worry” was more difficult as I am a 3rd generation worry-wart!

Linda Ward

Congrats to you! You have found a way to accomplish more goals than most by the end of a year. Keep it up. : }


The thing about learning Italian resonated with me. After moving to Switzerland I spent 3 years taking German classes twice a week, a language I have found very confusing and difficult to say the least. I decided to take 6 months out as I was making no real progression.

Unfortunately the pandemic came along during this period and classes were cancelled. They eventually went online which didn’t suit me. Now most of what I managed to retain has gone out of the window. I find I can read German but my spoken German is very, very basic.

Linda Ward

I think German is confusing too! I like that you retained a basic understanding of the language even though classes were cancelled. So many programs are on line! It would be wonderful to find someone in your community to meet at the library or somewhere close to speak German once in a while. Thanks for sharing.


Great article. I have spent the last 5 years on a major healing journey. After the previous decade of a huge amount of stress, trauma & abuse I was completely broken. I was left with only 2 choices…end it all or fight back. Somewhere in me a switch went off and I chose to fight back…and fight I did. At the beginning I was so overwhelmed with all the damage and all that needed repair. I took on board that the only change I could make was change in my…myself…I was the only place I could control change in. So I did (please don’t think it was easy, it was very, very hard…but I felt that if the only change I could make was in/within myself then this I could control…and that felt powerful). I broke my change into 6 areas – Emotional; Mental; Spiritual; Financial; Relational; Physical… I needed healing in all areas but I spent one year with one of these being that years focus. Of course I had to do some work on all areas as I went but it made sense to me that to fix (really fix) one area would be so empowering to and it would give a good solid foundation on which to repair and rebuild the other areas. I am a great believer in New Years resolutions…for me its the perfect time to start something new and it gave me a whole year to get it sorted. I did my healing in the order I have written them and this coming year (2024) I am fixing/healing my body with good nutrition, healthy movement, a renewed wardrobe & quality shoes (the best I can afford…no undue pressure). I may even get myself some eyebrow tattooing – :) (as I have progressed into my 60’s my eyebrows have gone white and thin)
So if anyone is wanting to go the path of a new year resolution please do it…the analogy of the smoker attempting many times before success is something I have leant on many times…every attempt at getting myself well and healthy meant I was one step closer to finding the exit to this maze I was in. This is my last year of a major change and I am approaching it with excitement and a sense that “I got this” … I now know I can make the changes I need to be the best I can be.

Linda Ward

Dear Donna,
I caught your excitement as I read your response. How wonderful that you dug deep to find the guts to move forward in life. You are a great example for us, and an encouragement to keep going on the one area of our life that we can control…ourself.

Chris Wildesen

I am basically an optimist. I have tried and failed at so many things, but I have also succeeded in many things…granted, they may not be huge achievements in the eyes of many, but they mean a lot to me. I went back to school and became an RN when I was 50 and loved every minute of it (well, almost). One of the best things I ever did was raise 3 children who are responsible, hardworking, well-liked adults and great parents. I have been married to my husband for almost 57 years and never want to be with anyone else. We have had ups and downs but we worked through them all and are closer than ever. My relationship with God is what makes everything worth while. I know religion isn’t always a popular subject, but for me it is the basis of everything good in my life. So yes…I will probably
make resolutions and have dreams for a better “me”. This year I want to focus on “enough” and learning to be content with what I have. I truly have everything I need and so much more. One more thing…I love “Sixty and Me”…my favorite YouTube channel. You all challenge me and make me think and I thank you for that. Margaret, may each of you be blessed now and always. Thank you for being one of my many blessings!

Linda Ward

Chris, your optimistic view on “ok there’s been failures, but there’s been successes too,” is what we all need to keep going. Keeping your eyes on what’s going right, not only encourages us but gives us the courage we need to move forward!

The Author

Linda Ward is a Writer and Life Coach living in Minnesota. She specializes in helping mature women find everyday happiness and a satisfying life. She zeroes in on life after divorce, retirement transitions, and finding courage no matter what the circumstances. Her inspiring new eBook is called, Crazy Simple Steps to Feeling Happier. Linda’s Professional background is Social Work and Counseling.

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