Why New Year’s Resolutions Don’t Work and One That Will

By Kelly Russell

As we say farewell to 2017 and all the perceived good, bad, and ugly we may feel has accompanied it, we find ourselves turning to 2018 with a renewed sense of hope, optimism, and excitement. There is an almost electric vibration – a universal pull to release the old and welcome the new. A clean slate, a fresh start, offering us endless possibilities.

why new year's resolutions don't work

New Year’s resolutions are often an extension of this energy – the most common of which are weight loss, a regular exercise program, improved financial responsibility, better self-care, spending time with one’s friends and family, working less or at something one likes more, stopping procrastinating (I’ll talk about that one later if I get around to it!) or some other vow to fix a lack one sees in one’s self.

The problem is that these resolutions often don’t work, and leave people with a sense of failure, guilt, shame, or maybe just apathy – feeling worse than they did before they made them. But that doesn’t have to be the case. There is actually a resolution that you can make that can help you to allow what is most helpful for you to occur naturally.

New Year’s resolutions don’t work for three reasons.

1) The first is because we are seeking to gain happiness from something that is outside of ourselves.

If we weigh less, are in better shape, have more money, like our jobs more, make our relationships better, etc. we will be happier. While that may prove to be true in the moment, it is fleeting.

Whenever we look to the outside world for fulfillment, we are guaranteed to feel unfulfilled.

What we seek to make us feel better on the level of the ego mind that created this world brings temporary enjoyment at best, before our minds jump over to the next shiny object or thing about ourselves that needs to be fixed or improved.

2) The second reason is because in making these kinds of resolutions, we are setting ourselves up by thinking that we have to make it all happen by ourselves.

As soon as we do that, we put the ego in charge. The problem is that that part of our minds does not want us to feel good about ourselves, or take care of ourselves, or be happy. So we start out strong, for a few weeks or months. Then the ego mind gradually starts to sabotage our efforts – it tells us we’re too tired, we don’t have the energy, we deserve to eat that, we’re too busy, we can work out tomorrow, we’ll start meditating next week, we’ll spend more time with our loved ones as soon as work calms down, we just need to go on social media for a quick minute…

A paradox here is that it is also the ego part of our mind that then berates us and makes us feel guilty and bad (for listening to it!) and tells us that we have failed.

This plays into the third reason…

3) The third reason  is that on a very deep level we are resistant to making these changes because we actually are resistant to feeling better in the first place.

Why is that?

It is because we harbor unconscious guilt and feel like we don’t deserve it.

Why New Year’s Resolutions Don’t Work and One That Will

Get ready for the New Year by getting access to 365 Daily Audios to accompany the Course in Miracles Workbook Lessons! Click here to learn more and to register now.

A Course in Miracles tells us that there is ONE problem – the belief that we have separated from our Creator and have to rely on ourselves to make everything happen in our lives – and ONE solution – remembering that the separation never happened.

So all of the conditions in our lives that cause us to make New Year’s resolutions come about as a product of our belief in separation. It is not just that we believe that we ARE separate from our Creator – which we do – it is that we believe we have deliberately separated. Which means that on a very deep and unconscious level we feel like we have done something wrong, and that we are guilty and deserve punishment. We haven’t, but we think we have – and that part of our minds that believes it– our egoic mind – wants us to remain focused on that.

How do we do that?

By keeping ourselves invested in the world, and all the problems and distractions it offers. One way of keeping our attention and attempting to assuage our unconscious guilt at the same time is to punish ourselves in various ways – which tend to coincide with the things we then make resolutions about. We engage in all kinds of addictions and distractions that keep us away from the one practice – the one solution that would then resolve all of the rest.

