The *Cruel Truth* About New Year’s Resolutions…

New Year's ResolutionsIt’s that time again…

The ball has dropped.  It’s a new year.  And many people have picked their annual “resolution.”

Unfortunately it’s been my experience that New Year’s Resolutions are a complete waste of time.  Even worse – Some resolutions actually prevent people from achieving their goals.

Think of it this way…  Imagine it’s the final minutes of year.  You make a resolution simply because everyone else is doing it.

Odds are it sounds something like this:

  •  “I will lose weight”
  • “I will quit smoking”
  • “I will make more money”
  • “I will be more happy”

Most resolutions don’t work because you have no plan for achieving them.  They’re not specific and they’re not measurable.

My advice is simple – Throw out your New Year’s Resolutions! 

Instead, implement what I call a Quarterly Goal Plan.  Instead of worrying about a yearly goal, you concentrate on a set of small outcomes that you will achieve in the next three months.

Why a Quarterly Goal Plan?

What I like about a quarterly plan is it simplifies the process of goal setting.  A lot can happen in a single year.  So it’s easy to get distracted when “life” gets in the way.  With a quarterly plan, you can make adjustments and new goals every few months.  This makes it easier to get  what you want.

It’s easy to create a quarterly goal.  All you need are these five elements:

  1. Be Clear – Describe exactly what you want and why you want it.
  2. Be Measurable – Establish a specific metric that signifies the achievement of this goal.
  3. Be Timely – Create a date for achieving this goal.  {I recommend a three-month plan.  So the end of the first quarter would be April 1st}   
  4. Be Achievable – Look at your current metric and establish a goal that’s challenging but doable.
  5. Be Actionable – List the exact steps or processes that are needed for the completion of this goal.

This blog is about the Internet lifestyle.  So let’s talk about a New Year’s Resolution that many people have for 2012: “I will make more money.”

It’s not too hard to turn this vague statement into a three-month action plan:

  1. Be Clear – “I will make money from niche affiliate sites.”
  2. Be Measurable – “I will make $3,000 from four niche affiliate sites.”
  3. Be Timely – “I will make $3,000 from four niche affiliate sites by April 1st 2012.”
  4. Be Achievable – “I will make $3,000 from four niche affiliate sites by April 1st 2012.  I know I can do this because I’m currently averaging $800 each month from a single site.  With extra work, I can replicate this success.”
  5. Be Actionable –  “I will follow these steps to generate income from my niche income site.”

Hopefully you see the difference between a bland New Year’s Resolution and a quarterly goal.  The first is made at the last minute (usually in a haze of alcohol.) The other involves a step-by-step plan that is easy to achieve.

Example of a Quarterly Goal Plan

I’ve used a quarterly plan for over a year.  The result?  I made more money in 2011 than any other year!

Now, I’m going to take what I’ve learned in 2011 and use it to create a few challenging goals for the first quarter of 2012:

  1. Generate $3,000 in total income from my niche affiliate sites.  (Sounds familiar, right?)
  2. Complete my free six-figure Internet business course.
  3. Get 100,000 total web visitors from January 1st to March 31st.
  4. Attend four offline and/or online mastermind group meetings.
  5. Run the Virginia Beach Shamrock Marathon in under 2 hours and 55 minutes.
  6. Book and plan a trip to Panama with my girlfriend for the 2nd week of April.

Did you see how each goal has a measurable outcome on a specific date

On April 1st, I’ll see one of two things – I achieved this goal or I fell short.  There is zero ambiguity here.

Getting Started with YOUR Quarterly Goal Plan

Ultimately New Year’s Resolutions are a waste of time.  Really the only way to achieve a desired outcome is to create a step-by-step plan based on specific, measurable goals.

My advice is to get out a piece of paper and write down quarterly goals for April 1st 2012.  These can be anything you want to improve in life.  To get started, I recommend reading these posts:

It’s a new year.  Now is the time to make it the best one ever!  All you need is a goal and a plan for achieving it.  Simply follow my quarterly plan and you’ll achieve amazing results in 2012.

