So You’ve Already Broken a Resolution

Now what?

Posted Jan 02, 2017

Henri Bernard, Public Domain
Source: Henri Bernard, Public Domain

So you’ve already joined the Broken Resolution Club. Is it time to accept that resolutions get broken so you might as well kick back and down a brewski?

Maybe, but let’s take another shot at it.

Was your resolution too big? Even if you need to lose 100 pounds, that goal may feel like a long-shot or certainly a long way away. How about just aiming to eat 1200 calories today? Hopefully, you’ll get on the scale tomorrow and be a ½ pound lighter which might motivate you to try for another day. Or if you're a daily drinker or smoker, want to try skipping a day? Or how about that pigsty of yours? Want to clean one corner of one room?

Was your resolution not motivating enough? Perhaps you decided that on Jan 1, you’d start looking for a better job. But maybe you’re just not unhappy enough on your current job to go through the usually big-time pain of trying to find a better one. Want to pick a resolution you’re more motivated to keep and that doesn’t feel so daunting? For example, want to try to commit to reading one professional article per day? Or, at least for today, accept rather the criticize your sweetheart’s likely immutable bad habit? 

Was your resolution too hard to change? I could resolve to be more laid back but my intensity feels hard-wired. I’ve tried endlessly to be more normal but it’s never worked. There’s no reason to think that if I resolved it yet again this New Year’s Day that I wouldn’t be back to my usual self on Jan 2. What would be easy for you to change? One example: You promise yourself that today, every time you think of that past trauma, you’ll distract yourself by saying, “What’s the next positive step I could take?”

Prospects boosters

So fine, you’ve revised your resolution or simply decided to give your original one another go. Might any of these increase your chances of staying on the wagon at least a little longer?

Remind yourself of the most compelling benefit and liability of keeping your resolution. Let’s say you’d like to give it one more big try to meet Mr./Ms. Right. Perhaps your biggest benefit would be that you’d have someone to cuddle-talk with every night and the biggest liability of not finding Mr/Ms Right is that you’d risk becoming homeless.

Write your resolution on your palm and read it aloud—with expression--every time you take a drink. It’s hard to forget your resolution if you do that.

Tell your resolution to all your LinkedIn connections, Facebook “Friends,” and real friends. Think of how embarrassing it would be to trumpet your resolution on Jan 2 only to, on Jan 3, admit you’ve already blown it. You would tell them that wouldn’t you?

The takeaway

Do remember that just because you fell off the New Year’s Resolution wagon on Jan 2 doesn’t mean you can’t climb on again--as long as the goal feels worthwhile and doable. I’m betting that after some off-the-wagon/on-the-wagon cycles, you’ll stay on.

Career and personal coach Marty Nemko’s book, The Best of Marty Nemko is just out in its 2nd edition. You can reach him at