The real reason why most New Year’s resolutions fail

why new years resolutions fail

why new years resolutions failWe’re in that strange New Year twilight zone. Everyone’s stopped drinking, joined the gym and started learning Cantonese.

It all sounds very admirable but here’s the problem:

Most New Year’s resolutions simply don’t work.

In a survey of over 3,000 people UK website ‘Quirkology’ found that only 12% people stuck to their New Year’s resolutions. Research from the University of Minnesota suggests that “six weeks after people make their New Year’s resolutions, 80 percent have either broken them or couldn’t remember what they were.”

It’s a familiar story, but what is it exactly that holds us back? More importantly, what can we do to turn the tables?

1. Set goals because you want to, not because you think you should, or worse, because society thinks you should

Remember this is about you and you alone. A half baked dream from a glossy magazine, a work colleague or a self help book might sound idyllic, but it’s someone else’s dream. Worse still it’s probably an abstract dream that no one outside of Planet Krypton or Threapleton Holmes can realistically achieve. For a resolution to really work it needs to come from you. It doesn’t have to be drastic, it could be as simple as setting aside a couple of hours a week to focus on your next venture.

2. Ignore advertisers’ fear mongering tactics, they’re just trying to guilt you into a buying frenzy

It’s the time of year when marketers, advertisers and everyone after a quick buck is telling you what you should and shouldn’t do. Special offers on gym memberships… weight loss programmes and goodness knows what else are designed to make us panic and guilt buy things we wouldn’t normally dream of. Take a step back. Do you really see yourself going to the gym 3 times a week in 6 months time? Imagine there were no sales, special offers and deals – what would you focus on then?

3. New Year’s resolutions are often negative and focus on depriving ourselves of something – reverse the trend, think positive!

It’s no wonder we often find it hard to stick to our guns when some of the most popular New Year’s resolutions are: “I’m giving up drinking in January to save money” or “It’s time to stop eating cheese and join the gym”. No one likes giving up things they enjoy – especially not at this time of year (see point 4). Rather than thinking about what you can give up, think about what you can add. Positive changes don’t have to be a hardship. You could learn to cook something you love, set aside more time to spend with the family or even start trying to monetise your favourite hobby. If it’s a goal related to something you already love you’re less likely to resent the time you set aside to achieving it.

4. Try to be realistic about your goals – remember it’s cold and bleak outside and we’re back at work…

Let’s face it, the post Christmas, post New Years eve party lull can be pretty grim and uninspiring. We haven’t been paid in weeks, we’re grumpy about returning to work and the blustery weather and long nights are taking their toll. The idea of compounding the misery by giving up chocolate or going for jog in the freezing rain when it’s pitch black outside is probably the last thing you need.

5. If you didn’t want to do this at any other point during last year, the chances are you’re not going to want to do it now

The New Year might seem like as good a time as any to make resolutions but it’s just a date like any other. If you really, genuinely want to do something, the best time to do it is when you’re feeling inspired. Making a resolution because ‘everyone else is doing it’ is a poor motivator. It also means that when everyone else fails, you’ll feel less compelled to stick with it! You’re far more likely to see your goals through if you start something you feel passionate about right now.


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