Resolve What? Your Guide to Navigating New Year’s Resolutions

by Tommy Grant

The textbook definition of a New Year’s resolution is a promise to do something differently in the new year. Sounds easy enough, especially if you’re doing it for good reasons, right? So, why is it so hard to stick to these annual promises we make to ourselves? Sometimes, it seems as though the odds of keeping any of your New Year’s resolutions are slimmer than my chances of taking Sigourney Weaver out on a date. (Don’t tell me there’s not still hope!)

Planning Out Your New Year’s Resolutions

There is a high rate of failure of New Year’s resolutions (upwards of 80%, according to the internet). This is perhaps because what most people come up with are asinine, hypocritical, unrealistic, and too-nonspecific instances of wishful thinking.

Many resolutions are utterly beyond what any one person could reasonably assume is within their power, anyway. Others lack anything resembling logical steps that could possibly lead to success. Even if the people making these resolutions had a fraction of the willpower and follow-through necessary to get anywhere close to their goals.

Not only is almost every resolution a complete waste of that person’s time, but they are also a waste of the time of everyone within earshot of that person. I could not care less about the new diet you’ve seen on Pinterest. Nor do I care about the “endless research” you’ve done on CrossFit gyms within a 5-mile radius of your house.

It’s not so much that I am heartless (which I totally resolve to work on this year). Rather, when people say they are going to make major changes in their lives, I just don’t believe them.

I have enough ammunition in my corner to say that people rarely change. And only a handful of exceptions have proved me wrong thus far. (And for those people, I am very happy.)

Really, the best someone can do is to work steadily on bettering themselves a little bit at a time in the hope of rounding out some of their rough edges along the way.

Come On! Show Some Commitment

I would bet that everyone heard someone at a holiday party say something like, “I’m going to eat healthier” or “I’m going to exercise more.”

Whoever says such things is not only unmotivated, they have also proved that they are unbelievably uncreative! Rather than turning to Google for ideas for changing your life, really take a moment to think about what it is you are hoping to get out of your experience of the upcoming year.

And please, stay as far away as you can from the following “classic” top-5 resolutions:

  1. I will eat better.
  2. I will exercise more.
  3. I will improve my finances.
  4. I will learn a new language.
  5. I will read more …

… or my all-time favorite self-delusion, “I’m going to quit smoking.”

Please, it took me over 10 years to quit smoking. And when I finally did, it was April, not January—no foolin’!

Are you going to quit smoking? Again?

The above resolutions are simply far too vague. And that’s why so many people fail at keeping them even for the first month of the new year. Let alone the entire year. Successful resolutions need to be much smaller, or else they will be too intimidating to sustain.

When people say they are going to exercise more, they visualize having six-packs by the end of the year. And realistically, that will never happen!

When people say they will master a new language, they see themselves as paid interpreters by the Fourth of July. Also highly unlikely!

Instead, if you really want to change who you are, start small and work diligently toward those little, incremental victories that will eventually add up to real change.

Creative Resolutions Are More Meaningful

As far as meaningful New Year’s resolutions go, there are thousands of great options to consider. So, don’t box yourself into a corner with these waste-of-time, cookie-cutter Hallmark pledges. Really think about what drives you, and let that be the motivator to do something with your life.

When you limit yourself to easy options, you are depriving yourself of real growth. If you’re in a rut or stumped as to what to do with your life, I recommend hiring a life coach. And for those of you who have had to tighten their belts lately (like myself), I suggest continuing to read this article since that will be the cheaper alternative.

Below, I have provided you with some badass resolutions that will not only give you the chance to develop killer skillsets, but will also give you something to be proud of by the end of the year.

Read carefully, consider wisely …

  1. Learn how to tap someone out.
  2. Learn how to pick the lock to your front door.
  3. Tattoo someone. (Mom, you in?)
  4. If you don’t know already, learn how to drive a stick shift.
  5. Do a ride-a-long with your local police department.
  6. Read Skillset Magazine Daily.
  7. Adopt an animal in need.
  8. Spend a weekend camping—just you and the elements.
  9. Cure your own meat.
  10. If you really want to learn a new language, make it practical and based upon your actual needs.
Adopting a pet is a great New Year's Resolution - and it's easy to achieve.

Time to Get Excited for the New Year

Think about what drives you and the areas in your life that bring you excitement. It doesn’t have to be a life-changing shift. But one that you can eventually learn from the more you apply yourself to it.

Hey, that’s how I ended up where I am. If you had asked me a few years ago if I thought I would have a byline in my favorite magazine, I would have told you to pass me whatever it was you were smoking.

This article was originally published in the Skillset Spring 2021 issue. Purchase this issue in print or digital at

Get out there and tattoo someone.

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