Make A New Year’s Regret

New Year’s Resolutions don’t stick. Make a New Year’s Regret instead.

Photo by Damir Spanic on Unsplash

While we often start our year’s with well intentioned hopeful ambitions, those good intentions are quickly consumed by every day life. Various estimates put our new year’s resolutions failure rate at >80%.

A better approach may be to name your regrets from the past year. Humans are pain avoidant creatures and regrets are psychologically painful for us.

Consider what actions/inactions you regret from the last year. Use these regrets to motivate your choices going forward. What might you do to avoid furthering these regrets?

How to make a new year’s regret

  • Identify your genuine regret/s. The greater the regret, the more motivation to avoid it again.
  • Consider the choices you made and actions you took that contributed to those regrets.
  • Connect your future choices to how they will help you avoid repeating your past regrets.

A common new year’s resolution is ‘go to the gym more’. While this often fails as a resolution, you may find you have more success with a regret based approach.

For example, we may identify that we regret spending too much time on the internet or watching TV, that we regret eating too much junk food and that we regret letting our fitness deteriorate. Then we can make choices to change our actions and avoid these regrets.

As we face these scenarios each day, being aware of our regrets help us choose the apple over the chocolate, a walk in the park over a morning on the couch and be happy with our choice.

In this example, both approaches attempt to improve our health. The resolution approach asks us to make a commitment to an action, the regret approach asks us to identify a motivation for better choices.

With the new year ahead and this one coming to a close, hopefully this framework is helpful for you and if nothing else, I hope you don’t regret reading this article. Happy new year 🥳

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