The Upside of Breaking Your New Year's Resolution

Just because you slipped up and ate that donut, smoked that cigarette or skipped that workout, doesn't mean all is lost. Failure is part of the process. So is recovery.
01/21/2016 02:55 pm ET Updated Jan 21, 2017

"New Year, new you?" Not so fast. It's only two weeks into January and many have already abandoned their New Year's resolutions. Please stop beating yourself up.

Just because you slipped up and ate that donut, smoked that cigarette or skipped that workout, doesn't mean all is lost.

Failure is part of the process. So is recovery.

According to research, putting all your eggs in the New Year's basket can backfire:

When you tie your behavioral change to a specific date, you rob yourself of an opportunity to fail and recover, to "fail better." If you believe that you can only change on the New Year -- the inherent message of New Year's resolutions -- you will have to wait a whole year before you get another shot.

Learning to "fail better" will help you succeed. This is an opportunity to figure out why the resolution didn't stick in the first place. Was it too abstract? Too strict? Is it something you want or something someone else wants for you? Be honest. Come up with a new strategy. Learn what works and what to avoid.

Instead of tying an abstract goal like "I want to get healthy" to a specific date like New Year's or your birthday, choose a specific time-limited activity you will engage in for one week. "I will get off the subway one stop earlier for the next week" is an example of a specific change you can make if you are trying to build more activity into your day.

Forget New Year's resolutions. Every day is an opportunity to make a change.

Remember:

Failures are finger posts on the road to achievement. - C.S. Lewis

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