Are our New Year’s Resolutions setting us up to fail?

How many times have you set a resolution, held to it for a month or so, slipped up, and given up? If you’re like most people, the answer is all the time. If every year we fail to keep to our resolutions, maybe the problem isn’t us, but the kinds of resolutions we’re trying to set.

Usually we make resolutions to modify a certain behavior. For example:

I want to stop drinking.

I want to go to the gym.

I want to diet.

These are all worthy goals. But they miss a connection to what truly motivates the frustrating, unwanted behavior in the first place.

Think about it this way—if your resolution is to stop drinking, the moment you take a sip, you’ve failed.           

Resolutions to modify a behavior are usually all-or-nothing. If you fall short, you’ve lost. And that failure is discouraging, leaving a worthy goal discarded until next year when you decide to try once again.

Consider an alternative. Instead of resolving to change a behavior, resolve to understand the WHY behind the behavior.

For example, instead of resolving to drink less, resolve to explore why you drink. Some questions to consider:

What do you get out of drinking?

And how does it get in the way of what you desire?

What other possibilities can you tap into to pursue what you desire?

And what support do you need to get there?

This curiosity gets at the true cause of this behavior and creates a pathway to deeper, lasting change.

Sure, it may not be an easy resolution to explain. But you can’t fail at curiosity. And knowing that you’re heading in the right direction can help you keep at it over the long haul - even when it’s most challenging. So stick with it and get curious.

Happy New Year from all of us at Evo Health and Wellness!

Evo Health and Wellness is an outpatient addiction treatment program in Venice, California that respects where you are and where you want to go. Read more about why going cold turkey doesn’t need to be the only option. Learn more about Evo's program.