4 Reasons to Not Set Your 2019 Resolutions This Coming Jan. 1

Realizing that sometimes we need to slow down to go fast is the real key to setting smart resolutions.

learn more about Sue Hawkes

By Sue Hawkes

Boonyachoat | Getty Images

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

It's a feeling we all know well this time year: The holidays end; we're a few pounds heavier due to an excess of cookies and treats; and we wake up to a new calendar on the wall saying "January 1."

Related: 5 New Year's Resolutions Your Company Should Make for 2019

That puts some fear into us. So, we quickly take stock of the past year and decide what things we'd most like to change -- which usually involves some combination of saving more money, losing weight and finding more passion in our jobs. These are all good resolutions, of course; but Jan. 1 is not the time to be making them.

The reason: It can be easy to fall into the belief that we must declare our resolutions the day the calendar changes. But in reality, we're setting ourselves up for failure by setting hasty goals. So, that's my own resolution for next week: not to make one. At least not yet.

Read on for the biggest reasons to not set your resolutions on Jan/1.

You need your mind back.

Getting back into the swing of things after the holidays can take time. After spending time with family, running from party to party and throwing yourself into the typical shopping frenzy, you can feel pretty disconnected from your business. This isn't a bad thing, however, as research shows that we all need breaks in our calendars.

"If we continue to ignore this need, it will, without a doubt, lead us to burnout," Matt Plummer, founder of Zaryana, wrote in the Harvard Business Review. He recommended setting sleep and exercise goals for your time off in order to relax but also maintaining some semblance of routine, so you don't struggle as much when it's time to head back to work.

Related: What You Can Learn From Mark Zuckerberg's Past New Year Resolutions

Realizing that sometimes you need to slow down to go fast is the real key to setting smart resolutions. Taking the time to ease yourself back into the business and waiting to set goals until you are fully focused again will allow you to set better, more effective goals. If waiting a month to set your resolution means you're more likely to actually stick to it, that's a worthwhile trade-off.

Pre-work is key.

Taking time to do your pre-work and give serious thought to your goals will lead to better success in the long run. Again, you probably haven't put in the time to do this over the holidays and will not be prepared by Jan. 1. Setting goals without context and pre-planning is not useful because you need to fully assess the previous year by asking yourself what worked, what didn't, what you should improve on and what potential roadblocks you should be aware of.

A lack of context can also lead you to set unrealistic or unattainable goals, which will be demotivating for both you and your team. Stretch yourself but stay realistic. When planning, ask yourself: How will I set myself up to win? What else needs to change in order to make this resolution possible? What do I need to say no to in order to say yes to this resolution?

Pondering these questions up-front will lead to proactive problem-solving. Another big part of this pre-work is determining your "Why." This should inspire you (and your team) to stick to your resolution even when things get difficult or unforeseen problems occur. As Michelle Segar shared on Entrepreneur, "Whys are the foundation of the entire behavior change process and have a domino effect. Motivation is our fuel for doing anything, and the quality of our motivation affects whether our resolutions stick or fade away."

Identify what will motivate you, what needs to be in place and figure out how you'll achieve your resolution before you commit to it.

Calendars don't matter.

I'll put it bluntly: The idea that we need to start over and commit to new things come Jan. 1 is a made-up belief. Just because we have a new calendar doesn't mean we need to tie that to our goal-setting. In fact, Dara Kaplan, co-creator of the Pretty Electric podcast, advocates for setting goals in the autumn months. "If you start planning in October for these goals, you will have been already taking the steps to achieve these goals by January," Kaplan has shared. "You will have already been on the road to progress, and less likely to give up when you do not get immediate gratification the week after New Year's."

Ask yourself what the right time for your business planning is. It might be in the summer if you're on a fiscal calendar or in the fall of the previous year before holiday craziness and year-end deadlines hit. Whatever time you choose, allow time for pre-work and reflecting first.

Incremental change = real results.

Incremental change -- the small things that add up to big results -- is what creates real, lasting change. It can be easy to get distracted by ideas of big sweeping change, but in reality, those lofty resolutions rarely last and often lose steam after just a couple of weeks. Instead, choose to focus on a few small, specific resolutions that will make a big impact when they're followed consistently over time.

For example, instead of planning to hit the gym every morning before work (very lofty if you don't already have an exercise routine), commit to exercising at home for 20 minutes before work three times a week. You'll be more likely to stick to this alternate resolution because it's easier to follow, and the smaller effort will lead to greater results over time than exercising every day for two weeks and then stopping.

Incremental goals will also help you stay consistent through the ups and downs of business. In many industries people seem to check out and slow down during the holidays and summer time, and once we hit the New Year's or back-to-school time everyone gets more frenzied and turns on the gas at work. Avoid these fits and starts by sticking to small, consistent actions. Statistics from the Statistic Brain Research Institute showed that only 9.2 percent of people in one study ever achieved their New Year's resolutions and were able to break free from their bad habits; this doesn't have to be you! Create smaller resolutions that will lead to big results.

Related: Why Most New Year's Resolutions Fail and What You Should Do Instead

The right time to set your resolution is the time that you'll be able to stick to it. Usually, this means you don't set it on Jan.1. I urge you to wait until your mind is fully engaged again after the holidays, to do your pre-work and planning and to focus on smaller resolutions that will cause large change over time. Remember, you are in control -- not that calendar on the wall!

Sue Hawkes


Sue Hawkes helps CEOs and their leadership teams succeed. As a bestselling author, keynote speaker, certified EOS implementer, certified management effectiveness coach, WPO chapter chair and award-winning seminar leader, Hawkes brings over 25 years of experience to her clients.

Related Topics

Editor's Pick

Have More Responsibilities at Work, But No Pay Bump? Use This Script to Get the Raise You Deserve.
Black and Asian Founders Face Opposition at All Levels — Here's Why That Has to Change
Business News

'This Made Me Physically Recoil From My Phone': Lingerie Brand Apologizes For 'Creepy' Ad Referencing Ryan Reynolds and Bras

Online lingerie retailer Harper Wilde is under fire for a bizarre sponsored post it has since pulled from Instagram.

Thought Leaders

5 Small Daily Habits Self-Made Millionaires Use to Grow Their Wealth

We've all seen what self-made millionaires look like on TV, but it's a lot more subtle than that. Brian Tracy researched what small daily habits these successful entrepreneurs adopted on their journey from rags to riches.


Blake Lively Knows Being a Perfectionist Is 'Weaponized' Against Women, But She's Micromanaged Her Way to Millions, So She's Not Stopping Now

The "Gossip Girl" actress is done apologizing for being a control freak. After all, obsessing over every little detail is what's made her mixer brand Betty Buzz a raging success.