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Why New Year’s Resolutions Fail


Are New Year's Resolutions Really Necessary?

As the New Year begins, many folks set resolutions, and make promises to themselves about things they want to change or achieve. 

People make New Year’s resolutions for various reasons, often rooted in a desire for personal improvement, growth, and positive change.

But hold on a moment – are these resolutions really what you need?

Research shows that 23% of people quit their resolution by the end of the first week, and 43% quit by the end of January.

Are New Year's Resolutions Really Necessary

Before declaring any New Year’s resolutions, here are reasons why you might not need them: 

1. The Pressure May Be Too Much

Setting big goals for the whole year can be stressful. Imagine carrying that weight for 365 days! It might be too much to handle.

Many times, this pressure becomes a burden and often leads to depression, and self-loathing when resolutions are not achieved. 

Goals can be set at any time, and waiting for the new year may create unnecessary pressure or delay positive changes.

2. Life is Unpredictable

Life has a way of throwing surprises at us. Sometimes, things don’t go as planned. The popular saying goes “Man proposes but God disposes,” showing that one can never what is coming next. 

Having rigid resolutions may make it hard to adapt to unexpected changes.

3. Guilt Can Creep In

Ever heard of the phrase ‘guilt kills’? If you don’t stick to your resolutions, guilt may tag along. 

This negative feeling can overshadow your achievements and make you feel down.

You also will belittle your efforts because you couldn’t achieve your overall high goals.

4. Lack of Personal Drive

Sometimes, when people make resolutions because others expect them to, like following what’s popular or fitting in, they might not really want the change. 

Without a genuine desire from within, it’s harder to stay motivated. Intrinsic motivation stems from internal factors like personal interest, enjoyment, or a sense of accomplishment.

For example, If someone decides to exercise more just because friends are doing it, not because they genuinely enjoy it, they might lose interest quickly.

5. Too Much Focus on Big Goals

If we only think about reaching the end result and don’t pay attention to the small steps along the way, it can be overwhelming. Small, regular changes are essential for long-term success.

According to Harvard expert Lisa Lahey, “People have a very misguided notion that you can actually change fast. It’s just not true.” 

For instance, wanting to read 50 books in a year is a big goal. But, if we only care about the number, it might cause stress. It’s better to enjoy reading and make it a regular habit.

6. Pressured by Tradition

Some people might feel stressed when everyone around them is making resolutions, and they feel like they have to join in.

But, personal growth can happen in different ways and at different times.

If a person doesn’t want to set resolutions just because it’s a New Year’s tradition, it’s okay. They might prefer making changes when they feel ready, without pressure.

Why New Year’s Resolutions Fail 

Understanding why New Year’s resolutions fail can help individuals approach their resolutions with a more realistic and strategic mindset, increasing the likelihood of long-term success.

New Year’s resolutions often fail for several common reasons:

1. Unrealistic Expectations

Setting overly ambitious or unrealistic goals can lead to frustration and disappointment when they prove difficult to achieve.

2. Lack of Specificity

 Vague or unclear goals make it challenging to create a plan for success. Without specific details, it’s harder to stay focused and motivated.

3. Too Many Resolutions

 Trying to tackle too many resolutions at once can be overwhelming, making it difficult to give each goal the attention it needs.

4. Lack of Planning

 Without a clear plan or strategy in place, individuals may struggle to implement their resolutions effectively.

5. Setting Goals for the Wrong Reasons

If resolutions are driven by external pressure or societal expectations rather than personal desire, motivation may wane over time.

6. Absence of Accountability

 Lack of accountability and support can contribute to a sense of isolation, making it easier to abandon resolutions when faced with challenges.

7. Not Addressing the Underlying Habit

Resolutions that don’t address the root causes of habits or behaviors may fail to bring about lasting change.

8. Impatience

Expecting immediate results can lead to frustration. Sustainable changes often take time, and impatience can undermine long-term success.

9. Failure to Adapt

 Life is unpredictable, and rigid resolutions may not account for changes in circumstances. Being adaptable is crucial for long-term success.

