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Are New Year’s Resolutions overrated?

Updated: Jan 29, 2023

We’re down to the last few days of January. By this time, you’re probably starting to think deleting those shopping apps was a bad idea. The early morning gym sessions in an effort to cut down the holiday weight gain, have now been replaced by an extra hour of sleep from binge-watching your favorite show the night before. And the holiday journal that you earned from collecting those stickers? Writing on it would have to be postponed indefinitely. Maybe it’s not even too late to sell them at half the price.

Let’s face it. Along with the hope that the new year brings is the overwhelming pressure of setting goals to start the year on a high. From creating new habits to letting go of bad ones, revisiting past goals and having the courage to declare, “this time, it will happen,” how important is it to set New Year’s resolutions?

I understand why the idea of “New Year’s Resolutions” could be daunting. I don’t think a change in the calendar year could change a person overnight. The disappointment that comes from seeing the clock ticking as days go by and seeing no apparent change in oneself is just as difficult to handle. So let me share with you 3 things that have helped me sustain the momentum throughout the year:

1. Focus on purpose.

Zach Mercurio said it best in his podcast episode: Leading with Purpose and Meaning (listen to this episode here: Setting goals creates that arrival fallacy - false hopes that when you do achieve something, then you will be happy. But truth be told, accomplishing a goal leaves you with an empty feeling which begs you to ask, “what now?”.

So instead of focusing on goals, focus on your purpose. Simply put, your purpose is your reason for being, and its focus is outside oneself. Purpose focuses on contribution, which optimizes our bodies to keep moving as it produces happy hormones. This is what gets you excited to get out of bed every morning. “Achievements come and go, but the ability to contribute to a human being is mostly available every single day” - Zach Mercurio.

To identify your purpose, first, identify your unique gifts, and see the impact it has on others. This then intersects with what you love to do, and how you can be paid for it. These 4 are what make up Ikigai, a Japanese concept that means “reason for being”.

2. Build small habits

Striving to get better 1% every day will lead to remarkable growth in the long run. James Clear, bestselling author of “Atomic Habits” shares that while goals are focused on results, our habits are focused on systems that will get us to those results. Let’s make your fitness goal an example. If you want to lose weight, try to put your jump rope beside your bed so that it’s the first thing you see the moment you wake up. Next, choose an exercise that you see yourself enjoying. Third, make it simple and easy to repeat on a daily basis. A few skips done daily would be better than a 30-minute routine that will never happen again. Lastly, treat yourself with a reward whenever you successfully perform a habit, such as watching an episode of your favorite show shortly after your routine.

3. Find an accountability buddy*.

When we rely on ourselves for accountability, it’s easier to go back to old habits and not find a compelling reason to keep growing. Being accountable to someone ensures that you stick to your habits no matter what. Choose an accountability buddy whom you feel safe to talk with regularly, who would constantly check on your progress, and who loves you enough to call you out when you need it.

*In case you still don’t have an accountability buddy for your personal and professional growth, The Leadership Project has a faculty of certified coaches who could keep you accountable for your progress. Send us a message at to get on a free discovery call with one of our coaches.

New Year’s Resolutions or not, all of these boil down to our innate need to live a life of significance. To know that what you do truly matters, and that people around you find meaning in what you do. 2023 will surely bring uncertainties that can shift your plans along the way. May it not distract you from living out your purpose.


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