8 Surefire Ways To Sabotage Your New Year’s Resolutions (And How To Avoid Them)

It happens every year: January rolls around; we wake from our end-of-year-induced food coma and vow to become a whole new person just like that. Okay, that’s an exaggeration, but there are entire industries that survive on people jumping on the self-improvement bandwagon every New Year’s Day. While resolutions can be positive and affirming, you can end up doing yourself even more damage by locking yourself into a perpetual motion engine of failure. Here are the most common ways people sabotage their New Year’s resolutions, and how to avoid them.

Trying to “fix” everything at once

A great way to put yourself right into the dumpster in the second week of January? Change everything about yourself you hate all at the same time. While it’s tempting to think it would be easier to do a clean slate approach, there’s one big flaw in this theory: if you slip in one part of your big change, it’s more likely that the others will fall right along with it. Pick the most important ones — to you — and focus on those. You can always add more to your to-do list later.

Keeping it a secret

Nothing quite says late January like telling all your friends and family about your lofty resolution goals, then having a setback, and then having to face their questions and disappointment. So, it’s tempting to try and keep it all to yourself until you’ve made progress. But by doing that you’re sabotaging yourself — by removing a valuable asset, a support system. Sharing ups and downs of your progress with others doing the same thing can be very encouraging.

Demanding perfection

So you’re committed to doing a thing and the thing will be done and then you have an off day and it’s the end of the world, may as well give up and start again next year, right? Not this year, friend. Missing a day at the gym is not fatal, but you have to remember to go again next time. Eating that break room cake may have tanked your calorie count for the day, but you get a fresh start tomorrow. Just remember though, forgiveness is not permission.

Doing it all by yourself

It doesn’t count if someone helps you, right? Wrong. Making life adjustments and improvements is not a single player game. It’s a team effort. You already have your support group/cheerleading section set up earlier, why not let yourself have a coaching staff too? This can be your doctor, or a psychologist, or a counselor: someone who has helped others with what you’re doing. Maybe you don’t need this kind of help in your journey, but if you do need it, don’t be afraid to ask for it.

Being serious

Resolutions are all about deprivation, right? Because treating yourself is what got you into this mess in the first place. Too much food, too much sitting around, and too much time on the computer — now that you’re going to change things, you need to be fully focused on having no fun whatsoever. Congratulations, you’ve just broken your resolutions in record time. Allow yourself to have treats and rewards for good behavior, just make sure the treats don’t undo the behavior.

Watching the clock

Nothing helps people get motivated like a deadline, right? More gets accomplished in the last minute than in all the other minutes before. So, start that countdown and meet your goal… and if you miss it, that’s okay, because you’re allowed to adjust your goals as you go. Resolutions are not written in stone on January 1. Fine-tune your behavior as you go, and let the clock watch itself.

Not watching the appointment calendar

On the other hand, the new year stretches out like a vast wasteland for you to fill it with improvements. There’s plenty of time for all that, and you’ll get to it… eventually. That’s probably not the way you want to go about it. Treat your workout time like a doctor’s appointment, schedule it and keep it. Write things down. Don’t try to keep it all in your brain, put it in writing and reread it when necessary. A little structure is a pretty good thing.

Giving up

What were you thinking, trying to implement so drastic a change in your life like that? It’s so much work, and so hard, and there are other things that need doing first (things that are not about improving yourself) — that is probably the easiest and quickest end to resolutions. You know you’re going to mope about giving up all year, and then resolve again next year to do something, anything… But this year is different. This year your most important resolution is to give up giving up, and you’ve already succeeded. Congratulations!