I wish you the best of luck…

Take Action. Get Results.

42 thoughts on “The *Cruel Truth* About New Year’s Resolutions…”

  1. Scott,

    Develop a quarterly goal plan. What an awesome idea. I set yearly and monthly goals every year, and have been doing that for almost a decade. It helps me be wicked productive. Thanks for sharing this great post.


      • High quality information on this website. I always recommend people stay connected to something they are OBSESSED with. This way they will have no problem doing all the seemingly endless things you have to do in order to make it online.

  2. Hey Steve,

    Wow bro, I would be a bit scared of putting dates to achievements but I think that’s what would actually keep us accountable on the end.

    I really liked the idea of dividing the year into segments but I think I would use a hybrid of 3 and 4 months depending on the task.

    Obviously this would be a mess to remember but that’s what Microsoft Project is all about.

    Your example of goals totally blew me away, is this in a figure of speech or are those your actual goals?

    Last but not least what almost made me fall of my chair is the running time for the Virginia Beach Marathon.

    2:55 really?

    My best time for a 10K was 46:17 (in the Human Nike Race in LA) and my best time for a half marathon was 1:47:17 (in Mazatlan, Mexico).

    I think my girlfriend already signed me for the NY 2012 marathon, don’t know if she wants me dead or something LOL

    Anyway, looking forward for your next updates and hope you reach all your quarterly goals man, take good care and speak soon! 😉


    • Sergio,

      Putting firm dates on things is the ONLY way to really be effective. (though, it is a bit scary for sure). They important part is to also keep the goals realistic. You want to set yourself up for success… not failure.

      For the run, I like to think my time was good (thank you 🙂 ) but I have been running my entire life, my BEST time was 10 minutes faster than the VB time (although I was about 10 years younger) and i just did one in 2.59. Shaving 4 minutes off of a marathon when I have already been training hard is not easy… but it is doable.

      Which I know you know it is ALL about!!

  3. Hey Steve,

    I don’t know if you’ve seen my recent post on LWB, but it is rather uncanny…great minds think alike, right? 😉

    Happy New Year! 🙂


    • Thanks Tom, I will have to swing by and check it out! I haven’t been by anybodies site in about 2 weeks. Lots of Holiday family/friend stuff going on…I have barely had time to do anything.

      (Yet still I talk about goal setting…lol)

      Happy new year to you too! I hope you had a wonderful holiday season in general!

  4. Isn’t that why the suicide rate skyrockets around New Year? People fail to achieve their goals and that leads to depression. I never made lists like these because i’m better at improvising and seizing the moment than making empty promises to myself.
    I do, however, have some plans, just that they’re long term, 3-5 years.

    • I agree with your plans. With goals vs. plans I am personal OK with Goals…just not resolutions. any goal that is not mapped out in detail is really just a “wish” and like you pointed out…just setting yourself up for failure and depression.

    • Thanks for the comment. For sure you need the will to do things… but still I would argue that the will only gets you so far. Perhaps you do not need to be anal about it…but a concrete set of goals is important to reach and realize your goals.

  5. A quarterly goal plan makes better sense than a resolution for the whole year. This way, there is a deadline, and the goals are more immediate.

    Thank you for sharing.

    • Jim,

      Exactly! It is all about creating the opportunity for success. By keeping things short and exact you can achieve success and then in the NEXT quarter set the bar higher. Success breeds success, so this can really be the way to get things done on the long term as well as (semi) immediate.

  6. Completely agree to you,Steve. I’m not fond of New Year’s resolution too. It’s just making things and at the end not complying with it. It would be better to set goals and filled with action and strategies to work on.

    BTW,thanks for the links of the posts related to goal setting. They are very helpful!

    • Thanks Rodel,

      Glad you liked this and the other posts. Goals are such a tricky thing. Done right they can really help you achieve things. Done wrong they only make people feel bad about themselves and still accomplish nothing

  7. Hi Steve,

    Super tips here.

