Why New Year's Resolutions Fail & What To Do Instead

Why do New Year's resolutions fail? Have you ever wondered why every year you end up making a New Year's resolution every year and decide that you are going to do “better" this year? So, what happened last year?

One of the main things we need to realise is that a resolution does not quite work the way we think it does. For instance, it is not a linear path. One does not go at once from being hopeless to excellent at whatever we choose to do, regardless what it is. It is more like a path walked by children. They stand up, fall and deviate from their path quite often, but they eventually learn to walk. So will you!

Secondly, our resolution is often too close to our hearts. Every once in a while, we need to distance ourselves from it and see it for what it is. It’s a task we have set ourselves. When we zoom out, we can see a more apparent pattern of where we began, where we are, and where we are going. It makes things clearer.

Why new years resolutions fail

Last but not least is our emotional reasoning. A day on which you are tired or just not feeling well enough is not necessarily a day when you are not doing anything. Progress does not mean doing something for the sake of doing it. Every time we tell ourselves we are procrastinating or being lazy or we are just not good enough, we beat ourselves down. As an artist, we should know that recognising our ebbs and flows will help in keeping our goals.

Alternatives to New Year's Resolutions

Chunk your tasks

Our mind automatically starts to resist when we think of surmounting a significant goal. It always seems such a huge task and sometimes that initial hurdle is hard to cross over. Finding ways to reduce your resistance is one of the key elements in achieving what you want.

Break down your new year resolutions

Start with smaller goals. Break it down into small bite-sized, do-able chunks. Make the first few easy to achieve, this will ensure you feel like you accomplished something. You can realise your goals and take the next steps easily. What is the minimum you can commit to per day?

Plan for derailments

If I have learned anything over these years as an artist, it is that we must always plan for derailments. Shakeups to our plans happen all the time. Sometimes they are small and other times too huge to ignore – another deadline that couldn’t be ignored, a family member falling ill or perhaps something bigger like getting fired from a job or the death of a loved one.

Plan for derailments in your along your goals.

Go easy on yourself. On our worst days, we fear that we won’t be able to handle the curveballs life throws our way. We fear that we won’t be able to learn that new drawing skill, build new relationships and network with others, secure a career as an artist. Left unchecked, fear can paralyze us from taking action.

So... Make a plan, but don’t cling to it. You will recover from the first let-down rather quickly if you adapt to your circumstances. Find the learning opportunity in the situation, and who knows, your new plan might be better!

Focus on progress made

We are often so focused on reaching the end of our project that we forget to enjoy the present or even to realise that we have gotten quite a lot done.

Focus on on the journey and progress made.

Enjoying the journey makes the goal so much easier to achieve. With every drawing done and every step reached you are closer to being the artist you dreamed to be. Celebrate small wins.

Assess Regularly

Every so often, stop and review your work. Then, study what you have accomplished, what could have gone better and how you plan to improve your artwork. Set new goals if necessary.

Assess the steps taken and plan your goals accordingly.

It’s easy to get lost in the daily grind and end up feeling like you aren’t getting anywhere. Self-assessment creates a pause in which your mind can catch a breath and look over your shoulder and say “well done” or “you’re getting there.” If you decided to change directions altogether, that is fine too.

Writing down and reassessing gives you something to check back on. Download my free self-assessment and goal setting guide here. Print it out and write down your goals.

Create Inspiring Goals

Being able to create art is a gift and joy for those of us who are passionate about it. Create goals that excite you and spark your curiosity and creativity.

Your new year resolutions should excite you.

If it does not excite you, you may need to rethink why you are choosing to do it. You need goals that make you feel thrilled about waking up and getting it done.

You don't need a New Year for resolutions

Most importantly, I want you to realise that you don't need to wait until the next New Year Day to set your resolutions. Creating short goals that are accomplishable throughout the year is much more sustainable.

You don't need New year resolutions.

As humans, we are considerably better at dealing with the short term than the long term. Creating habits and a lifestyle that supports your goals will be easier to help you achieve your dreams than making resolutions once a year.

Perhaps you resolve to share your talents with the world this year. Maybe you want to learn how to leverage social media to build your fan base and connect with fellow artists. Or you could start an art blog or YouTube channel. Or it may be that you just want to up-level your artistic skills.

Goal setting template for artists

Assess your last year and plan with this goal setting pdf. Print it out and write down your goals. You can look back by writing down your resolutions and re-evaluating them.

Free goal setting template for artists

We would love to hear from you. What New Year’s resolutions do you think might be beneficial to you as an artist? Share them with us. We encourage fellow artists here!

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