12 ways to Sabotage New Year’s resolutions


There are hundreds of articles out there about how to keep New Year’s resolutions. This isn’t one of them. This is about getting out of the ones you already made.

Lots of people make New Year’s resolutions, we feel we have to. But then the next morning we wish we had never said that. Here are some easy ways to make sure that your New Year’s resolution ends up in the dust and ensure that no one blames you for not living up to your promises.

1. Set huge impossible large goals. Despite not exercising for the last  60 years or so and having given up my photograph efforts in the late 1970’s, this year I plan to make a film chronicling my success at winning twelve different gold medals in sports I had not previously played. Who could blame me for not keeping that one? The key here is to not plan to do anything, just plan to somehow have achieved the goal without effort.

2. Do not write down your goals or tell anyone. Writing things down leaves evidence. You might be tempted to look at you goals during the year. If you can’t remember what you planned to do how can it be your fault? Telling someone only expands the conspiracy. If you don’t tell, they won’t ask. People who blab their resolutions fell obliged to work on them.

3. Hang out with the losers. If you hang out with successful people you might emulate them. Want to avoid weight loss? Hang out at the donut shop or a buffet; better yet look up a donut buffet.

4. Resolve to change someone else. This is a favorite one which works every time. Plan to change your children or your spouse. Who could blame you if your family does not change? It was certainly your ex’s fault or maybe the fault of those rotten kids, wherever they are these days.

5. Embrace boredom. If it is fun don’t do it. Make resolutions to do boring, painful things not something you might actually get to like if you tried it. Nothing will squash a resolution faster than a good reason to avoid it in the first place.

6. Bet the farm on this one. If you are going to not do something, don’t do something big. Make your resolution so huge that your family might end up homeless if you did not carry through. Who could argue with you giving up your dream for the safety of your family? Doing a series of small things might actually be doable and then you would be stuck with a string of successes. Nothing ends your streak of failures like a small unsuspected success.

7. Test yourself constantly. This works well for alcoholics, who test themselves by buying alcohol and hanging out in bars. If your resolution had to do with food, go shopping and fill the house with your favorite foods. Then check the cupboard or the fridge often just to reassure yourself you have not eaten them – yet. Test yourself often enough you are sure to fail.

8. Don’t worry about being emotional. Watch sad movies and cry. Pick lots of fights. Argue with everyone you can. After an emotional day like that, you are sure to not have the energy needed to work on any stupid resolution. Happiness is incompatible with failure. Laughter can ruin a well thought out sorry-for-yourself binge. Stay moody.

9. Stop sleeping. Stay up all night every night and then sleep all day. Worry about your exercise plan, make a list of things you can’t buy. Lack of sleep will make you irrational but who can blame a half-crazed person for shopping online all night.

10. Give up all friends. Nothing so ensures your failure at resolutions as being totally isolated from all human contact. Quit your job, fight with your spouse till they leave and hang up on your friends. People who are all alone should not be expected to be a success at anything, right?

11. Don’t eat. Being really eat-a-bear hungry can make you grouchy enough to not only stop trying but to be able to tell anyone still talking to you to put that resolution where the moonshine doesn’t- whatever.

12. If you tried before and failed don’t try again. Some people keep trying. If they keep that up they risk an eventual success. Smokers have an edge here. Most need to try to quit five to seven times so they get to talk about their try’s three or four times before giving up. Be careful though if you try too many times you might just end up making that change.

Well, I hope that this was helpful to all of you who are trying to avoid carrying through on your New Year’s resolutions. You could use this at other times of the year for any other change you are avoiding. Despite all my good advice some of you will try to make and keep New Year’s resolutions. Those of you who are successful will probably have passed through the series of steps we call “Stages of Change.” I see some of my former students smiling at that. They knew I couldn’t slip by mentioning the “Stages of Change.”

Spoiler alert – In a future blog I plan to write about how it is that people who attempt changes really do go about doing it successfully. Some of you are anticipating me and are inferring that real change rarely comes from one time resolutions and may involve a series of steps which we counselors like to term “Stages of Change.” If you prefer making resolutions and then not keeping them, avoid those blog posts.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog, there is also a Facebook authors page, in its infancy, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. Thanks to all who read this blog.

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