Nonprofit Leadership: Why New Year's Resolutions are ridiculous and harmful

Lots of us are making New Year’s resolutions over the next week. Most of us won’t fulfill them. Those goals will be forgotten before the beads of Mardi Gras fall or the green beer of St. Patrick’s day is drunk (hey I live in St. Louis, these are big holidays for us!). So why do we make them? Resolutions are ways to focus on bettering our lives. That’s a great thing. The reason they don’t work is because we haven’t changed our mindset, only our behaviors. And when we slip back into known behavior, we stop the change we seek for a whole year!

What if we made monthly resolutions instead of yearly?

If you want to get fit, and you start at the gym in January and fade by the end of the month, you can reset yourself for February. If you want to increase your business income or decrease your cigarette smoking, why wait until the end of the year for the calendar to give you permission to do that? Do it any day or month you want.

What if we lived on a rolling calendar that allowed us a reset every month, not every year. Mark LeBlanc, business coach, is a huge proponent of this in work and life. He says to manage your business and your life with a rolling calendar so you can make improvements each month.

He teaches daily activity with a reset every day. Mark taught me to make one prospect call a day. If I miss one, I can’t do two the next day. if I make two calls today, I still have to make one tomorrow. One call, each day. If you want to walk 30 minutes a day and you miss a day, reset. Don’t do 60 minutes tomorrow or bank time from yesterday. Each day is a reset.

Man, that’s glorious. What freedom! What forgiveness! I am working on meditating 10 minutes each day. If this was my New Year’s resolution and I thought that if I missed a few days, then I blew the resolution, I would have quit. I give myself a reset each day. If I miss a day, no problem, I will do it tomorrow. I have been gradually moving to 10 minutes a day. I am building toward success, not demanding success from the onset.

Changing habits takes a few tries because it requires a change in mindset. The stops and starts are how we learn what works and what doesn’t. So make a monthly resolution and give yourself a daily reset. Every day is the opportunity to live a fuller life. You have 365 days to make changes, not just one.

Maryanne Dersch