If we absolutely believed we were perfect, whole, pure, innocent, made of nothing but love; capable of nothing but love, with nothing to feel bad or guilty about, nothing to hate about ourselves or others; if we believed we have everything, that there is no scarcity, no lack or limitation, nothing to be afraid of; if we believed we are taken care of, provided for, and sourced constantly – because we are so deeply, deeply loved and connected to our Creator – we would not seek to punish ourselves in these ways. We would have no need to overeat, shop for stuff we don’t need, go into debt, drink too much alcohol, overwork – or work at jobs we don’t like -let ourselves get stressed out, or disengage from our loved ones.

How you would be if you really believed you are pure light – the Light of the World – radiating love through your mind, your heart, your thoughts, your eyes, your words, your hands – toward others and toward yourself? How would you be different? What need would you have to distract yourself from that? What would you do or not do if you believed that you have a Guide always with you, helping you, showing you the way? If you trusted that this Guide absolutely has your back, and wants nothing but your true joy and complete fulfillment? If you knew that whatever you are inspired to do is what you are supposed to be doing, and that you could not fail no matter what the outcome?

So what is the road to that belief?

It is the only New Year’s resolution you need – it is a practice. I am giving you two activities to download at the end of this blog – one is a ritual for the transition from the old year to the new – to be done on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day. The other is a daily practice – one that I do to set up my day – by surrendering it to Spirit.

These activities involve giving up both the belief in our unconscious guilt and the need for self-punishment, as well as the belief that we have to do everything ourselves. These things have to be consciously released or we will continue the cycle of setting New Year’s resolutions and breaking them, feeling like we are failing, believing we are guilty, and riding the not-so-merry-go-round of creating distractions, addictions, and circumstances in which to punish ourselves for what we in reality never did.

We have to get back to the place of believing, and eventually knowing, that we are not, and never could be, separate from God. We are only asleep to that fact, and this ritual and practice will help us to gently reawaken, as we give up the control and allow Spirit to direct us, to decide for us.

separate from god

We think we know what we should do, what is best for us, how to prioritize things most effectively, what course of action to take – but we don’t. Spirit does, but one of the awesome things about Spirit is that He is not going to interfere with our free will. We have to ask, to invite, to surrender our plan in order to make room for one that will actually work.

If you do the New Year’s ritual, it will help you to begin the year in an energetically different place – like cleaning your house, or decluttering and organizing a room or closet, or giving away possessions you no longer want. It will give you breathing room, space to expand in a new way, a sense of optimism – of something wonderful that is on its way to you.

As you engage in the daily practice, it will keep you grounded, open your heart, and, if you pay attention – help you to trust that you are guided by your Inner Teacher, always. You will find that you feel calmer, more patient, open to plans changing and things working out in ways that although may differ from your idea, actually turn out to be better than you could have imagined. You will love yourself more, as you identify with who you really are as a beloved child of God. You will love others more, as you forgive them for whatever grievances you held – and thus find your relationships improving, and conflict disintegrating. You will be more peaceful, smile and laugh more, finding the humor in things that may previously have upset you. You will find inspiration coming to you – answers, solutions, ideas – which address things you have placed on the altar and released.

In spending this time in communion with Spirit, you reclaim your wholeness, your innocence. You have a sense of assurance that everything is unfolding perfectly – even when it looks like it’s all f*cked up. ; )

Here are the links to download PDF versions of the New Year’s ritual and the daily practice – for creating peace, love, and joy in your life this year:

Click here to download the New Year’s Ritual

Click here to download the Daily Practice

Thank you so much for being with me today – and for your presence and participation here over this past year. I appreciate your reading these blogs so much, and I am very grateful to have the opportunity to connect with you in this way. I hope that something in this post moves you to make the only resolution you need this year. If so, please share it with a friend, or re-post it. You can click here to share this on Facebook now.

Question: Have you resonated with something in today’s post and video? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

I LOVE LOVE LOVE your comments and I promise to read every one.

If you would like to supersize the daily practice I have introduced here, I highly recommend beginning the New Year with the workbook lessons of A Course in Miracles. There are 365 lessons, one for each day, and the Teachers of God Foundation has a great program called ACIM 365 to facilitate the study of them with daily audios from Lisa Natoli. I encourage you to click here for more info.

