Top 5 Reasons The New Year’s Resolutions Fail

by The Happy Rock on January 7, 2008


Like clockwork New Year’s comes and everyone fantasizes about some habit they want to kick or a good behavior they want to start. I was on the resolution train for years, only to realize I was lucky to make it to February. I am here to offer some reasons why New Year’s resolutions aren’t lasting recipe for change.

  1. Resolutions are so common place that everyone feels like they need to do them. They get created out of habit rather than conviction, motivation, or passion. Even if the desire is there, the planning and preparation are often half hearted or non existent. Writing them down, planning, preparing, reading, and learning are crucial to creating lasting life changes. Half the time we can barely recall what the previous year’s resolution.
  2. Resolutions are often derive from negative emotions. Changes that are built around positive results and motivation, rather then ‘stopping’ something have a much greater chance to be successful
  3. No accountability. Everyone knows resolutions fail, but we try anyway without changing the formula. We rarely involve family, friends, or support groups and no one cares(even ourselves) when the resolution is abandoned by mid January.
  4. Resolutions are overwhelming. Our unhappiness with the past year or our zeal for the New Year causes us to bite off way more than we can chew. The huge weight we create for ourselves serves only to drag us into hopelessness. Smaller specific goals are more likely to be achieved. Even the divide and conquer method can be a great help.
  5. Resolutions are too broad/general. Vagueness usually leaves room for use to say ‘yeah, sure I did X in 2007’. ‘Spend less money in 2008’ is a admirable goal, but it is unlikely to have a significant impact on your life without quantifying how much you spend now, having a specific target goal, and measuring your progress.

That has been my experience with resolutions, hopefully yours is different. Is it?

What’s the alternative? The real goal is to create a life attitude and structure that constantly embraces and promotes self growth, rather than one that skates along the whole year until some arbitrary day where culture says you should try to change something about yourself. Is New Year’s a great time for reflection? Absolutely, but it should be just one many reflection and change points throughout the year, not a day that you need to make up for all the lost time of the previous year. Another alternative is 30 day experiments with proper preparation and motivation. They can be excellent ways to create positive self growth.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

boby January 7, 2008 at 4:12 am

I agree, afterall there is only one person you need to fool in this world….yourself.


Emma January 8, 2008 at 10:15 pm

While I agree with some of the thoughts in this post, I’m in favour of New Year’s resolutions. I like to spend time setting my resolutions for the New Year, implementing them consistently as much as possible and evaluating my progress at the end of the year. It provides an overview of where I’ve come from and encourages me not to lose sight of my goals. One of my resolutions for 2007 was to pay off debt and I achieved this. Another was to lose weight and I did not do this. So this has become a resolution for this year. :) I think it’s the intention and thought put into resolutions that makes the difference, and consistency and consciousness are key.


The Happy Rock January 9, 2008 at 3:57 pm


It sounds like you have attempted to solve some of the problems with resolution like lack of planning/thought and no progress monitoring. With those resolutions are probably more helpful than for most people. I still might suggest trying experiments or shorter periodic changes as a regular approach to effect change. If you are looking to lose weight, maybe cutting junkfood for a month to see how you feel and any weight changes. Or something with workouts. After a month you can reevaluate and see what you learned and where you need to go. Yearly time frame are just too big IMO.


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