When January resolutions go off the rails…

How to rescue those January goals

Did you know that approximately 80% of New Year resolutions fail by the second week of February? That’s an awful lot, isn’t it? However, recent events have had me thinking about ways to get those resolutions up and running again.

I’ve been a bit quieter than usual lately because I’ve caught a weird bug and been sick for a week and a half, and it made me think about how many other people get viruses and the like at this time of the year. This one’s been giving me chills, headaches, stomach pains and low energy – quite frankly my to-do list has not been getting to-done. Sound familiar?

Anyway, I slightly forgot that life gets in the way sometimes, germs included. Then I was offered a place on an evening course that was previously full, and there’s a fair amount of required reading. It was a good opportunity and I jumped at it, but it means I have less free time available for other things.

Here’s what my original plans were, and where there was room for improvement:

  • Finish 4 novels by the end of January – I’ve finished two, and now I’m on to book three.
  • Go to 7 yoga lessons – I managed six before I got the lurgy, might actually complete this one if I’m lucky (class tomorrow).
  • Have 20 vegan breakfasts, lunches and snacks before the end of the month – I already used my ‘get out of jail free’ card when we went out for our free lunch, still one more day to go…

While things haven’t exactly gone perfectly so far, it’s been an excellent reminder about the general principles of successful projects, including goal setting, scheduling, habit formation and motivation. Let’s get down to the nuts and bolts of it, and see about turning things around.


How to get those resolutions back on track

Yes, it can be done…

Some quick questions to ask yourself:

  • Have my priorities or circumstances changed since I made my resolutions?
  • Do I want this enough?
  • Were my plans specific?
  • Did I take on too many things at once?
  • How should I plan my new schedule?

Changing priorities & circumstances: Has anything changed, such as work or other commitments? If so, it’s time to make a change and schedule more time for the most important stuff.

Levels of motivation: Think about whether your original plans were things that you really, really wanted to do. If that’s still the case, try to push past the January bad weather and colds and flu season. If you’ve tailed off with an activity that has real meaning to you, maybe that’s just been a blip and you can still start again.

Specific plans: Vague plans such as ‘get fit’ or ‘learn Japanese’ are unlikely to succeed, and come to think about it you might not even realise if you have succeeded. Be more specific, such as ‘jog for half an hour, four mornings per week’, or ‘complete a short course on Japanese for beginners’.

Too many things at once: It’s human nature to want to change everything all at the same time, but that’s one reason that January resolutions are so hard to stick to – we just take on too many, and suddenly we’re overwhelmed and overloaded, and then often the whole thing falls apart. If it’s something difficult like giving up smoking, just concentrate on that for the time being.

Planning a revised schedule: Making a schedule makes it easier to succeed. Think about your specific goals and rank them in levels of importance, then get out your diary or planner and mark out enough time to get things done. You may have to drop one or two of them, at least in the short term, so that you can concentrate on the ones with the highest priority.

Just because your January perhaps hasn’t gone 100% to plan, that doesn’t mean that everything’s ruined – you can still do amazing things with the rest of 2018. Take a moment to pause, reflect and redraw those plans and you’ll soon be back up and running.


How’s your January been going? I’m looking forward to getting back to work fully tomorrow and I’ll be going to an exercise class in my lunch break too, but not overdoing it.


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