New Year’s Resolutions are traps: Set value-based goals

Let’s face it. New Year’s resolutions are traps. They get you all excited in the last week of December then crash and burn within days of the new year. You think “new year, new me” with your toilet paper roll list of things that you’re gonna change. Fast forward two days into your “new you” and you’re still the exact same person you were 72 hours ago!

It was over before it even began.

New Year’s resolutions are misleading, love. They set you up for failure the moment that you start thinking about them. You hoped, like we did with the pandemic, that the electric buzz of 2021 would change things. But instead, reality set in: momentum is needed to create the long-lasting change you’re looking for.

Then to pour salt in a festering wound, you see your friends and family members sticking to their resolutions! From afar, it looks like they’re striving and killing it which leaves you wondering if something is wrong with you. Like why’s it so easy for them to get their act together? Of course, what they don’t tell you is that they 1. Are one day away from putting that resolution back on the shelf for the next year or 2. They laid a foundation to make it easier for them to uphold their resolutions.

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Results-based resolutions 

The issue with resolutions is that they tend to gear towards accomplishments and end results. There is a lot that we can do to achieve results-based goals but we don’t always have complete control over them. If last year you had a goal to travel more and see your family and friends often, well, the pandemic put a halt to that real quick…so it was gonna be hard for you to follow through on those goals.

Results-based goals also:

  1. Overshadow the hard work and effort you put in. Say for example, you have a goal to learn to do the splits in 2 months. If you don’t reach it by then, you might overlook all of the progress you make. It’s either you did it completely or you didn’t do anything at all.
  2. Encourage you to put a time frame on your goal when you don’t need one. Yes, it’s useful to instill urgency because it takes away the analysis paralysis factor and reduces the tendency to procrastinate. But your goal is still worth completing even if you don’t get it done within the set time frame. 
  3. Take you out of the present moment, the only time that’s guaranteed. Since the results are what you’re focused on, you might disregard the journey itself. All you can think about is where you still need to go. 
  4. Tempt you to move the goalposts or delay your desire to complete the goal. It’s really easy to stick with something when it’s relatively easy to accomplish. When the going gets tough though, you need all the energy you can muster to see your goal to completion. If you start your goal and get discouraged along the way, you may put the goal off for ‘a better time’ and 9/10 there isn’t one. When we set a goal, we think about the results we want and less about what we need to truly get there.

There’s more than one of you in the mix  

You want to make realistic resolutions that both Present and Future you see as doable things to accomplish. If you’re not someone who regularly says “no” to the bajillion of favours and virtual events you get invited to, you can’t expect for Future you to have no problem with it. Disappointing people is not fun.

Action like that is a slow and gradual process that builds momentum. If you’re a night owl who wants to wake up say, three hours earlier in the day, you are likely to be more successful if you plan ahead. A good night time routine and getting into bed earlier makes it easier for Future you to follow through. Without a plan, you run the risk of getting down on yourself for the thing that was never going to be successful consistently.

Chalk it up to your identity

The number one question you get to ask yourself to help make that long-lasting change is,  

WHO DO YOU WANT TO BE?

We live our lives based on our identities and our values. If you’re an organized person then your space is regularly tidied and your inbox isn’t overflowing with unread messages. But if you’re messy, it wouldn’t be surprising if you could never find what you’re looking for when you need it most. 

scale graphic - who you want to be , value-based goals

Your identities drive your actions

You will always find evidence to prove your beliefs and values, that’s what makes you YOU. When you ask yourself who you want to be, you tap into the characteristics and traits that describe:

  • Your personality
  • The way you live your life
  • The thoughts and feelings you have
  • The way you treat others
  • The way you view yourself and your capabilities

For example, people who view themselves as firm boundary setters, have no problem saying “no” as a full sentence. People-pleasers on the other hand, will find it difficult to set boundaries because they value making others happy at their own expense. If you’re in the people-pleasing boat, a value-based goal may be to embody someone who puts their wellbeing first. Just from doing that, you’ll see the tasks and obligations that’s best for you to let go of because they’re eating away your time and energy. 

Remember, you will find evidence to prove the identity and the value system you hold. If something isn’t in alignment with what you envisioned for yourself, it will be easier to stick to your goal of letting it go and vice versa. This also allows you to be in the moment more since it encourages you to regularly check on your wellbeing. 

Prepare for slow and steady progress

Of course, this change you’re looking for does not happen overnight BUT it will be long-lasting and self-preserving when you stick to the routine. It will always be worth the time and effort you invest into it. It’s going to be satisfying to see the progress you make every step of the way, how you can show up for yourself better than you have ever been able to before AND show up well for your people. Also, asking yourself every day, who you want to be gets you reacquainted with your why and your purpose. It’s like the days in grade school when you’d jump out of bed on the day of a field trip because you knew it was going to be a fun day. 


You get to have those days now, and they come frequently when you tap into the reason behind why you are who you are. In this frame of mind, there is no need to move goalposts because each step you take brings you closer to that version of you who thrives. That person already exists. You wouldn’t be able to conjure them up if they didn’t. You’re meant to shine, not just for your people but for yourself first and foremost. It is through you shining that you are able to be in your element to help others do the same.

Elle Rosher,

Mindset coach for people-pleasing women

Find me on instagram @ellerosher

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