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  • Writer's pictureMargaret Nelson

Troubleshooting Your New Year's Resolutions

Remember how excited you were when you first decided to pursue a big goal? Maybe you decided to develop a consistent exercise routine and get back in shape. Or maybe you decided that you were finally going to learn Spanish to prepare for your dream trip to Mexico, the way you’ve always wanted to.

Regardless of your goal, you’re excited. You’re ready to tackle it. You can picture yourself succeeding, and it gives you the strength you need to stick with it. You’re willing to put in the work to achieve your goals, and you can’t wait to get started.

The day comes, and you finally get to work towards your goals. You knock it out of the park on your first day, and those early successes encourage you to keep going. Things are going well, and you couldn’t be happier with your progress.

A young teenage girl with blond curly hair is wearing a light pink sleeveless dress against a matching background. She has thrown silver, star-shaped confetti into the air, and she is smiling.
You have to celebrate your wins.

But one day, the novelty wears off, and life starts to get busy again. You feel yourself getting pulled in a million different directions. Your boss wants you to work overtime, your spouse needs you to cook dinner, your kids need to get to soccer practice and dance class, and the house is a mess. You try your best to juggle all of these demands. You’ve been looking forward to accomplishing this goal. There has to be a way to make this situation work, right? Eventually, though, you can’t do it anymore. You’re exhausted, and something has to give. Before you know it, your carefully-crafted goals get tossed aside.

Does this sound familiar to you? Maybe you’re not feeling motivated to work on your carefully-crafted New Year’s resolutions. It’s also possible that you’re overwhelmed and don’t know where to begin. Or maybe you don’t think it’s worth it to create a goal for 2021.

It’s perfectly natural to hit some bumps in the road, especially as you work towards long-term goals. If you want to stay on track, though, it’s important to know how to address these issues while they’re small, before they completely derail your efforts.

“But what if I don’t know how to get back on track?” you ask, “am I doomed to fail?”

A young girl is against a light blue-gray background. She's only visible from the waist up, she has straight brown hair, and she's wearing a white t-shirt. Her left arm is resting in a straight line on her abdomen, her right elbow is resting on her arm, and her pointer finger is resting against her chin. She has a questioning look on her face.
Am I doomed to fail?

Of course not! There is no shame in seeking help when things get hard. Today, I’m here to provide you with some guidance.

Here are some questions to ask yourself as you get back on track.

  1. Are you passionate about your goals? If you’re not passionate about your goal, then it will be harder to stay on track. For example, if you hate running, then a running-related New Year’s resolution probably isn’t for you. Think about what truly makes you happy. Do you enjoy arts and crafts? Exploring the great outdoors? Cooking? The more passionate you are about your goals, the easier it will be to accomplish them. If you don’t know what makes you happy, then consider exploring your interests. In the process, you will get to know yourself better. What have you always wanted to do? Is there something that you’ve always wanted to do but you never have time to do so? If so, make it your goal to try one or more new things this year.

  2. Are there any outside factors making it hard for you to stay motivated? Have your circumstances changed since you created your goals? If so, this can make it harder to stay on track. For example, if you lost your job or you have financial difficulties, it can be hard to focus on your goals. In some seasons of life, the best you can do is to survive. Your goals will still be there when you’re ready to work on them. If you have to set them aside for this season of life, that doesn’t mean that you failed. It takes strength to acknowledge and honor your boundaries. If you can’t find a way to make your goals fit into your life right now, then that is okay.

  3. Did your financial situation change? Like I mentioned in this article, you have to figure out how much money you’re able to spend on New Year’s Resolutions. If your goal is too expensive, then it will be a lot harder to follow through. For example, say that you wanted to get back in shape this year, so you decide to sign up for a gym membership. However, a few weeks into the new year, you lose your job, have your hours cut, or get laid off. What happens if you can no longer afford your membership? Well, you have a few options. There are less expensive gym memberships through municipal community centers that you can join. These are often far less expensive than private gyms. If your local community center is still too expensive, you can look into online workouts. There are paid online workout memberships, often for less than $100 a year. There are also free, high-quality workouts on YouTube. There are even no-jumping workout videos for people who have joint pain or live in an apartment. If you lost some or all of your income, get creative. Your goals shouldn’t break the bank.

  4. Are your goals realistic? If your situation does not allow you to accomplish your goals, then it will be harder to stay on track. For example, if you work full-time, then it will be harder to work towards big goals, such as finishing a degree. It is possible to do so, but it will take a lot of planning and time management. It might also mean that you need to break your goal into smaller steps. For example, if you want to earn your Bachelor's degree, then you might have to take only one or two classes a semester, instead of four or five. You might also want to enroll in an online-only program. It might take longer to earn your degree, but you will likely do so with less stress. You will be far more likely to reach your goal if you break it into smaller steps, instead of trying to do it all at once.

