Top 7 New Year’s Resolution Traps to Avoid

January 3, 2012  |  
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Here comes 2012. Around this time of year, people start thinking very fondly about the months ahead, fantasizing how they’re going to begin anew, taking life in bold new directions. It’s a joyous time and because of that, our aspirations get a bit lofty. Now there’s nothing wrong with aiming high, but it should be done without setting yourself up for a massive fail.

Some scrap new years resolutions altogether because so often, they fall flat. But it isn’t the resolution, or the spirit of fresh new changes that plague your success. It’s your lack luster approach. Unrealistic expectations, sloppy planning and vague goals make New Years resolutions nothing more than wishful thinking.

By managing your expectations, establishing a plan and setting crystal clear goals, you can avoid the common New Years resolution traps many people fall into and go HAM all year.

Here are ways to overcome the top 7 New Years resolution traps:

“This year, I’m going to travel”

If you’ve been stuck at home far too often this year, you may have aspirations of hitting the road or climbing in a jet to travel in 2012. Sounds nice, but don’t leave it at a whimsical, “I’m going to travel more next year,” or you’ll be singing the same song come this time next year.

Get specific with a list of destinations you’d love to see. Go crazy, the more the merrier. Next, cross off all those destinations you can’t afford to hit with a few months savings. They’re not realistic this time around.

Set two dates in 2012: the deadline to book your trip and the vacation itself. Then it’s time to crunch the numbers on all your potential destinations.

Have fun.

“This year, I’m going to meet someone special.”

Everyone’s special. Didn’t you get that memo?

Here’s why this resolution sucks: (A) it’s fuzzier than a bootleg movie, (B) it’s based on factors you cannot control and (C) you’re probably going to go about it all wrong anyway.

Why not spend the energy, time and money you would trying meet someone special and enrich yourself. When you work on becoming a more special person, you are guaranteed to be happier with your life and as a result, will pull a better dude.

“I need a man,” thinking often attracts the lowest common denominator. If you really want to meet someone special, you’ll have to do better.

“I’m going to hit the gym more this year.”

No you’re not. No one ever hits the gym more. They go as much as they do, and that’s it. Gym usage is based on the time you have available to make it and your level of enjoyment. Unless either of those things increase automatically when the ball drops,  you’ll be going to the gym next year as much as you do right now. You’ll also keep wasting money just like you do right now.

Forget the gym trap and focus on what you hoped to get out of the experience in the first place. If it’s losing weight, zero in on your diet and cut out high calorie foods. If you can’t make this simple lifestyle change, you’ll be wasting time in the gym anyway.

If you’re looking to tone up, there are dozens of physical activities you can get into that don’t involve free weights and treadmills. Find an activity that’s rewarding and convenient, then do it as much as you can stand every week. You’ll look and feel better in no time.

“I’m going to get a better job this year.”


This is easier than it sounds. That’s why so many resolutions revolving around this idea fail. A job is something that someone else has to give you. Unless you have a short list of people that are willing to do that, it may easily never happen.

Opportunity is something you can be ready for without anyone granting you the privilege. First, decide what a “better” job means, then spend your time and energy devoted to preparing yourself for that next opportunity. Use every tool at your disposal to get ready for what you want next, especially your current gig.

“I’m saving more money this year”

After disaster struck the nation on 9/11, President George Bush appeared on TV to restore confidence in the people by encouraging the masses to buy and spend, not save and invest. You live in a frivolously consumerist nation, which means when it comes to saving, all the chips are stacked against you.

Drastic measures are required to avoid this trap. Start by finding a saving mechanism that removes your decision-making from the process. Use automatic, high-interest savings accounts that siphon money digitally from your bank account or employer-sponsored flexible spending plans for pre-tax spending.

“I’m going to spend more time with friends/family.”

Some people aren’t particularly sentimental, others are better at showing love from a distance. At some point, you’ll have to face the fact that you’re one of those people. Besides that, there are probably formidable barriers preventing you from spending a ton of time with family and friends i.e. distance, work, need for sanity.

Rather than making a commitment that’s inconvenient or challenging to honor, work to fit things into your schedule. Invite a group of family and friends together.

Host a gathering of friends at a bar or restaurant, or open up your home for one of the upcoming holidays. Don’t compete for one of the big ones either, go for a holiday no one cares about and don’t typically have plans for, like Groundhogs Day.


“I’m going to quit smoking/drinking etc.

Maybe you’re going for a cleanse, maybe bad habits are having a detrimental affect on you/your loved one’s life. Whatever your inspiration for wanting to quit is, it’s worth a more concerted effort than most resolutions come with.

Get support for your goals. If quitting is something you could do on your own, you probably would have done it by now. Share your goals with family/friends, join support groups or seek help from professional counselors.

Resist the urge to go cold turkey. It’s not for everyone. Studies by the American Cancer Society hold that it is successful for fewer than 5% of smokers. Work towards your goal gradually, confidently and with the support of others. As you get closer to kicking the habit, envision how much better life becomes when you finally quit.


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