Suppose you say to yourself, “That's it. This year, I will exercise every day.” January first rolls around and you put in your time. You keep things up until a month or two. Then you miss a day. Oh, well – it was only one day. But one day is sometimes all it takes for your determination to take a hit. Once your clean record slips, you lose motivation. You begin to think: “Well, I can't say that I kept my resolution every day.” Soon, you miss another day, then another. Before you know it, your New Year's resolution has gone out the window. You say to yourself, “At least I tried. And there's always next year.” Or if you are a pessimist, you are disappointed and think, “Sure enough, I couldn't stick with it. I thought that would happen.” You might even fall further behind and end up worse than you were at the time you first made that resolution.
Should we set personal goals for ourselves if we have a good chance of going back on them? I am no stranger to the ups and downs of New Year's resolutions; I have done my share of breaking them. But I still believe that they are worth making. Each new year is a clean slate, full of possibility and hope. When you set a resolution for yourself, you are full of hope that things can improve in your life. I think we all could use more of this optimism.
Now, I am not suggesting that we should put on rose-colored glasses and ignore the fact that most New Year's resolutions do not stick. But instead of throwing in the towel if we break one of our resolutions, perhaps it would help to think: “Okay, so I slipped up. Well, next month starts in three days. Game on.”