New Year’s resolutions can be strange. They’re often unrealistic, and the assumption that they won’t last makes it that much easier to give up.
If you want to set a unique, impactful, and ultimately keepable goal: try picking a few outcomes to ignore this year.
I’m not arguing that you stop checking things that matter. Good goals require good measurement. However, so much of what we are trying to do depends on adopting specific patterns of behavior; creating and sustaining new processes in our life rather than watching the scoreboard. And measuring too frequently may make some things worse.
For example, saving for retirement is important, and so setting aside some small amount of your paycheck is an important start. But checking the balance of your 401k more than once or twice a year won’t make a difference, and might even lead you to trade stocks and funds more actively—a practice statistically associated with lower investment returns.
Checking your weight can help you track goals, and yet daily weight checks show too many fluctuations to be useful. Obsessing about your weight may lead to more shame about your body. And when you don’t feel good about yourself, there is a temptation to soothe your feelings with food or maladaptive eating behaviors. The number on the scale may not be your goal anyways. Health and confidence are much easier to change than your weight.
So by all means, choose new goals. Focus first on developing processes. Determine how often you need to make corrections to progress. Then get to work, adjust only as needed, and be patient. Do more of what matters, and less of what doesn’t help.