I wish you the happiest, most peaceful and fulfilling New Year you have every experienced, and all of the love your heart can hold.

You are the Light of the world – SHINE ON.



kelly russell

Rev Kelly Russell
Psychotherapist, Spiritual Coach
& Teacher of A Course in Miracles

Get ready for the New Year by getting access to 365 Daily Audios to accompany the Course in Miracles Workbook Lessons! Click here to learn more and to register now.

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25 thoughts on “Why New Year’s Resolutions Don’t Work and One That Will

  1. Awesome video and blog post Kelly. You inspired me to begin the practice again. For 15 minutes each day spent in quiet I can save my mind from fear doubt guilt and pain. Keep going and sharing this message.

  2. Happy New Year Kelly!
    Loved your video and blog post.
    Thank you – I am inspired to start the program again with my prayer partner!

  3. YES Kelly! You’ve packed a punch in this blog! As ACIM student and practicing teacher I agree whole-heartedly! I think I made up heartedly because it’s underlined in red ;). You’re spot on with all you have said.

    For years I have come to the understanding that New Year’s Resolutions do not work; they are ignorant at best. Whoops, forgive me for me judgment. I saw it in myself, I see it in my brothers and sisters. There is only one problem (believing we are separate from God) and one solution (uniting with God through forgiveness).

    Peace be with you and Happy New Year or Be Happy Now.


  4. thank you kelly
    This offering is a real gift for me. Your sharing is always so kind and authentic. I love and appreciate you and each one of the Teachers of God.
    Love Patricia

  5. Happy New Year Kelly.
    Thank you so much for this video. Yes, every year I make a Resolution that only goes to the way side, then I beat myself up about it and then start something else. I happened across The 40 Day Program in A Course in Miracles back in March and have continued to practice it through out everyday since then and I love it and will never go back to the old way of being.
    I Am making one Resolution and this one I know I will continue to keep for the rest of my life, and that is to continue following this path in a Course in Miracles!! I’ve never felt so free and passionate about my life in my whole life and I am so grateful for everyone who has provided all the emails and videos and the hard work that I’m sure you’ve put into this. Now I will download the two pdf’s Kelly that you have so lovingly provided for us…and I will do this each and every day. I LOVE YOU

  6. Dear Kelly,

    First of all Happy New Year to you too! And thank you for this beautiful message !

    It is so true that when we realise we are not separate from God and that we are not the doer of life, things start to unfold naturally. They already do unfold by themselves, but the things I feel are less than love, less than whole, start to open up and flow. Then it is so clear that I ám abundance and that everything and anything in life is Love itself. Even suffering is Love when we listen and we know…. because then the suffering leads Home, just like beautiful revelations or insights makes us turn around. Like the Prodigal son. Love calling..

    Some time ago I started to say ‘thank you prayers’. I do that twice a day and it is very powerful. I only express what I know the truth of, confirming what I am, knowing that the being that I am is Gods being. Sometimes it takes a quarter of an hour and other times I ‘descend’ into a deep deep intimacy, beautiful words coming from silence, being in communion with God. Actually that is not a precise enough description, because God and I are revealed to be one in that very silent place were no thing is. No thing, yet there is Isness, aware Being and I ám That.

    In those meditations it is all offered to the altar of that Quietude.

    This practice also reveals the places where it still hurts or where fear resides. Where I believe to be the one that can manage life, or where I think I need to survive, where I am confined to the body and totally alone. I have experienced several near deaths as a child and that is laid down in my system as contractions, and is by times very challenging.

    But the more I abide as what I really am, and the more that becomes my ‘solid ground’ of being, the more can be released and surrendered.

    Yes..a wholehearted Namaste to you too. 🙏🏻 Thank you once more!

