Why New Year’s Resolutions Fail

New Year's Resolutions

Why New Year’s Resolutions Fail (and what to do about it)

I’m sure you’ve been here before. A few weeks into the New Year and you’re raring to go with all those New Year’s resolutions. Convinced this time will be different. Maybe it’s the desire to get fit or the goal of losing weight, so you’re up well before the crack of dawn, out in the dark chill of a midwinter morning to work out at the gym. 

The first week or two go well. Then something comes up. You miss a morning. Then two. Before you know it, you’ve not been near that gym for two weeks and you’re sat on the couch eating junk food. It’s about this time that ‘life gets in the way’ and that New Year’s resolution falters…

It needn’t, once you understand; new year’s resolutions can’t help but fail.

Why New Year’s Resolutions Fail Reason 1: It’s the Wrong Time of Year.

Midwinter is dark, dreary. A time when you’re prone to flu and SAD. It’s a time to rest, reflect and restore your energy and balance. Not a time to start something new. By all means, make your plans mid winter. But wait until life bursts forth in spring to implement them.

There is a rhythm to your day, your month, the seasons. Dance with it; don’t struggle against it.

Why New Year’s Resolutions Fail Reason 2: Success and Failures

Drawing a sharp distinction between success and failure is another reason people fail

You begin well, with the best intentions. Then comes a setback. You stop doing the things you know you should and conclude you’ve failed.

If the plan to exercise on a regular basis becomes exercise once a week… once a month… Don’t beat yourself up about it. And don’t give in. 

Keep moving forward. 

Baby steps are better than no steps at all.

Why New Year’s Resolutions Fail Reason 3: No Accountability Partner

If you haven’t already, find yourself an accountability partner – someone with the same goals to support you.

It could be an individual, a friend or family member. Or join a group or collective of like-minded people. 

Giving in is easy alone. But having others around to offer motivation helps you stay the course and achieve your goals.

Why New Year’s Resolutions Fail Reason 4: Wrong Thinking

When we set a resolution, it’s usually to fix something. Our thinking is “What’s wrong?” “How do I fix it?”.

We fail to ask more and better questions. First off: forget about fixing. Instead, focus on what you want to create. 

Don’t worry about the long or short term. Just run through, answering each of these questions in turn:


What does that involve? What do you need? What impact will it have? Etc.

Who do you need? Who do you need to become?

Where, When?

How do you go about it? How else? How much will it cost?

There’s a sequence to your thinking. Of course set goals, but be as thorough in your thinking as you can be. 

Why New Year’s Resolutions Fail Reason 5: Wrong Focus

Having decided what you’re going to fix and how, you create your action plan full of smart goals. You then focus on implementing that plan. And when you fail to keep to plan, you get discouraged and eventually give up. 

Your outcome is what matters. Commit to it, and recognise this is a journey. Like the pilot flying from London to New York, you’re off course most of the way. Be gentle on yourself. Keep course correcting and you’ll get there.

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