    Be clear. It adds order to your mind, which makes it easier to take the proper steps to achieve your goals. Vague wishes bring vague results. Clear, detailed goals bring clear, detailed results. As in, I will make this amount of money by this specific time…and it happens…all because of your clarity.

    Thanks for sharing your insight Steve!


    • Thanks for dropping by Ryan! I hope you had a kickass holiday season! You surely have the important parts of goals nailed! I liked what you said about

      Vague wishes bring vague results. Clear, detailed goals bring clear, detailed results.

      Well said


  8. Great post. I have never created my annual “resolution”. But after your article I want to try to create my Quarterly Goal Plan. It is very cool that you give an example of this plan

  9. This is a great idea Steve. I have something like this as my current goal. Right now the money I’m making online is almost pathetic, although I suppose it’s better than the majortiy of people who never earn anything.

    My goal is to take a website and turn it into a $1000 dollar a month site by earning from Amazon and Adsense. I’m giving myself about 6 months to do it. My plan to get there is to work slowly and focus on writing and ranking a few reviews at a time, then adding more as I go.

    In the past, I’ve mostly neglected the inner pages and just focused on the home page for the main keyword.

  10. Steve

    happy New Year to you too 🙂

    I think this is spot on and so obviously timely.

    Too many people set big goals but no idea how to achieve them, which is little wonder they fail to achieve them.

    I myself am starting to plan my big goals into weekly bite sized chunks and hold weekly reviews with myself/team
    To ensure I’m on track.

    Good luck to you in 2012, to your success.


  11. Steve

    Firstly Happy New Year.

    Secondly agree almost 100%. The only area of ‘disagreement’ I have is something I’ll be writing about on the Spoon over the coming weeks – though they may be subscriber posts. (and it’s probably not a disagreement, just a question of detail).

    A book you might like that talks about BIG goals is called HARD GOALS. Forgot the author. It’s pretty interesting.


  12. I love the posts and the comments. If I was to add one thing is to keep the resolutions in front of you and in multiple locations. I also like the idea of a goal to be debt free. My goal is to get to the freedom of freedom from any and all debt. Of course with a kid who wants to go to M.I.T. I might be at it for a while. Hope this finds all of us better off for the new year.

  13. “Get 100,000 total web visitors from January 1st to March 31st” << I like this. From your wording I assume that means on all of your niche sites + SSS + whatever else you've got? Does that include things like YouTube views?

    I personally like annual goals and New Year's resolutions. They work for me because I usually break them down into monthly goals anyway.

  14. I totally agree. I think if someone claims that New Year resolutions don’t work, they should try this method before throwing in the towel.

    I’ve come up with several resolutions for the year, one of which is to watch 1 movie every week. It might sound like an easy one, but in the past I’ve hardly watched any movies at all. I’d like to watch more – and I’d also like to take time out to relax more than I did last year.

    It’s great to set targets if you’re specific, ambitious and realistic with them – achieving your resolutions is awesome.

  15. All my life I’ve never made any new year resolution. What I’ve always done is to work towards my plan every blessed day. And yes, writing down your plan step by step and working to achieve it is very, very important. I prefer putting on paper rather than in my laptop.

  16. Hi Scott,
    I have written out a list of goals on my post but I completely understand that I need to include measurable targets and deadline dates. Time to work on a fully formed business plan if I want to ensure great success in 2012.

    Good luck with your quarterly plan 🙂

  17. Good post and push for me in the right direction. I don’t normally make resolutions ’cause I know I never keep ’em anyway.

    I’m definitely down for making quarterly plans. I’m pretty sure it’s gonna have a positive effect on how 2012 turns out for me. I’m gonna give it a shot.

    Happy New Year and to a productive and profitable 2012.

  18. Thanks for this post Scott. It seems I’m in the right direction. I didn’t jump on the New Year’s Resolution Bandwagon, instead I already have a spreadsheet containing my goals for each quarter of the year. Awesome post and will help me pursue my goals better.

