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4 reasons why New Years Resolutions don’t work

Having trouble sticking to your new years resolution? You aren’t alone.

In October of 2009, I decided that I wanted to learn Spanish for a few reasons.danielle ford new years eve

1) I’ve always been kind of ashamed of being a Mexican who doesn’t know how to speak Spanish. A lot of the time, after I meet someone new, during that initial slew of awkward questions we exchange to break the ice, I get asked, “What nationality are you?” I answer with “English and Mexican.” The next question is always “Oh! Do you speak Spanish?” And that’s when I lower my head a tad, drop my eyes to floor and shamefully respond with “No, I don’t.” I feel like, being Mexican, I should know Spanish.

2) I really hate being out of the loop. When I’m at a restaurant or shopping or anywhere and people around me are speaking Spanish, it drives me crazy because I want to know what they’re saying! It’s not that I want to listen in on other people’s conversations. (Ok, maybe I want to a little.) But it’s mostly that I don’t know if they’re talking about ME. Or if they’re discussing something that I might want to know or something that could be of importance, like maybe they’re sharing the cure for Cancer. (That’s totally possible.) I really just like to always know what’s going on.

3) I’ve dreamed up these highly-unlikely-to-ever-happen situations in my head where I would NEED to know how to speak Spanish. For instance, I could be driving on a dark, lonely highway in the middle of the night and my car could just stall out of nowhere and I would have to wait and hope that someone comes by soon to help me. Well, what if that person only spoke Spanish? They could be talking to me and motioning for me to get in their car and I wouldn’t know if they were saying, “Please get in my car so I can drive you to safety” or “Please get in my car so I can murder you and dismantle your body.” Or what if I was visiting Mexico with my family and we got arrested by the Mexican government because someone tipped them off that we were American drug lords. They could be questioning us about our involvement in the war on drugs and if I knew how to speak Spanish, I could tell them, “We aren’t American drug lords.” And save the day.

(I’ve played out another “save the day” story in my head: I’m on an airplane and mid-flight, the pilot has a seizure or heart attack and a stewardess shouts frantically, “Does anyone know how to fly this plane?!” – And that’s why “Learn how to fly a plane” is on my bucket list.)

Anyway, I had decided that I wanted to learn how to speak Spanish.

I went Barnes and Noble and bought this huge box set with 20+ CDs to listen to. I could have started the 1st CD in October, when I got it, but I started thinking that the holidays were coming and I might not have enough time and then *LIGHTBULB* I realized that I could make “Learn Spanish” my New Years resolution. Brilliant!

On January 1st, I followed through and popped the CD in. It started off OK. I began listening to and repeating about 10 simple, common phrases like “Nice to meet you.” “Where is the bathroom?” “What is your name?” By the end of that session, I had those phrases down perfect and I was thinking that at the rate I was going, I’d know Spanish within a month. The next day, there was a new set of phrases. “I’m happy to meet you as well.” “The girl’s bathroom is there.” “My name is Danielle.”  I memorized them all and was feeling like a Mexican Rock Star. The third day, the CD explained that I was supposed to match the phrases from the first day with the phrases from the 2nd and that’s when I realized that I couldn’t remember anything at all from the first day!

So, I got really pissed off and QUIT.

That was the end of my Spanish education. After looking forward to cracking open my Spanish course for almost 3 months, I was over it in 3 days.

And that’s why I don’t like New Years resolutions and will never make one again.

Looking back, I realized that I made 4 mistakes on my quest to learn Spanish.

1) I shouldn’t have waited until the New Year to start. If I wanted to do something, I should’ve just done it. Waiting for a significant date to start is just fancy procrastination.

2) I shouldn’t have been in such a hurry. If I had taken a week to consume each segment, instead of just 1 day, the information would’ve soaked in better.

3) I didn’t tell anyone about it. I wanted to keep it a secret until I was totally fluent and then, at the right moment- perhaps at a family gathering- I would shock and impress everyone with my mad Spanish skills. That was dumb, though. If I had told others about my goals, they could’ve helped to hold me accountable.

4) I didn’t allow for failure. Of course I never plan to fail, but I hadn’t even considered that I might have some trouble learning Spanish so when I failed at first, there was no plan B. If I had been logical and anticipated it being difficult, I wouldn’t have been so discouraged when I didn’t remember all the information on the third day.

The reason why New Years resolutions don’t work is that they’re usually not attainable.

Change takes time. It takes about 21 days to change a habit. And you have to change it little by little so that you get used to it.

So, if your goal is to lose weight and you’ve been pretty unhealthy in the past, you shouldn’t make your New Years Resolution to eat healthy and go to the gym every single day. Instead, you should change 1 thing at a time. For instance, you could say for the 1st week, you are going to change what you eat for breakfast. Then spend that week trying different healthy breakfast options until you have enough that you are used to making and that you like. Then another week, you change your lunch, and so on..

If your goal is to get your whole house organized, you don’t want to just jump in and spend 5 days straight cleaning out your garage and organizing your closets and junk drawers because you will get burnt out, put off other responsibilities, not be able to keep up with the regular housework and then you’ll get discouraged. Instead, you should write a list of every area in your home that needs to be organized, then put 1 area from your list into each week of your yearly calendar. And stick to it!

The only way to accomplish a goal is to break it down into the smallest possible tasks and do them 1 by 1 at a steady pace. <—Click to tweet this quote!

I’ve personally given up on New Years resolutions. I always create 30, 60 or 90 day goals for myself. I focus on things I want to change or get better at and at the end of the year, I didn’t accomplish just one thing, I accomplished many and it doesn’t feel like it was very hard because I allowed myself to take it all step by step and not be too hard on myself if I sucked at something.

So tell me in the comments below.. What is your New Years resolution? How are you doing with it so far?

If you’d like help breaking it into segments and specific tasks, leave a little more detail and I’ll help you make a plan.

4 reasons why New Years Resolutions don’t work