New Year’s Resolutions: It’s Never Too Late to Fail

Did you make a New Year’s resolution for 2013? If so, how are you doing? If you’re still hanging in there but wish you weren’t, here are some tried and true methods for failing. You can use these same tactics to undermine your work life, in general. So, if you’re ready to throw in the towel, but you’re not sure how to make that happen, here’s your chance:

Make big resolutions like losing weight or learning a new language. In the remote chance you fail at failing (that is, you actually succeed), you’ll have made a major change. Hooray, right? Wrong. This change means a new wardrobe or travel to another country to show off your new foreign language fluency. Either change costs money. By making resolutions big and broad, instead of small and measurable (such as losing a pound a week), you’ll be more likely to fail.

Go cold turkey or take an “all or nothing” approach. This route may provide your fastest way out. If one cupcake means you’re done losing weight, the way out is a delicious win-win. Skip a day at the gym and not only is your new exercise regime over, but you may get to sleep in or watch more TV.

You can apply this same philosophy to your workplace. While OSHA probably won’t allow you to ignore safety guidelines, you can disregard other big corporate initiatives with a single lapse. You’ll be back to 2012’s standard in no time. You can try again in 11 months; just remember to make next year’s resolution all or nothing as well.

You can thwart resolutions by keeping them to yourself: A watched pot may never boil, but an unstated resolution can be blown off in seconds. Avoid sharing your resolution or involving others in your plans. Involving others will prolong your agony. Suddenly, you’re obligated to someone. If you’re prone to guilt over disappointing others, this could create negative feelings that you’ll probably want to avoid. People looking to you for their own improvements seem needy, and you’re already plenty busy. While spending quality time developing talents in others might benefit you in the long run, why take that risk?

In addition, involving others might be seen as weak. What if others do a better job than you? What if you actually succeed? Then, you run the risk of an improvement you have to endure for a whole year or, worse, the rest of your life. That sounds tedious. And you might have to share credit. Even when shared credit is appropriate, sharing is for kindergarten, not your adult life or office. Note: If you are a kindergarten teacher, you are excused from using this exit.

Probably the best way to avoid success with a New Year’s resolution is to forgo making one in the first place. Most people do, and they seem pretty happy. Lower your expectations, and you can join them.

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