I'm trying to think of the word, if one even exists, for the type of person who always believes they're just on the cusp of getting their life goals in order/accomplished/whatever.

Every week of their life (in this particular instance), they say "Well, I know I made a lot of mistakes up until this week, but this week I've really buckled down and I'm on the road to success!", and never acknowledge that they said the same thing last week...and the week before, etc.

I'm assuming it's a noun, but I'll accept an adjective. (Exclamations and adverbs seem unlikely)

So you'd use this in the following exchange;

X: I'm sorry that I failed to pick you up after school last week, I was distracted by intern...
Y: You're always distracted, and always saying that.
X: Yeah, but I was trying to tell you, I'm not like that anymore; on Monday I had an awakening and I realised I need to get my life in order and be more reliable.
Y: Yeah, but you've said that every week for almost a year now, having a new "awakening" that you think will really change you - even though you're still literally stuck in the same rut you were in a year ago, you are the textbook example of a [THIS-THING]

There's an XKCD I'll have to dig up that touches on the idea...


Edit: If you enjoy this word-problem, you'll also get Wikied-away reading https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning–Kruger_effect which is not unrelated.

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    delusional optimist
    – KarlG
    Commented Dec 25, 2017 at 4:09
  • I feel like "optimist" is more of a catch-all term, than a cognitive bias towards ones' self. I don't think the term I'm looking for (or may have to invent) would suggest that the person is the type to think "Oh it's raining right now, but that will just make the weather even nicer in an hour!" Commented Dec 25, 2017 at 4:19
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    He's a perpetual new leaf turner!
    – Allen S.
    Commented Dec 25, 2017 at 5:18
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    The Boy Who Cried Sheep.
    – Misha R
    Commented Dec 26, 2017 at 6:36
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    I like all the above suggestions but would like to add "serial backslider" to the list.
    – BoldBen
    Commented Dec 27, 2017 at 5:18

8 Answers 8


Might I suggest the adjective...

"Micawberish" (or "Micawberesque")

...based on the Dickens character Wilkins Micawber in David Copperfield (1850):

"one who is poor but lives in optimistic expectation of better fortune"

-Merrriam-Webster Dictionary

You may recall that Micawber, perpetually sunny in his expectations for the future, was continually getting himself into worse debt through his bad business decisions and borrowing.

A typical quote from Chapter One:

"I have no doubt I shall, please Heaven, begin to be more beforehand with the world, and to live in a perfectly new manner, if -if, in short, anything turns up."

While originally used to describe a person peculiarly optimistic in spite of crushing poverty, I have heard it used to describe anyone who is self-delusional about the future--"the type of person who always believes they're just on the cusp of getting their life goals in order." (from your original definition)

"...imply that western policy has been based on a Micawberish view ..."

-Afghanistan by Tim Bird

"With the Micawberish optimism of the comparatively young they knew for a fact that..."

-The Unkindest Cut by Gerald Hammond

"One of the nicest, and most Micawberish, things about A London Child is the relationship between Molly's parents. "Never mind, Mary," Molly's father says after a particularly hard reversal in the City. "Whatever happens you and I are in the same boat - so nothing matters."

-The Guardian book review (Adam Gopnik)

I know this may not be a perfect fit for the idea of "back-sliding", but it could work in certain contexts.

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    This one is fantastic, I'm not just going to use it in my written piece, I'm going to commit it to memory so I can use it in the future! Great! Commented Dec 29, 2017 at 16:21

I'm a bit surprised that there isn't a true dictionary entry, but there are several Google entries for a term that defines this kind of person as a resolutionary person. This might be a recently coined term, but the gist of it is that the person is always seeking a new resolution, or possibly, always resolving to pursue the same goal, time and time again, despite previous attempts or voicings of the same.

Urban Dictionary, however, has the following entry:


People who join a gym after the New Year, only to quit going within 3 months.

I suppose it could come to be a new bona fide term in time.


I upvoted @psosuna's resolutionary above, but I would still like to offer self-helpless guru.

  • I chose the Micawberish because it was more literary than "self-helpless guru", but this one is actually my favourite because it makes me smile, haha. Commented Dec 29, 2017 at 16:23
  • I had never heard the term Micawberish until reading the post by @Cascabel. An excellent choice!
    – pablopaul
    Commented Dec 30, 2017 at 0:32

Someone who makes self-deceptions, perhaps a self-deceptionist


There is a legal term "habitual offender" for people have made it a habit of committing crimes. In line with that, I suggest the term "habitual slacker" since, "X" always make it a habit of slacking off.


A person who continually reneges on their promise to change is a serial reneger. If they are unaware of this they are a self-deceiving serial reneger.


I agree with many of the answers, but also to add: 'quixotic'. Quixotic stems from Don Quixote, for someone who is foolishly impractical about their future, which strikes me as the type of term you're looking for. According to Merriam-Webster:

foolishly impractical especially in the pursuit of ideals


What you describe is a bit like an anterograde amnesiac: one who cannot form new memories.

One well-known case of this is Clive Weaving, a man who suffered brain damage and cannot form new memories, and thus recalls nothing between a few minutes ago and the time the damage occurred. He wakes each day and writes in his journal, "Okay, I'm really awake this time!"

He has written stacks and stacks of such journals, for years. Each time he writes it, he completely disregards the previous entries in the same journal which say the same thing, because clearly this time feels real to him and he must have been mistaken each time before. This parallels your subject who thinks each "new" resolution is indeed new, when clearly it is not.

Obviously, this is not a direct description of the kind of person you're describing, but you could certainly use it in terms of metaphors or similes. If nothing else, I hope this might provide a jumping-off point for further investigation.

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