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Why New Year’s Resolutions Don’t Work (Part 1 of 2)

If you’re a regular at a gym you know that all the equipment is taken from January 1 through mid-February as everyone is working on their new commitment to get healthy. But by the end of February, the gym is back to normal.

Only 8% of people who make NY resolutions actually accomplish them. Why do we so often fail, despite swearing up and down that this is the year we’ll persevere?

  • You’re fixing something that’s “wrong” with you.
    Any action you take based on feeling bad will be temporary. Saying “I’m fat” may compel you to action today, but if you don’t see results over time, you’ll progress from “I’m fat” to “I’m lazy” and “I’m incompetent.”There’s nothing wrong with you. What’s true: your actions haven’t aligned with your vision. Instead of choosing to “lose weight,” choose to “be healthy” and follow up with the actions of a healthy person.
  • You put too much stake in being disciplined.
    If I’ve heard it once I’ve heard it a thousand times: when I ask people why they haven’t achieved their goals they say “I’m not disciplined” or “I’m just lazy.” They go on to wax poetic about how much better their lives would be if they could have more willpower. (Another form of “there’s something wrong with me.”)Discipline is a RESULT of success, not the cause. When people believe that having discipline is a vital component of achieving every goal, they end up feeling inadequate. (You can read more about my viewpoint about laziness in this free guide http://lizwolfecoaching.com/resources/breaking-procastination/ about procrastination.) Don’t set up a barrier to success, as in, “I have to be disciplined to be healthy.” Instead, go straight to purposeful action.
  • You’re missing the big picture.
    For the first couple of years after my daughter started school, the mornings in our house invariably ended with a meltdown or argument. I kept hoping that if I got up earlier or prepared better the night before, mornings would go more smoothly. Nothing seemed to help. Our relationship was souring.I decided to focus on my real goal: stress-free, easy mornings we enjoyed together. I started by controlling my own reactions when she had her meltdowns. This allowed me to be patient, loving, and supportive – precisely what we both needed to create those stress-free mornings. My commitment to our relationship and enjoying that time together created the shift.
  • You want instant gratification.
    If you expect results quickly and they don’t arrive, it’s easy to give up. Don’t discount small progress. It took my family over a year to get to smooth mornings, and we still have the occasional breakdown. When that happens I use it as a wakeup call to give our relationship more attention.
  • You don’t set yourself up to win.
    I get it. The sky is the limit and anything’s possible. But if you haven’t been to the gym in forever, it’s highly unlikely that you’re going to suddenly start going 5 x a week for an hour. Or if you have $25,000 in credit card debt, no savings, and no steady income stream, it’s dubious that you’ll pay that all off in a year and save $10,000.Time after time I’ve seen people strive for something way out of reach, and give up. The question I ask is, “What would be a win for you?” The answer might be “Take a walk at lunchtime three days a week” or “Get a job that I love and pay off $5,000 in debt.”

The success we dream of IS within reach, and you can create it in 2018. My next blog will reveal additional pitfalls and how to overcome them to create consistent, sustainable, breakthrough results all year long.

 Join me for “Goals vs. Intentions vs. Resolutions: Set Yourself Up for Success in 2018”, a “Bagels and Breakthroughs” networking and coaching event for entrepreneurs on January 31, 2018 in New York City.  

  • The top reasons why most New Year’s resolutions fail, and what to do about them
  • How systems – not goals – will ensure your success
  • Why the amount of time, money and resources you have has no impact on what you can accomplish

To register, click here.

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The Anti-New Year’s Resolutions: Systems, not Goals

Part 2 of a 2-part series (click here for part 1 to learn about why New Year’s resolutions don’t work.)

I love that freshly-washed feeling of the turn of a new year. It could just be the fact that I get more sleep in the 10 days between Christmas and New Year’s because the kids are off from school, but I seem to have more energy and impetus to clear away things I’ve been tolerating, and similar to many people take the opportunity to look ahead to what’s next.

For the past couple of years I’ve hosted a webinar entitled New Year’s Resolutions: Friend or Foe? (see below for details on this year’s webinar).  It’s designed to support people in taking action in the new year in a way that aligns with their vision.  Over the years, I’ve changed my perspective on how helpful resolutions can be.  I’ve had my own varying degrees of success, and have stopped setting so many “goals” and instead focus on intentions or themes for the year.  Last year’s theme was “relationship” and this year’s theme is emerging as “consistency.”

But what if you just plain want to get some stuff accomplished? Continue reading


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Why New Year’s Resolutions Don’t Work

Part 1 of a 2-part series.  Click here for part 2.

Around the beginning of the year people feel a renewed commitment towards their goals because it feels like a fresh start. We are encouraged to let go of the old and embrace the new by making New Year’s resolutions.  This is why if you’re a regular at a gym you know that there is never any equipment available from January 1 through mid-February – everyone is working on their new commitment to get healthy.  However, by the end of February the gym is back to normal, with the regulars making the rounds.

Studies show that only 8% of people who make New Year’s resolutions actually accomplish them, despite swearing up and down that this is the year that they will stick with it. What goes wrong? Here are some reasons why resolutions so often fail. Continue reading


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The Anti-New Year’s Resolution: Systems, not Goals.

I ended 2013 uncharacteristically grumpy. I felt on the brink of tears or anger for much of the last couple of weeks of the year, without really being able to identify why. I found it depressing to look back at the year, knowing I didn’t accomplish all I wanted to, finding small solace in the few milestones that I could recollect. I’m not quite sure where I think I should be by now, but my feeling of dissatisfaction lingered and made me an unpleasant person to be around. Continue reading


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Usually a New Year inspires us to make resolutions and usually those resolutions include actions we’re going to take to get us more of what we want in life.  However, this year, I decided I’m going to declare 2012 as the year of “letting go.”  Instead of working towards some goal, I’m going figuratively lean back, open my arms and let go of…

Worrying about things that are outside my circle of control.

The need to control.

Self-doubt and the need for approval. Continue reading