  19. Hi Steve!

    Nice information. We can measure our efforts in a better way by following quarterly plan. That’s how businesses will do. This is the time to apply for both personal and business goals!


  20. Hey Steve,

    I’ve been by your blog a few times before and I have to say that the information you provide is stellar.

    I always set quarterly goals first then map out a game plan or action steps that help me create daily habits to achieving those goals. When you can set goals that have an expiration date you proceed with more urgency. Each day is a count-down to either failure or success and for those serious about accomplishing their goals, that reminder can be a huge motivator.

    Quarterly goals are just long enough to where you can actually move through the process of accomplishing your goals without constant pressure but short enough to where you don’t get sidetracked and lost during the journey.

    To a prosperous 2012 and as always thx for the tips

  21. Hello Steve! Very timely and spot-on. We’ve listed down goals for this year and definitely will work hard in achieving them. We’ll tick one off from the list, slowly but surely. Here’s to success!

  22. I have long resigned from keeping a new year’s resolution, as I never accomplished any of them. I think this quarterly goal plan you are suggesting is more effective and realistic. I even believe any time of the year is a perfect time to plan something and act on it.

  23. Hi Steve

    As always practical and do-able post I don’t make New Year’s resolutions but I do have short term goals I’m working on. For me that is do-able and then I will make some more.

    Bit late to the party but I just launched my new site yesterday and also posted on my revamped lavender blog after months of working behind the scene to achieve the goals I had made for new site and blog.

    Thanks again Steve for another excellent post. Appreciated.

  24. Hey Steve I agree with you most of the time we never achieve our goals because we never set a plan as to how we are going to achive them and then put that plan in motion. Thanks for the tips and have a great 2012.

  25. Hiya, not sure trying to do something for the entire year is a great idea, easier to think about it in a quarter so make it to march then june etc. makes it less of a battle 🙂

  26. Oh boy are you ever right Steve! I guess that’s why I quit making new year’s resolutions so many years ago. But at that time, I didn’t have my own business either. They were just silly resolutions that I wasn’t all that serious about.

    I have written out my goals for 2012 though and yes, I’ve even but a few dates down. If that doesn’t get me motivated I’m not sure what will.

    Taking action period is the only way you’ll ever achieve anything no matter what it is on that list. Great tips for us all Steve and Happy New Year!

  27. Hi Steve,
    I love planning and I love your idea about doing it quarterly. I find I tend to plan out what I want to do for the month, but don’t always remember to set my goals too.

    Sometimes it’s good to add a WHY to goals. Sometimes the why is a means to something else and a big motivator.

    For example, I want to make xxxx a month so I can take that trip to Australia or begin a certain high-priced coaching program.

    Happy New Year Steve! 🙂

    • I love these comments. I think a WHY is a good idea too. After all, I had a big WHY when I started internet marketing and reminded myself of it every single day until I eventually accomplished it.

      And that was a BIG goal so it makes sense to also have a why for smaller goals too.

  28. Steve,

    I like your plan. If there is one element I would like to add to this, it is accountability.

    Having some external pressure will do wonders to your productivity 🙂


  29. People make New Year’s resolutions and they make the same one every year and they do not even notice it because that is how forgettable these resolutions are. A quarterly plan seems a more viable and practical way to go about it.

  30. Hi Steve,

    This is perfect timing, even though I know that your post isn’t brand new. I read your other post about how to get 1 million visitors in a year, and now I’ve started to track my goals and actions using a calendar. And the calendar has a picture of my kids, and that’s real powerful motivation…

    I only have one new years resolution, and it’s to get my novel published, that’s it.. all the other goals are small goals that I’ll get done in a few months at a time.

  31. I’ve read somewhere these days that on the end onf last year there was a high number of people that quit smoking. higher than normal, anyway.
    That just shows that some of these new year resolutions do work, if done in proper quantities and by the right persons. Some have more ambition than others, some only lack the opportunity, and others really just make a resolution because everyone’s doing it.

    I prefer long time plans myself, but i also use these opportunities to make small positive changes in my life.

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