Don’t Make These 8 Mistakes When Making Your New Year’s Resolutions

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A woman sitting in front of a window at home while writing in a notebook and drinking coffee.

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Don’t set yourself up for failure.


Key points

  • Making meaningful change requires thoughtful planning and dedication — both of which are essential ingredients for successful New Year’s resolutions.
  • By avoiding these common mistakes when making your plans this year, you’ll be well on your way towards achieving whatever ambitions you have for 2023!
  • Make sure your goals are realistic and specific, and avoid giving yourself too many resolutions to work on.

It’s that time of year, when we make our New Year’s resolutions and start thinking about the goals we want to accomplish in the new year. Right now is a great time to start fresh and learn from the previous year. Making meaningful changes, like becoming financially independent, requires thoughtful planning and dedication — both of which are essential ingredients for successful New Year’s resolutions. Here are eight common mistakes you should avoid when resolving to create a better future.

1. Understand the why of making your resolution

Why are you making the resolution? By understanding your motivation and why these goals are important, you will be able to stay dedicated and not lose sight when things get difficult. You want these resolutions to be your resolutions, not anyone else’s. By taking ownership, you will have a clear and meaningful reason for your resolution, as that will help to keep you on track and focused.

2. Not setting realistic goals

When crafting your resolutions, be sure to set realistic and achievable goals. One of the biggest mistakes people make is being way too ambitious. Your resolution shouldn’t be too challenging or too easy — find that sweet spot in between! Failing to stick with a resolution can leave you feeling discouraged and unmotivated, so try not to bite off more than you can chew.

3. Making too many resolutions

Another common mistake is trying to do too much at once. Having simple goals is great, but working from a huge list of resolutions can be overwhelming. Choose the most important ones that you want to focus on and make those your primary resolution. You’ll likely find more success in tackling one or two important goals than in trying to accomplish 10 small ones.

4. Not having an action plan

After deciding what your resolution is, create a step-by-step guide for achieving it. Another mistake many people make when setting New Year’s resolutions is not planning ahead. This includes setting achievable mini-goals and deadlines for yourself along the way, so you stay on track with your progress. It’s easy to get caught up in the moment and make lofty promises, only to realize that you don’t have a plan for achieving them. Before making any commitments for the new year, take some time to think about what it would take for you to reach those goals and create an actionable plan. That way you’ll know exactly what steps you need to take throughout the year in order to stay on track.

5. Not being specific

A vague goal like “saving more” isn’t as effective as something like “save $100 more a month in my retirement account.” Be specific with yourself and your goals so it’s easier to follow through with them. Set number targets so you know exactly what it means to have met your goals. Your resolutions should have specific objectives that you can measure against and that are achievable, given your resources and timeline. Setting vague goals or ones that are too ambitious will set you up for failure.

6. Not tracking your progress

Use a calendar or journal to track your progress, or better yet, create a simple scoreboard for yourself. Studies show that we are motivated by the need to win, so a scoreboard is a perfect way to help you stay on top of your goals. Are you in debt? Create a scoreboard showing you paying it down! It will also give you an idea of how far along you are in achieving goals. Take time each week to reflect on what went well and what didn’t go quite as planned — this will allow you to make the necessary adjustments for future success.

7. Not giving yourself grace

Any meaningful resolution worth setting for yourself will mean hitting snags along the way. But failing doesn’t mean you are a failure. There are four quarters in football and basketball games. There will be some ups and downs during the game, but the goal isn’t to make no mistakes during the game, but to win it! The goal for New Year’s resolutions is to take meaningful steps to constantly better yourself over the year. It isn’t about becoming a brand-new person in an instant like flipping a lightswitch. Like your finances, you can’t become a millionaire overnight, it is about building your wealth by sticking to your financial plan.

8. Not having an accountability mechanism

Finally, one of the biggest mistakes people make with their New Year’s resolutions is not holding themselves accountable. Without proper accountability measures in place, it’s far too easy to fall off track or give up altogether when things get tough. Set yourself up for success by keeping a journal or finding an accountability partner who can help keep you motivated throughout the year. Even small steps like checking in with yourself each week will go a long way towards helping you stick with your resolutions over time.

Making New Year’s resolutions is a great way to start the year off right and stay focused on self improvement. That being said, don’t forget to have fun and be proud of yourself for taking the initiative to make these changes in your life. By being mindful of these common mistakes, you can ensure that your 2023 journey goes smoothly and successfully. Best of luck!

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