Cartoon of man breaking through the finish line tape or a run with a black tshirt and his arms raised in the air in excitement

Surviving Quitters Day: 5 Steps to Fix Your Doomed New Year’s Resolution

I signed up for a race once, based on a dare. Someone mistakenly told me I couldn’t really be considered a triathlete until I raced the Wildflower Triathlon.

You know where this is going, right?

Yep. I signed up for that race. The fact I’d been injured a fair amount the previous year and that Wildflower was one of (if not THE) hardest 1/2 iron distance races in the US… should… have given me pause to reconsider.

It didn’t, of course.

And, so, racing at Wildflower became my goal—my resolution—for that year.

What happened? I struggled that year to make it to that race–from unanticipated life events to injury. I hadn’t planned very well, hadn’t anticipated just how much it would take to train. When I did cross that finish line, it wasn’t pretty. It was much more bitter-sweet than I had hoped.

Think this was a terrible way to set a goal?

You’re right. And yet so often, big goals, like New Year’s resolutions, don’t have too much more thought behind them and are doomed to failure. In fact, statistics show that for people making a New Year’s Resolution for 2023, 81% are about to call it quits. It’s such a consistent failure rate by the second Friday of January (today!) that today has been formally dubbed Quitter’s Day.

And that’s a shame.

None of us really set out to be quitters.

The good news is, that if you really want to be successful with a goal by the end of 2023, it’s still not too late either make your chosen goal work or pick one that will.

How do I fix my resolution?

No matter what your goal is, what’s more important than setting goals, is how you set them. And if you picked this year’s goal based on a whim, social trends, peer-pressure (or a dare), you may want to rethink things.

Choosing your resolution: A road that splits into two at the edge of the woods with one sign pointing right saying "this way?" and another sign pointing left saying "this way?"

Don’t worry about what others will think about you changing (or editing) your resolution—remember 81% of your buddies are quitting their ill-conceived goals today.

You, on the other hand, will be able to keep going on that road less traveled (even if your pathway takes a small turn). You can be one of the 9% of people that actually complete their New Year’s Resolution, according to data.

First things first: Why Resolutions Fail

It’s important to know why so many people fail at keeping resolutions. Several articles from Psychology Today boil it down to a few focal issues:

  • Desire- do you really want to make this goal or change? Or did your friends talk you into it? If your personal desire to attain the goal is superficial, you won’t have the determination you may need.
  • Bad Timing- maybe you want to achieve the goal, but recognize there are significant barriers in the way. Maybe you’re not emotionally ready. Or financially. Picking January 1st to start resolutions is a tradition, but may not necessarily be a date that works for your specific needs, and can be the very thing that sets you up to fail.
  • Too big of a goal- did you promise more than you can handle? Will the goal take too much of your time to fit into your daily routine?
  • Unrealistic- did you pick an impossible goal?
  • All or Nothing- for many, if a resolution isn’t working 100%, rather than figure out why, they quit.

Are you struggling with your 2023 resolution because of any of these issues? Don’t worry, as the data shows, you’re not alone. And like I said, there’s time to fix all that.

Making a resolution that succeeds- beating the odds

Set your current resolution aside for a few minutes and let’s look at steps that can get you back on track. (We’ll get back to your current resolution in a few minutes).

A clip board with a checklist and e yellow pencil laying across the top

In a nutshell, smart goal setting includes:

  • Brainstorming
  • Adding a dash of reality
  • Prioritizing
  • Picking a start date, and
  • Being prepared to adjust the goal

(Please note: Responding to a dare is not on the list!)

Brainstorming:

This is the fun part (for me, anyway). Grab a notebook and just start jotting down ideas of goals you’d like to achieve this year. Don’t edit, just list them out… this a wish list. You’ll cross things off the list (or set them aside for another year) in a moment.

Go ahead and include your current goal also and let’s see what happens to it through this process. It may be the right goal, but need some tweaking. Or you may realize it isn’t the right goal for you (or at least not right now).

Adding a touch of reality:

Now is when you look at your wish list with a critical eye. Examine each individual goal on the list. Ask yourself:

  • Is it realistic at all?
  • Is it realistic with your lifestyle to get it done this year?
  • Are you really interested in completing this goal?
  • Are you willing to give up other things in your life to leave time for this goal?

If the answer is no for any of these questions, cross the goal off the list.

Be brutally honest. This step can set you up for failure or success.

Prioritize:

For me, this is where a pile of Post Its comes in handy. For the goals that aren’t crossed off the list, write each one onto a Post It and find a place to easily re-arrange them. I stick mine on a wall, but any system you come up with is fine. Rearrange the goals in the order of most important to least important.

When you’re done, at the very top of the Post Its should be the goal you are most interested and invested in completing. It’s the goal that you will be must successful at completing.

Pick a resolution start date:

Looking at the goal you’ve picked, when is a reasonable time to start that goal? Is it this month? Next month? Whatever it is, pick that as your start date. Picking a reasonable date can be your key to success.

Woman with long brown hair and blue blouse looking thoughtful with a large question mark near her head

Check in:

Identify a date to check back on your progress with the goal. What barriers have been in the way to staying on track? Are you able to remove the barriers?

Be prepared to make small adjustments to realign your timeline and keep yourself on track. Checking in every month or two can allow you to make progress, yet be soon enough catch problems that may need to be addressed.  For some goals, like losing weight, maybe a weekly check in is more appropriate.

You’re on the way to success!

NOW you have a goal, a resolution, that you really desire to do. One that is well thought out. And a method to realize when the goal is going off track.

NOW you are likely to be one of the 19% that make it beyond Quitter’s Day. One of the very few that attains their goal by the end of the year.

And unlike my race, when you cross that finish line, it’s going to feel good.

But…what about my current goal?

If your current goal made it to your Post Its, did this process help you figure out what went wrong? Why you are off track with the goal? Did you make the goal too large? Or pick a start date that doomed success? Making a few adjustments to these elements can keep you on track with your current goal, as long as it is one you really want to pursue.

Isn’t that cheating?

Nope.

It is cheating to completely give up on goals for this new year. It’s cheating yourself out of a positive change in your life.Put ego aside, if you really want to be a winner here. It’s better to make most of a goal than to give up on Quitters Day and achieve nothing.

If being successful means altering your goals to something smart and useful in your life, how is that possibly cheating? I see it much more as a learning curve that you chose to tackle. The desire to achieve something positive this year, and not embrace the “quitters” mentality. And USA Triathlon agrees. They tell their athletes their vision must adapt when new information about their lives impacts attaining the goal. Not doing this can lead to burn out.

A purist might say it is cheating. That you must do the goal you picked to start on January 1st or you’re a loser.

81% of those purists will be celebrating Quitters Day today.

Will you be one of them?

What’s your resolution will be for 2023? Did this article help you figure out how to get back on track? Share in the comments!

Other Resources:

To read more about success with resolution s (or any goal setting in your life), here are a few useful articles:

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