Appreciation Goals & Planning

Top five reasons for ditching the New Years resolutions!

I had the opportunity over the holidays to chat with a reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press, Meghan Franklin, about my views on why I am recommending that this year people ditch the making of New Years resolutions in favor of something more positive. Franklin’s article appeared on-line today and also offered commentary from Winnipeg psychologist Dr. Ivan Bilash and author Steve Siebold.

Here are my top five reasons for dropping New Years resolutions:

  1. New Year’s Resolutions start your year off on the wrong foot. They inevitability focus your attention on all the things that are wrong in your life.
  2. One is never enough. New year’s resolutions often snowball into such a large list of things that need to be changed that people don’t know where to start when it comes time to start taking steps to fulfill these resolutions.
  3. They set you up for failure. Not only are there too many new year’s resolutions, they are often the same old determinations that end up on your list every year. Resolutions are based on the outdated school of through that with determination and resolve you can force yourself to make changes in your life. The will power alone strategy is sure to burn out in days if not weeks.
  4. New year’s resolutions are the playground of our inner task master – that voice in your head that tells you that you are too lazy, dumb, out-of-shape, overweight, and 101 one other put downs. We all have these inner critics and they get way more bandwidth in our heads than they deserve.
  5. New year’s resolutions have little staying power. They come on the heels of holiday excess and offer a temporary sense of puritanical satisfaction that it is fleeting. As we get back to work and the business of day-to-day life they are quickly cast aside as we fall back on our usual habits.

Instead of New Year’s resolutions try one of the following:

  • What did you do last year that was really great and you would like to do more of? Think of it as a “what I want to continue list.”
  • What are you most grateful for? This is a list of the specific things that light up your life. If you enjoy writing this list consider starting a weekly or daily gratitude journal.
  • What are your top priorities in life? This is a short list of one to five things that are most important to you. Write them down. Review the list every week and determine what weekly investments you will make on these priorities.
  • If you are the sort of person who shudders when reading numbers one to three above then you might instead consider making yourself a “stop list”. This is the list of activities that take up time in your life and that you are going to stop doing in 2013. A lawyer friend shared a great Guardian article on this topic with me, you can read it here.
  • Finally, consider setting an adventure goal for yourself instead of a boring resolution. An adventure goal could be anything from deciding to try a new sport like indoor rock climbing, to trying out a new food, or taking tango lessons.

But whatever you do, this year give the New Year’s resolutions a miss!

About the author

Allison Wolf

I am the founder of AWAL and one of the most senior coaches for lawyers in North America. I have helped countless clients over the past fifteen years, develop thriving legal practices and before that served as director of marketing for award-winning law firms. My specialty is uncovering the thinking traps and gaps holding clients back and helping them acquire the mindsets, skills, and habits for growing successful and rewarding legal careers. After a career in legal marketing and business development with law firms in Beijing, New York, and Vancouver, I was trained as a coach in 2004 at Royal Roads University and now coach clients from across North America. You can reach me at or learn more about my coaching practice from the coaching section of the Attorney With A Life Website.