10. Lack of Intrinsic Motivation

Resolutions driven by external pressures rather than personal passion may lack the intrinsic motivation needed to sustain efforts over time.

11. Perfectionism

 Striving for perfection can be demoralizing. It’s essential to accept that setbacks are a normal part of the journey toward achieving goals.

12. Negative Mindset

 A negative mindset can undermine confidence and perseverance. Cultivating a positive outlook can contribute to a more successful resolution journey.

Effective Ways to Set and Achieve Goals

Setting goals is an essential part of personal development, but it’s no secret that sticking to them can be a challenge.

Instead of relying on traditional methods that often lead to frustration, let’s explore better ways to set goals and stick to them.

1. Start Small

Instead of big resolutions, focus on small, achievable steps. Small victories can add up and make a big difference over time.

This way, you can build momentum and gain a sense of accomplishment.

The president of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine, Dr. Beth Frates said concerning New Year’s resolutions, “It takes about two to three months for someone to start feeling confident and comfortable with a new habit, but the repetition of the habit can start to become more of a routine after several days” 

So, instead of setting large goals like ‘I will buy a car in 2024’, knowing fully well you earn a 70k salary in this present economy, make easier goals such as ‘I will save 300k in six months’.

2. Be Specific and Clear

Vague goals can be challenging to pursue. Define your goals, and make them clear and specific. 

Instead of saying, “I want to exercise more,” say, “I will walk for 30 minutes every day.” This way, you have a clear target to work towards.

3. Set SMART Goals

Utilize the SMART criteria – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. 

This framework helps you create realistic, well-defined goals and come with a deadline, making them more achievable.

4. Create a Vision Board

Visualizing your goals can be a powerful motivator. Create a vision board, add images and words that represent all your aspirations. 

Placing this visual reminder in a prominent location will keep your goals at the forefront of your mind.

5. Break it Down

Break your long-term goals into short-term milestones. Establishing smaller, achievable steps allows you to track your progress more effectively and stay motivated.

6. Prioritize and Focus

Instead of spreading yourself thin by setting numerous goals simultaneously, prioritize and focus on a few.

Hence, concentrating your efforts increases the likelihood of success.

7. Track Your Progress

Keep a record of your achievements and setbacks. Regularly reviewing your progress allows you to adjust your approach if needed and provides a sense of accountability.

8. Involve Others

Share your goals with friends, family, or a supportive community. Having a network that encourages and holds you accountable can make the journey more enjoyable and less isolating.

9. Celebrate Progress

Celebrate the progress you make, no matter how little it seems. Recognizing achievements along the way can boost your confidence and motivation.

Reward yourself for reaching any milestones as this will reinforce positive behavior and keep you motivated.

10. Happiness First

What if, instead of resolutions, you aimed for happiness? Focus on what makes you happy, and you might find yourself naturally moving towards positive changes.

In this period of inflation, setting some financial goals as New Year resolutions may not bode well with the times.

Imagine making resolutions to improve your finances but after increasing your earrings, you are still stuck in the same financial runt due to continuous inflation. 

Hence, it’s best to prioritise the joys life offers. Make goals for loving yourself and giving yourself a break. 

11. Embrace Flexibility

Life is a journey, not a strict plan. Embrace flexibility, and you might discover unexpected opportunities that lead to personal growth.

Having rigid plans with how life unpredictabilities will only lead to failure. 

12. Learn from Setbacks

Understand that setbacks are a natural part of the process. Instead of seeing them as failures, view setbacks as opportunities to learn and adjust your strategy. 

Use these experiences to strengthen your commitment to your goals.

13. Be Kind to Yourself

Life is challenging, and nobody’s perfect. Be kind to yourself. Instead of strict resolutions, practice self-compassion and understand that everyone has ups and downs.


New Year’s resolutions might not be the magical solution for everyone. Consider a more flexible and compassionate approach to personal growth. 

Using small changes, and happiness as a guide, celebrating progress can lead to a fulfilling year ahead.

Also, setting and sticking to goals is an ongoing process that requires patience and dedication. 

Remember, it’s the journey that transforms, not just the destination.

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