New Year’s resolutions: Making, keeping and breaking them

More than two weeks have passed since we bade farewell to 2018 and ushered in the new year. Many of us took time to reflect on the past year and set goals for the year ahead.

These goals may be personal in nature. They could be New Year’s resolutions where you resolve to lose the weight gained during the festive season. Or it could be a commitment to your loved ones to spend more quality time with them.

You could have set new year goals at the workplace too. It could be a larger portfolio of responsibilities or certain sales targets that you and your supervisor have agreed on.

I don’t have hard data, but my empirical observation leads me to believe that people are generally more optimistic and motivated in January than during other times of the year. My friends that work in Human Resources tell me work absenteeism levels (read: casual sick leave) are usually the lowest in the first two weeks of the year.

Others would gush about their dream vacation for 2019 or a bad habit they intend to kick. The narcissistic ones would share their gym sessions and Fitbit-tracked jogging routes on social media, something they didn’t do in ages. It’s perhaps no coincidence that gyms are usually packed in month of January.

It’s mid-January now, and life for most of us has returned to normalcy. The festive decorations are back in the storeroom, and people are back at work. It is also the time when some of us settle back into our old ways. Indeed, many studies have shown that the vast majority fail to stick to our New Year’s resolutions even as early as mid-January.

My two cents on why most of us fail to stick to our New Year’s resolutions and why we continue to make the same failed resolutions year after year:

First, some of our resolutions are vaguely defined. Examples would include “I want to lose weight this year” or “I want to make more money this year”, where there are no specific targets or goals. If your resolutions do not quantify how much weight you intend to lose this year, or how much more money you intend to make this year, there is no way of knowing if you have succeeded or failed in those resolutions.

This brings me to my second point, in which people do not set clear targets or goals for fear of failure. No one likes to fail, or to set oneself up for failure by setting unrealistic targets. For some of us, that fear may be overwhelming and crippling. Think of the times you were reluctant to try something new for fear of failure, or the times you were a perfectionist for tasks you are good at. Or it could be a task in which you deliberately under-delivered for fear of failure after having ‘tried your best’.

Third, many of us do not formulate action plans for our resolutions. Most resolutions cannot be achieved overnight and do require some level of consistency and commitment over an extended period – an example would be the individual who wants a better physique by gaining muscle mass and lower body fat percentage levels. An action plan provides clarity on what the milestones, what resources are required, and what the specific tasks may be. In the example above, an action plan would include a gym schedule with specific workout routines. And no, buying gym wear and the gym membership are not part of the action plan per se.

We continue to make the same failed resolutions year after year because there are no costs involved in making them, and there are no consequences for breaking them. There’s always next year, isn’t it?

At Helix PR, we know that our clients – mainly organisations from the maritime and (re)insurance industry – are serious about the goals they set and the expectations from their stakeholders in that regard. That is why Helix PR works closely with our clients to co-create realistic and clearly-defined communication goals, along with detailed action plans at the strategic, operational and tactical levels.

What are your New Year resolutions for 2019?



Sign up for newsletter