The new year is here and with it comes grand proclamations of personal change and growth. Plenty of people make New Year’s resolutions, but according to the U.S. News & World Report, 80 percent of these resolutions fail by February.

It seems many people look at the earth’s rotation around the sun as an excuse to self-analyze and reinvent themselves. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this, but a lot of times this attitude quickly dissipates and old habits continue.

I’m in no way a psychologist or life coach, but I think these problems often exist because expectations are set far too high. In a society obsessed with instant results and gratification, we often get frustrated when our goals aren’t met as soon as we create them.

People who make resolutions to lose weight often set unrealistic goals that cannot be met. They step straight into a fitness routine that makes them constantly sore and miserable. They go on a diet that instantly eradicates all foods they enjoy.

When it comes to kicking bad habits, people often quit cold turkey instead of gradually weaning themselves off their vices. Although this works for some, it can be too much of a challenge for others.

When it comes to career or financial goals, sometimes people get so obsessed with their end goal any setback throws them straight off the course.

We often focus so hard on the person we want to be that we kill who we are in the process. Oftentimes expectations and attachments can be the root of our misery, not our lack of wealth and position.

I’m certainly not saying ambition is bad. I just think there are smart ways to achieve your goals and they don’t involve beating yourself up if said goals aren’t instantly obtainable.

Maybe New Year’s resolutions often don’t work because they’re framed in the context of time. Maybe, instead of focusing on time-specific goals, we should try working toward strengthening life-long values.

Getting in shape may seem less threatening if you look at health as more of a lifestyle and less of a deadline. Excelling in your field may seem less intimidating if you find a life-long motivation to work hard, such as the fulfillment you receive or the ability to provide for others.

As I said, I’m no expert on fitness or career mobility. I’m out of shape and write lousy columns. But I do think there is a lot of wisdom to take from the classic story of the Tortoise and the Hare: Staying focused and on the right path is much better than rushing to achieve your goals.

Of course, with the increased threat of climate disasters and nuclear annihilation, rushing toward the finish line might be a good idea.

Happy 2020, everyone!

Andrew Critchelow can be reached at 270-505-1746 or acritchelow@thenewsenterprise.com.