Right now is that critical time in the year when your New Year’s resolutions will either become real year long goals or fade into nothing. Letting your resolutions fade is not a sign of poor integrity. You did not fail yourself. You have not failed anyone else. There’s still time to really evaluate your resolutions and make tweaks to your commitments. Side note: If you were a person that sarcastically made fun of resolutions as “goals waiting for their inevitable doom”, I’m going to tell you to stop being a jerk to those who want to see positive change for themselves. For the rest of us that are struggling to keep those resolutions, I have a few ideas for poor rhetoric you may be telling yourself.

You are mistaking tactics for goals

Let’s use the most iconic New Year’s Resolution as an example, weight loss. Year after year there’s always a barrage of fitness commercials, gym membership specials, and new fad diets sweeping their way into our daily lives. You might think, “This is the year I lose that 50 pounds”. Terrible pun incoming, FAT CHANCE. The truth, losing weight for the sake of losing weight is never enough self-motivation to create long lasting dietary and exercise habits. You have already set yourself up for failure before you have even begun just by mistaking your real goals.

There’s a key term in that last sentence that we should focus on, “self-motivation”, i.e. self-rhetoric. This is how you convince yourself that your goal is worth the effort. More likely, when you say “I would like to lose 50 pounds”, you really mean, “I want to have positive self-esteem about my appearance”, or “I would like to feel physically better”, or maybe, “I would like to travel, hike, or some other outdoor activity, but my weight/health is a restriction”. I knew a man whose primary motivation to lose weight was to look the part of good-looking-groom for his wedding. He lost over 100 pounds!

Losing weight is not the goal, but it is a tactic i.e. a way to accomplish your goal. You may need to employ more than one tactic. For example, seeking counseling to combat emotional distresses is also a way to improve your self-esteem or smoking less to feel physically better.

Consider trying to get to the root of your goals and reword or rework them where needed. This may mean that you have to practice authenticity. However, by being truly honest with yourself you will help yourself create meaningful points of self-rhetoric that will improve your motivation.

You are lacking positive self-talk

I’ve written about the issues that can happen from complaining too much. Find the post here. However, even if you have learned to filter your speech to others, you might still have issues internally. “I’m not good enough”, “I don’t have the energy”, “No one is going to care if I give up”, are all examples of negative self-talk that stifle your ability to focus.

According to well-known Dr. Phil, your brain will go through a thought 10,000+ times before you are able to articulate it to yourself. Afterwards, you will go through the thought a dozens or more times before you are able to articulate the thought to others. While the process of thought happens within a matter of seconds (or less), there are exercises to becoming better at the act of positive self-talk. Find them here.

When it comes to accomplishing your goals there is no harsher critic than yourself. Most people think this is for one reason: you can’t argue with yourself. I’m going to tell you that’s wrong. Arguing with yourself is called reasoning and it’s perfectly normal.

Recognize that the way you talk about your goals to yourself is just as important as the way you discuss your goals with others.

You assume Goals require Passion

The Rolling Stones said it best, “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you might find, you get what you need”.

We all wish we could be passionate about our goals. We hope that there is a driving force that pushes our actions into meaningful success, but that is seldom the case. I’ve watched people let goals die because they didn’t feel they were passionate enough.

The reality, many of our goals are mundane or lack excitement, but in-turn we make these goals because we are required to. Going back to the example of health. I get more excited about eating a pizza than I do eating a salad, but I eat the salad because I know I can’t eat pizza all the time.

Have you ever talked to someone that has tried to quit smoking? No enthusiasm whatsoever, but still, they persist.

Simply put, it’s okay if you are not overly passionate about your goals or even moderately passionate about your goals. All you need to know is that a goal is something you want to accomplish. Concentrate on your needs, not on your passion (or lack thereof) to your goals.


Before you decide to put the kibosh on your New Year’s resolutions consider that you may be your own worst enemy. You might be confusing your goal with a tactic. You might need some positive self-talk. Maybe, you just lack passion where none is needed. Whatever the case try to give yourself a bit more credit and a bit more care.

Try to remember:

  • It is okay to change your goals.
  • Exercise positive self-talk.
  • It is okay to lack passion for your goals.

As always, thank you for reading and I hope that you have found something of value to add to your everyday rhetoric repertoire. If you have any questions, feel free to get in touch. I would love to hear from you.