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How to Cure Your New Year’s Resolution Hangover

By Dave Fox
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
January 6, 2016

I woke up today and was hit with the same revelation that strikes me every year around this time – New Year’s resolutions are idiotic. And yeah, I’m telling you this even though a big part of my job involves inspiring people to achieve their goals.

2016: Year of the Monkey!

2016: Year of the Monkey!

Here’s the problem: For many of us, the big winter holidays are insane. Oh, sure, we get to hang out with our Weird Uncle Smedley, and witness spontaneous boxing matches at shopping mall cash registers. That’s always fun. We get to eat, drink, and sleep in ways we don’t do everyday. We get a break from our everyday drudgery. So the holidays are often a good kind of insane but they are still insane. Throw a plane ride into the mix and you get bonus insanity.

New Year’s Eve arrives and we have the big countdown.

Then comes New Year’s Day and we wake up wondering why we’re wearing someone else’s purple sequined leg warmers. (Did Weird Uncle Smedley give them to us? We can’t remember.)

Then comes January 6, and in spite of our new attire, we feel like failures because we have already faltered from our new year’s resolutions to exercise more, eat less, journal daily, and stop wearing sequins.

Big holidays are great (except when they’re not) but they deplete us of energy. It’s not always realistic to plow into the first week of the year expecting a burst of hyper-productivity. We’re exhausted. We need a nap before we can accomplish anything coherent.

The first couple of weeks of the year should be spent catching our breath, not beating ourselves up for the things we haven’t yet started accomplishing. We’ve got 50 good weeks ahead of us.

I’m telling you this because over the next few weeks, many people will lament that their New Year endeavors, and intertwined self-esteem, have already flopped.

Publicly, they will joke: “New year’s resolutions are made to be broken! Ha-HAAAAA!”

Privately, they will dub 2016 an early failure.

But their only “failure” so far is they haven’t given themselves time to catch their breath.

Write Your Way Back On Track

If you’re one of the masses whose resolutions already seem to be fizzling, here’s a quick journaling exercise to keep things on a successful and realistic track so you’ll still do cool, incredible things this year.

  1. Write down a resolution one big thing you hope to accomplish this year.
  2. Write down the way(s) you’ve either floundered so far or might flounder in the next couple of weeks.
  3. Write down the reasons for the aforementioned floundering. Give this one a couple of minutes of thought. It might be that you’ve been overscheduled or exhausted this week. It might be that insecurity or perfectionism are stopping you from starting. Or perhaps Uncle Smedley hasn’t gone home yet.
  4. Whatever your reasons for not flying out of the gate, ask yourself whether they are valid. Post-holiday fatigue is valid. Fix it by taking a few days to breathe first. An overloaded schedule? Also valid. Fix it by journaling about what’s really important and what you need to stop doing. Fear and insecurity? Again, for starters, breathe. Then write about whether your perfectionism is actually doing you any good. (If it’s leaving you frozen with fear, it isn’t. Give yourself permission to be an imperfect human.) Oh, and Weird Uncle Smedley? You’ve been very nice to him but it’s time for him to go home now.
  5. Open up your calendar. Find a day in early February when you can set aside some time to work on your goal. Block that time on your calendar and do not cancel your appointment with yourself unless it is a real emergency. (If you’re reading this article in a month other than January, you do not have to wait till next February.)
  6. Hooray! You have a start date! Between now and then is your time to be sneaky. Find a few moments – some quick five-minute bursts – to make small, preliminary steps toward your goal. Now, when February rolls around, you’ll have a head start.

The point here is: Plunge in after life settles down. If the holidays have left you exhausted, physically or emotionally, tiptoe gently into your goals for the new year. Don’t try to run a marathon without stretching first.

If you need you’re having trouble writing down a strategy to follow though, or you want someone to hold you accountable, send me an e-mail. Tell me what your goal is and what seems difficult about achieving it. I might include your e-mail in an article or video next month, but if you’d like to remain anonymous, just let me know.

Writing down your goals and finding people to help keep you on track greatly improves your chances of making them happen. So hey, whether you’re already on a roll or you need a little encouragement, I’d love to hear what everybody’s big personal dream is for 2016. (Or whatever year it happens to be when you read this.)


Want to become a better writer in 2016? Hop on the express train to writing success with my big sale on writer coaching. There are only a few spots left! Or sign up for one of my fun and informative online writing classes. You can do them at your own pace, whenever you have time.

Published on Wednesday, January 6, 2016

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