  5. Do you have enough time to devote to your goals? If you don’t have enough time, then it will be hard to complete them. However, with some planning and time management, it will be easier to find the time. For example, say you want to work out three times per week, but you work full time and have a family. It’s possible to do so, but it’s going to take some planning and organizing. Think of ways to be more efficient with your time. For example, is it possible to squeeze in a workout after you drop off your child at dance class? Is it possible to trade off chore responsibilities with your partner so that you can squeeze in a workout? Can you give up some of the time you spend on Social Media? Managing your time can help you stay on track.

  6. Are you ready to take on a New Year’s resolution? 2020 was a difficult year for so many people. As of this writing, we’re still trying to navigate one of the worst global crises in recent memory. Maybe you lost your job last year, and you’re trying to find a new one. Maybe you recovered from Covid-19 last year, and you’re still dealing with long-term side effects. Or maybe you lost a loved one to Covid-19, and you’re trying to process your grief. You might not be in the right mindset to take on another challenge. And that’s okay. Sometimes, the most productive thing that we can do is rest because it gives our bodies and minds time to recover. Once we’re rested, it’s a lot easier to get things done. Don’t be afraid to put your New Year’s resolutions on hold until later in the year. Depending on your circumstances, you might not be ready to tackle another challenge this year. And that’s okay. If all you can do is survive, then that’s fine. Your goals will be there when you’re ready.

  7. Are your goals too big? If your goal is too big, it can be harder to stay on track because you don’t know where to begin. If you’re overwhelmed by your goal, then that’s a sign that you need to break it down into smaller pieces. For example, let’s say you want to earn your bachelor’s degree this year. That’s a big, long-term goal to achieve. Before you start, you need to research schools and compare programs. How much will each program cost? How long will it take to complete it? How much financial aid can you get from each program? Can the credits be transferred to another institution if necessary? Once you decide on a school, you need to apply, meet with academic advisors, and sign up for classes. Dividing your goal into smaller steps will help you to make progress.

  8. Are your goals too small? On the other hand, you don’t want your goal to be too small. If it’s too small, you might get bored and give up. If you find that your goal is boring, think of ways to challenge yourself. For example, let’s say that your goal last year was to get into shape. You persevered in that goal, and you now run two miles three days a week. That used to be a challenge for you, but that is no longer true. If that’s the case, you can increase your distance by running three miles each time. You could also try to increase your speed and run a couple of miles in less time. You could even decide to pursue a non-fitness-related goal instead, one that would be more challenging. Regardless of what you do, make sure your goal is comfortably challenging. You don’t want it to be so easy that you become bored after a couple of weeks. At the same time, you don’t want it to be so hard that you get discouraged and give up. It may take some tweaking and experimentation, but make sure your goal is challenging you the right amount.

  9. Do you have anyone to keep you accountable? Last but not least, if you don't have someone to keep you accountable, then it can be hard to accomplish your goals. If you want to learn a new language, taking a class is a great way to keep yourself motivated and accountable. Classes help you to block out time on your schedule. They can also help you prioritize the studying and preparations you need to make in between class sessions. At ReDefiners World Languages, we offer language classes in English, Spanish, Mandarin, and Arabic. We offer all classes online and in-person. If you like working in a group, our group classes can fit your needs. If you need individualized instruction, then take advantage of our one-on-one classes.

So if you find yourself getting off track with your New Year’s resolutions, don’t despair. All is not lost. You only need to do a little bit of digging to figure out what is going on. It might be that your situation has changed, and you need to adjust your expectations for what you can accomplish in this season of life. It might be that you need accountability. It might even be that your goal is too big or small, or that you aren’t ready to tackle a New Year’s resolution yet. If any of these things describe you, then that’s okay. It doesn’t mean that you’ve failed. If you can, try adjusting your New Year’s resolutions. If not, it’s okay to delay working on them until it makes more sense to take them on. Knowing how to troubleshoot your goals and get back on track will ensure that you can succeed on your timetable.

This is a picture of an African-American woman sitting on a black stool against a white background. She has short, straight, thick black hair. She's wearing a blue shirt with a white top over it, and she's earing blue jeans.
Success is within reach.

Are you interested in learning a new language in 2021? ReDefiners World Languages offers classes in English, Spanish, Mandarin, and Arabic. We offer online and in-person classes, as well as group and individual classes, for kids and adults. Our classes are designed to teach you about the language, as well as the culture and influences. For more information about our classes, please visit or email us at

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