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Why 1st January is the worst time of the year to set your New Year’s resolution

Why 1st January is the worst time of the year to set your New Year’s resolution

If your New Year’s resolutions have already fallen by the wayside, then take heart and stop beating yourself up. You are in the majority as between 81% and 92% of people give up before the end of the month.

The odds are against us so why are we making life so hard for ourselves and putting on the pressure to set goals on 1st January when the majority of us are unlikely to achieve and could possibly end up feeling worse.

Here at HPD we are all about embracing failure, learning the lesson and ensuring we don’t make the same mistake again.

Why you shouldn’t set goals on January 1st?

According to my research, these are the top 5 reasons why January is the worst time of year to set personal development goals:

1.     You’ve probably spent the previous two weeks in the run up to January 1st out of your normal daily routine so suddenly trying to add a new daily routine such as exercising daily, or quitting sugar can lead to quick failure.

Tip: Move the start date to 1st April.  This represents the start of Spring and your motivation is likely to be higher.

2.    Everyone else is doing it so we feel pressure to conform. Don’t be a lemming and follow the rest of the crowd (the majority of whom are going to fail and why would you set yourself up for failure) give yourself a break.

Tip: Be more selfish.  Do what works for you rather than conforming to the majority.  

3.    It’s the middle of winter, willpower is weak and the temptation to hibernate or spend the chilly evenings sitting by a fire with a nice glass of red and the remains of the Quality Street tin is very appealing.

Tip: Spend those cold winter nights planning your new behaviours and how you will embed these new habits and behaviours to give yourself the best possible chance of success.

4.     The master of habit and behavioural change, James Clear, believes the problem is that we are outcome focussed because we want our new behaviours to deliver new results. Unfortunately, new goals don’t deliver new results, new lifestyles do and a lifestyle is not an outcome, it is a process.

Tip: work on your environment first. If you are trying to cut out sugar, having cupboards full of sweets and cakes is not going to help your efforts.

5.     A sense of deprivation. After a month of indulgence during December the last thing you are likely to feel is deprivation if anything, we probably feel like we’ve overdone it. Don’t bank on your self-discipline to magically kick in. You might last a couple of days but many people are so overcome with the feeling of deprivation when they start and begin to resent the rules we’ve imposed on themselves.

Tip: Start off with simple small habits. For example, rather than aiming for 50 push ups a day aim for 10 and work from there.

How can High Performance Development help?

Do you need guidance on setting your goals? Looking for personal development support for yourself or your team? Get in touch with High Performance Development on +44(0)1329 836 647 or drop us an email to

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