    Much love,

  7. I find this explanation very resonant with what so far, I’ve gotten from the Course In Miracles study, 40 Days with Lisa Natoli, Jan., 2005, then the 365 Days Course (which I abandoned around day 180+ probably a year ago.) I will show You what captured my positive attention by using Quotations from your presentation. I start with: “A Course in Miracles tells us that there is ONE problem – the belief that we have separated from our Creator and have to rely on ourselves to make everything happen in our lives .” Yes, that’s the challenge that has alway found my energy and commitment, even my creative thinking insufficient. Next: “So all of the conditions in our lives that cause us to make New Year’s resolutions come about as a product of our belief in separation.” “It is not just that we believe that we ARE separate from our Creator – which we do – it is that we believe we have deliberately separated.” Basically that replays the doctrines of Sin, which I absorbed from Church-going attempts, most sincerely meant to get myself back on right track. That never undid the fundamental self-distrust problem, and to boot: “By keeping ourselves invested in the world, and all the problems and distractions it offers. One way of keeping our attention and attempting to assuage our unconscious guilt at the same time is to punish ourselves in various ways – which tend to coincide with the things we then make resolutions about. We engage in all kinds of addictions and distractions that keep us away from the one practice – the one solution”…. And that one solution Is?; “…ONE solution – remembering that the separation never happened.” But I haven’t yet believed that, “We haven’t, but we think we have – and that part of our minds that believes it– our egoic mind – wants us to remain focused on that.”
    “How do we do that?”
    “By keeping ourselves invested in the world, and all the problems and distractions it offers.” This much was enough to Convince me, that I shall sign in to Both of your invitations to get acquainted with a different way of seeing, a different way of looking, and a Now time in which to start it and do it: “The New Year’s Ritual,” and “The Daily Practice” downloading as this Thank You note ends, w/ much gratitude, from Katya B., 12/27/17

  8. Oh Kelly…thank you SOOOOOO MUCH ! I love listening to you…your words, you tone, your voice – they just radiate love. I am always so moved and inspired whenever I hear you speak. You are a gift to the world. Namaste.

    Love, joani in boothbay

  9. Dearest Kelly,
    In my morning contemplation, I remembered something I had read or heard: Craft a new story. I wrote it in my journal. But what did that mean, and why did it come to me unbidden? If I were to embark on creating a new personal story, what would that look like? I knew it would be about my spiritual self, but I was totally blank. I had become so used to the shame, depression and failure that was my current story that my mind was blocked. I felt totally unable to remember anything in ACIM that I had been studying for more than a decade. Talk about worthlessness and failure. I needed help, but felt confused. My ego mind was totally in charge. Then I opened your email message and decided to take a moment to read it. Little did I know Spirit was sending me the answer to my current perceived problem. The first part of the message reminded me about false guilt feeling real. Then it painted the perfect picture of who I truly am–my new story, which of course is not a story at all but my reality, the eternal me. Best of all, Spirit, through your brilliant post, showed me what to do next, my homework. I am so grateful to you Kelly for loving us all so much that you are willing to share God’s message. Thank you.

  10. Kelly,

    I loved this timely video and I am grateful for you and your teachings. I am always inspired by you. You are so authentic and just radiate light. I am looking forward to doing the end of the year practice and will incorporate the daily practice with my Living in Purpose practice along with the ACIM 365. Wishing you and everyone at Teachers of God the happiest of New Years.
    Love and Light,

  11. Wow Kelly!! This was so helpful! I had come up with a few resolutions before reading this. Now it is so clear that I still believe that I have something that needs to be fixed, that I am not already the perfect Son of God. I am still reaching outside of myself. Like you said, I always get the ball bat out after I fail at the resolutions. I love something I heard in 12 step programs. “If you always do what you have always done, you will always get what you have always gotten.” I absolutely love the handouts and am excited about doing them. I am going to do the 1st one tonight! Sending you tons of love,
    Mariah Brooks LIP student

  12. Kelly,
    Thank you for this beautiful video and blog! You are always so crystal clear in your teachings, and you put into words my feelings about New Year’s Resolutions. I don’t make them! There is nothing in this world that I really want. I just keep focusing on removing the blocks to Love’s presence and remembering that I and my Father are One.
    Love you,

  13. Thank you Kelly!
    This is the best gift I have received during this year!
    You are holy!
    I will print out both pdfs, and start tomorrow morning and I will do the ritual on the 31st before midnight.
    Thank you again! I have a great feeling that the daily practice alone is going to change my life forever! and I will be the happiest camper on earth! I am so ready! Thank you Jesus!
    THANK YOU Kelly!
    I wish you the happiest new year 2018 ever!

