Resolutions for the New Year – and Why You May Not Achieve Them

As humans, we have the best intentions when starting a new year.

“I’m going to lose 20 pounds!”

“I’m going to exercise 20 minutes every day!”

“I’m going to eat right!”

“I’m going to stop smoking!”

“I’m going to get to bed early and not stay up late!”

Perhaps you have at least one of those on your list for 2021.  Unfortunately, there are three things that are going to hold you back from achieving the goals you set for yourself.

1) Circumstances;

2) ALL of those things are necessary for a healthier lifestyle; and

3) You set the goal for yourself.

Circumstances are what they are.  Several years ago, the phrase of the year seemed to be “It is what it is.”  As an educator, if you’re up against a deadline, you have to get it done.  You expect your students to be attentive to deadlines, so you need to set the example.  Miss one deadline, and they’ll call you on it.

Because linear and process thinking are so thoroughly ingrained in our daily life and learning, we might want to have a healthier lifestyle and “take one step at a time.”  But if you look at those five items mentioned above, you’ll see that to have a healthier lifestyle you have to do ALL of them.  Therefore, your one goal has suddenly turned into 5…or 6, or 7… goals.  Sure, we might call them “objectives,” but even so, any consultant that you speak with will say you must “prioritize your objectives.”  Then we start thinking about what we can do first, and, when that gets to a certain point, then what’s the next most important item to tackle.  Guess what?  They’re ALL important!!  You have to do all of it – and therefore, you need to start everything at once, and do everything in moderation.  It’s systems thinking in action.

If the doctor tells you to change your lifestyle, or else you’ll be shortening your lifespan, there’s a 1 in 9 chance that you’ll actually take that advice. Check out for an eye-opening article that shows how our brain make us averse to change.  In fact, we resist achieving our goals if we’ve set them for ourselves.  So, if the doctor tells us to change, giving us 9 to 1 odds that we won’t, just imagine the odds if set our own goals – which is what resolutions really are.

Here’s a great article from Gregory Ciotti from a few years back regarding how our brains stop us from achieving our goals:  Even though it seems the word “from” was omitted from the title of the article (along with some improper word usage), it highlights some of the results of recent brain research…the same kind of research that says that music education will help students excel.

And there’s probably that same 1 in 9 chance that those who favor cutting music and music education programs will change their minds about it too, even when presented overwhelming convincing evidence.