I think New Year’s Resolutions are okay to break. The purpose of a resolution isn’t to stick to a plan, but to calibrate which habits are the right ones for you, right now.

Disclaimer: I break most of my resolutions within a week.

My birthday is January 7, and I believe that holidays and birthdays are for feasting and making merry. When I have a New Year’s Resolution to refrain from drinking alcohol on a weekday, for example, and my birthday falls on a weekday one week later, I have two choices:

  1. Make my life less enjoyable, and keep to my resolution
  2. Break my resolution, and start it again

The power of a broken habit

Let’s say you made a New Year’s Resolution to wake every morning at 5 am, and you lasted three weeks. You were irritable and ill the whole time. After breaking your resolution, you have a few twelve-hour sleep sessions to recover, and your life is once more a lot more enjoyable.

Are you a loser? No. You learned a valuable fact: 5 am is too early for you to wake up, right now.

So next, you try 5:30, or you try working at night, or sleeping in on weekends, or getting a different mattress.

Failing on your new habit doesn’t mean you can’t be the better person that you were trying to be; it just means that under the current circumstances, your New Years Resolution didn’t work.

Change your circumstances, or change your goal.

Either one of these options is a success. The only way to fail is if you drop your resolution entirely, and go back to bad habits.


Identify the circumstances that led to your failure. Change something that will make a difference in your ability to keep a renewed resolution. Break the resolution, just don’t give up on a better habit.

Anybody can keep a New Year’s Resolution and instill a new habit, given the right set of circumstances. Only a select few will fail on keeping their new habit, change their circumstances, and try again until they succeed. These are the best kinds of people, the resilient optimists that know failure, and do not fear it.

Are you one of those people? You get to choose.

Robert Browning quote

Looking back on my New Years Resolutions from years past, I only keep about half of them. The other half, the broken resolutions, give me introspective clues on my lifestyle, and what I am able to achieve.

New Year’s Resolutions are a diagnostic tool. Every year, your habits get better, and every year, you can aim a little higher than you can reach.