  14. Thank you Kelly for your inspiration! Would love to have you offer an audio of your daily spiritual practice that would be downloadable! thanks

  15. Thank you Kelly, it’s a precious advice and all so clearly explained. It really helps to understand why our separated ideas don’t work and the ones we take up with our inner guidance help do. I just have to practice and that’s the most difficult part 🙂 I wish you a Happy and Blessed New Year.

  16. Thank you so much Kelly. This is so helpful. The daily practice is beautiful and I will use it to strengthen mine – I love the visualisation of the altar. You are a wonderful teacher. I have just done the New Year ritual and peacefully and thankfully enjoyed watching the smoke drift up towards the scudding clouds.

    Much love


  17. Thank you Kelly you have stuck a huge chord with me today. I have come across your blog for the first time and loved the content. It made be feel cleaner, rejuvenated. I completed the 2 homeworks that you suggested.
    This is my short story :- I have been a self punisher for all my life and I wish for that to stop, I seek peace.
    I wish to really feel what it’s like to have never been disconnected from the Spirit. But I have just one question if I may, because it burns a hole in me.
    I self punish myself for a bad mistake i made when I was a teenager and have regretted it ever since. I have regretted it so much that I have suffered from mental health as part of my self torture and punishment. Do you think it is possible for me to liberate my past to the Spirit so that I can become innocent and whole with him again? I must have asked for forgiveness countless times and I temporarily feel a reprieve but only for my demons and self punishment to return yet again. The torture is relentless and sometimes I feel I cannot bear it anymore. I want to start a new journey not on my own but with the Spirit, as my guide forever more. I want the torture to end. I don’t ask for miracles about my mental health because I realise I need to work on it all my life (as a way of life).
    I occasionally work as volunteer in a winter homeless shelter. All I want to do is to serve, to give is love and to listen more. And I want to feel innocent and free from punishment if at all possible. I beg for peace again. Thank you for reading this. John

    • Hi John, yes, I do think it is absolutely possible for you to liberate your past – it exists only in your mind. The Truth is that you are already whole, innocent, and perfect as created by Spirit. The only darkness is in the belief you are holding onto that you are anything less than holy.

      • Thank you very much. I am very touched that you have replied to me and with such concise clarity and compassion.
        I will embark on the 40 day programme. This is the start of a new life !
        Bw, John

  18. Kelly,

    What really hit me in the face was that the resolutions don’t work because you are focused on the external. I also saw Friday’s 12/29/17’s ACIM meeting and you were great. I particularly like your prayer at the end. I thought I could go back and copy it down. I watched the meeting live. On YouTube you can pause but you can’t stop, back, fast forward. I’m wondering if you ever used a similar prayer that you might have a copy to it.

    • Hi Tess! Thank you for reading / watching the blog and the teaching on Friday 12/29. The prayer at the end is included at the end of this blog as part of the Daily Practice PDF. You can click on it and use whatever part of it resonates. Happy New Year!

  19. Kelly-
    This blog and video completely resonated with me. I have since given up making New Year’s Resolutions bkz I always felt like I “failed” at them, yet never knew why. I now totally understand and have set my ONE intention for the year…to have a committed, trusting, beautiful relationship with G-d as My One and only source for Everything.
    Thank you for this and for the incredible daily practice which I will begin tomorrow morning.
    Yours in peace, love and joy

    • Tess-

      The prayer at the end of the video is the one called the Daily Practice included in this blog (written in blue). I believe this is the link:
      [Link deleted]