Why New Year's Resolutions are a Trap

Why I think New Year's’ resolutions aren’t worth worrying about, and what I’m doing instead. I'll also share my art goals for the year 2018.

The Deadly Pitfall of the New Year’s Resolution

The new year is often treated as a chance for a new start. The problem, though, is that many people fall into the trap of making a new year’s resolution, setting big, grandiose goals  for the coming year.

Are you reading this a month into the new year? If you did set a new year's resolution have you stuck with it? Most regular gym goers know that the gym is often crowded in January and returns back to normal crowd levels into February. Why is that? It's likely that people aren't sticking to their fitness new year's resolutions.

Why is this a problem? Often new year’s resolutions tends to be far-reaching and involve the entire year. For example: “I’m going to work out three times a week, every week.” Now, that’s a great idea in theory, but to meet this expectation, you have to do something consistently for an entire year, and that’s more than a little daunting and many people can't stick with it. In general, New year’s resolutions are usually very big, long-term goals, and that’s why they usually end up being ignored, forgotten about, or lamented as failures .

This isn't healthy for our mindset because inevitably we'll end up losing confidence  one month into the new year. And a loss of confidence can completely stop us from progressing at all. But there's a better way.

Reach for the Stars...but Build a Ladder Rung Each Day to Get There

Instead of setting a new year's resolution, I try to set smaller, shorter term goals . Last year, I wanted to start my own business. But instead of setting a new year’s resolution to have a new business by the end of the year with no direction beyond that, I thought a little smaller to begin with. Big goals are great, and it’s good to have them to reach for, but you have to set smaller goals along the way, to pave the path to the big ones.

I said to myself that I would try to work on a daily routine of getting up early to work on building my business for two months. After starting that routine, I had a new goal to come up with a new product concept within a month. After completing those steps, I set a new goal to  formalize my business as an LLC. Which, by the way, I actually succeeded in doing last summer.

My 2018 Art Goals

For 2018, I have a long-term goal of improving noticeably as an artist.

For smaller goals along the way, I first started by taking a month (December) to establish a daily drawing routine. In January, I set a new goal to study figure drawing. I'm taking an online figure drawing class which should take me about 2-3 months to complete. Within that the class is broken down into several mini goals or segments (gesture, bean, structure, long study, etc).

After that, I'll be ready to set a new goal. What will that new goal be? I'm not sure yet. Maybe painting or maybe studying anatomy. What matters is I don't have to worry about it yet and I'm focused on the short term, smaller goals.

Now, what happens if I fail? Well, if a week goes by, and I’ve hardly drawn at all, that’s ok. It's not a big deal because it's only a week’s loss. I'm not going to be hard on myself. I will pick it back up again.

If I wasn’t breaking up big goals into smaller ones, I might get a few months into the year and give up, convincing myself that I'm not capable of achieving what I want and feeling bad about myself.

What We’ve Learned

  • Traditional New Year’s resolutions are a pitfall in and of themselves; they involve setting grandiose goals that are difficult if not impossible to achieve without smaller ones along the way.
  • By setting smaller goals and working to stick to them, you can eventually achieve the big goals by chipping away at them bit by bit.
  • If you fail to achieve a short-term goal, it’s only a small loss, and you can pick right back up where you left off.