3 Reasons to Give Up on Your New Year’s Goal

A Production of the Ultimate Homeschool Podcast Network.

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What a weird headline for a New Year’s blog post, right? Give up on your goal before you even get started? You may have a goal that doesn’t fit the criteria below, and if that’s true, carry on! I wish you well. But if you can answer yes to any of the three questions I have for you, consider giving up the goal now.

1. Is the Behavior Required to Meet Your Goal Unsustainable?

You can stick with that low-carb diet, the twice-a-day workouts, and the all-day school schedule in the short-term. But how long will it take before you hate the process and give up?

If what is required to meet your goal isn’t something you can live with long-term, you will not only give up on your goal, but you’ll have a harder time achieving the goal in a more reasonable fashion later on. Overly strict dieting has been linked to weight gain, not loss, for example.

If you can admit right now that going without sugar for the rest of your life is not something you can live with, ask yourself what is? Could you exchange one soda or treat a day for something else you enjoy that has less sugar? Modify the rules for achieving your goal until you can say yes to a long-term commitment, or give it up right now. You’ll be better off.

2. Does the Goal Come from a Place of Self-Loathing?

If you are disgusted with yourself–your eating, your shopping, your time management–you’re likely to choose a punishing path to get yourself to your goal. To make matters worse, you’re unlikely to give yourself credit for changes you make. You’ll tell yourself you should have been doing the right things all along, kicking yourself for past mistakes.

This type of goal tends to come with a lot of internal name-calling: “You’re gross! You’re lazy! You’re pathetic!” It’s like hiring a harsh coach to get us on track. Initially, just like the unsustainable program, it will work. But we will soon be sick of the mean coach we’ve become. We know this coach doesn’t really love us, so we will cut her loose. We give up the goal and feel like even more of a loser.

If you know your goal of filling one trash bag a day with your stuff doesn’t come from a place of self-love, could you focus on 5-minute tasks that make your life easier? Become an encouraging coach focused on helping yourself take baby steps, or give up the goal right now. You’ll feel better about yourself.

3. Does Your Goal Require Extraordinary Willpower That You Haven’t Had Before?

If you have to white knuckle it, summoning willpower that has never been available to you in this area of your life, you’re likely to fail with the goal. If you have a strong desire to shop for curriculum you don’t need, for example, you can exercise self-control in the short-term. You’ll delete the email, unfollow curriculum groups on Facebook, and tell friends you’re happy with your choices when they talk about their latest finds. But then you’re listening to a podcast and hear about something completely new and amazing. It won’t do any harm to check it out, right?

Like a goal that requires unsustainable behavior, you’re likely to give up on willpower goals quickly. When the excitement of New Year’s fades, when you’re tired, or when the unexpected stresses you out, your willpower will fail you. Even when we ask God to give us more willpower, we will quickly find our reserves have run dry.

If you know your goal relies on your own willpower, ask God to change your desires instead. Meditate on Scripture and read Sidetracked in the Wildnerness. If you don’t want unnecessary curriculum, a second helping, or the dopamine hit you get from social media, you won’t need more willpower. The added benefit is you will recognize how much God loves you right where you are and how powerful He is to help you. If you won’t trust God with your goal, you’ll be better off giving it up now–at least until you’re ready to wave the white flag and ask Him to take over.


My prayer is that God would get the glory as you find yourself transformed by the love of God this year.

If you have a goal of getting organized or being more productive this year, my books The Organized Homeschool Life and A Year of Living Productively will give you a sustainable plan.

Melanie Wilson is the host of The Homeschool Sanity Show and the author of Grammar Galaxy language arts curriculum.

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