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Focus on specific goals, not resolutions.

Resolutions Are a Waste of Time

It’s the time of year that everyone makes the decision to be better at one thing or another. But, with statistics like the one below, wouldn’t you agree that making resolutions are a waste of time?

Research has shown that, after six months, fewer than half the people who make New Year’s resolutions have stuck with them, and, after a year, that number declines to around ten percent.”

Why Resolutions Are a Waste of Time

Sticking with resolutions is also an uphill battle because of one little thing — YOU. And, me, too. All of us.

Here’s why. While we may want to change, it’s the required habits and new routines that are tough for us to wrap our arms around. Change involves planning and long-term commitment to a reasonable, new way of doing things.

Do these resolutions sound familiar?

  1. Lose weight/get healthier
  2. Get a better job/make more money
  3. Go back to school/learn something new
  4. Relax more/spend more time with friends and family
  5. Get more organized/manage time better

They should. Well, they are familiar to me. All of them have been on my own “New Year To Do List” at one point or another in my life. In fact, I’ve been working on number four for much of the year … more on that in a bit.

Change is no easy feat, especially the part about sticking to a reasonable plan. Anybody can come up with a plan, but it takes some forethought to create something you can actually stick to.

It might help to talk it through with people you trust to get their feedback. They’d probably tell you that trying to change every aspect of your life is, in fact, not only unreasonable, but also unhealthy and can set you up for failure.

Some of us can easily get up and dust off our backsides and try again, but there are many of us who just fall into a rut and throw our hands up the air.

So, what’s the point of making resolutions? Resolutions are usually a waste of time because they are too big and unreasonable. So, make a decision right now to stop struggling to reach lofty and (often) unattainable resolutions.

Resolutions suck because they're often too lofty. Focus on specific goals instead. Share on X

Focus on Specific Goals Instead

All is not lost. You can choose the direction your life is going in AND you can choose which goals you will focus on first. You can be realistic about how to incrementally and strategically make changes.

There are specific things you can do to stay inside the 10% of people who keep their goals alive throughout the year.

Here’s how you can get started:

Zig Ziglar’s Seven Steps to Goal Setting

A goal properly set is halfway reached. -Zig ZiglarBegin with Zig Ziglar. I happen to think that Zig Ziglar’s seven steps to goal setting are very powerful. The steps are logical and can be applied to both personal and business goals.

Plus, they’re only seven steps,  just seven things to help you stay focused.

  1. Identify your goals – write them down
  2. Identify why you want to reach that goal – list the benefits
  3. List obstacles you have to overcome
  4. Identify the people, groups, and organization you need to work with
  5. Identify what you need to know – list the skills
  6. Develop a plan of action
  7. Put a date on when you expect to achieve the goal – set a deadline

Here’s a quick example of how you can use Ziglar’s process.

You could say: I want to lose 50 pounds.

Or you can be more reasonable and realistic and replace that statement with: I want to lose 10 pounds over the next three months. 

(i.e., the first step toward the overall goal of losing 50 lbs)

Then, follow up with the things that might make it difficult to lose those pounds (e.g., everyone around you eats junk food). Really put your goal(s) through all of the seven steps.

Other Things You’ll Need Besides Zig

Are you thinking that maybe this sounds ridiculous? … that losing 10 pounds in three months would take too long, particularly if you want to lose 50 pounds?

Ziglar’s goal-setting process can still work well for you, but you will also need:

Patience, Patience, and More Patience

Remember to pace yourself and to give enough time to achieve your goals. Rome wasn’t built in a day, right? Slow and steady wins the race. If I come with any other clichés, I’ll let you know, but I think you get the picture.

Positive Vibes

You’ll want to have several doses of positivity for when you come across a few bumps in the road. You will inevitably come face-to-face with roadblocks, so find out what makes you happy and keep it in your back pocket.

Maybe it’s your favorite music or writing with your favorite pen. Whatever it is, go find it now. Have more than one thing that lifts your mood? Even better. More aces in your pocket. Or up your sleeve. Or wherever you choose to keep them.


The right people with their own positive vibes also help with those bumps in the road. They can be sources of strength and motivation. Keep them close by.

You'll need the 3 P's to achieve your goals: patience, positive vibes, and (the right) people. Share on X

Final Word

It’s harder to make several changes simultaneously, so try focusing on one goal at a time. Sometimes, becoming successful in one area will have a positive impact on other parts of your life.

This seems to be working for me. I’ve been focusing on spending more time with family — without rushing and making mental notes about everything I need to do. Making time to be with the people I love actually elevated me to the top of my to do list. This made me happier and less stressed, two things that were also on my list.

Give it a shot and let me know what worked and what didn’t.

Hey there, I’m Deb. I’m a Digital Productivity Coach and Consultant, Certified Professional Organizer®, speaker, and lover of all things tech. I’m also addicted to apps and love helping small business owners leverage technology so they can be more productive.

This Post Has 10 Comments

  1. @Janet: What’s great about Zig Ziglar’s steps is that they are in and of themselves simple and easy to understand. They really are a great set of guidelines for just about any goal one might want to achieve. Even just the act of writing your goals down is pretty powerful. Thanks for leaving a comment, Janet. Always great to hear from you. =)


  2. I love the idea of setting goals rather than making resolutions. I also love your idea of focusing on one goal at a time. Thanks for the post and the reminder of setting goals.

    1. I think goals can seem more reasonable and attainable. Resolutions can often seem lofty and out of reach — especially if we’ve failed at achieving them in previous years. Thanks for stopping by, Kathy. =)

  3. Great advice. I heard of Ziglar’s Steps of Goals Setting, and I totally agree. I have been setting goals since I was a teenager and found that the more specific I was, the easier it was to achieve the target. My favorite thing to do is ask myself questions about why I want to reach this goal. If I don’t have the passion for achieving a goal, it will never happen. =)

    1. “My favorite thing to do is ask myself questions about why I want to reach this goal.” <-- Love this, Sabrina! The "why" is so important because it can really motivate and push you toward reaching your goal.

  4. I see no difference between a “resolution” and a “goal”. Whatever you want to call them, though….and whenever you want to set them…Zig’s advice, and yours, Deb, is very helpful! In the corporate world we used to set S.M.A.R.T. goals: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Specific.

    1. I think “resolutions” tend to have a negative connotation because they’re often seen as unattainable. Many of us make the same ones every year because we’ve failed at accomplishing them. Love SMART goals, btw. They keep us on track and focused in the right direction. As always, love hearing from you, Hazel.

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