An old legend says that new year resolutions fail by the end of February (if you’re persistent and lucky). A study concluded that more than 80% of new year resolutions fail by the end of the second week of February, according to Business Insider.
The beginning of a new year brings a lot of positive energy and hopes that we will become better individuals and that the world will be a better place also. All that energy is really good and it would be a shame to let it go to waste. Sadly, we choose to focus that energy in new year resolutions (or goals). In the end (in February to be more precise) we end up being very disappointed when we don’t achieve them, and of course is not our fault: it’s just another crappy year.
Here’s the truth: it’s not another crappy year, it can be an amazing year and here’s why new year resolutions fail:
1. You believe in something greater than you
And I don’t mean it in a religious way. You believe that the new year will totally transform your way of thinking and acting. Which could not be more false! Don’t put the bargain on the new year’s shoulders. A new year does not have any mystical powers that will make you skinny after one working out, or the new year will not read books and learn from them instead of you. So stop putting all your hopes in some magical energy.
Related: 11 Tips & Tricks That Will Help You Stick to Your New Year Resolution
2. You’re not being honest
If you think that after all the food and laziness, you’ll be able to start from 1st of January sharp to work out daily, you are fooling yourself. I know that being healthier is an important goal for a lot of us (including myself). But be honest with yourself and don’t set surrealistic goals.
3. You are overwhelmed
Because we get such an amazing boost of energy from the arrival of the new year, we think and truly believe that we can bring a lot of (positive) changes in our lives.
I remember when I used to attend coaching sessions and I told my coach my new year’s goals: to floss daily, to read 20 books, to brush my teeth twice daily, to take better care of my skin, to start jogging, and so on. And all of the sudden she stopped me and asked:
Don’t you think there are a little too many things to achieve in a short period of time?
And after that, my brain literally melted, because I understood why I was always failing achieving my goals. I was setting to many and I was bringing too many changes into my life all of a sudden. Change is not comfortable for human beings. Even if they are positive, we don’t adapt easily to changes and we get overwhelmed fast.
Related: Small New Year Resolutions That Will Actually Make Your Life Better
So take it easy, one step at a time. I struggle with taking up flossing for a couple of years now. My first goal was to floss at least once per week. I know it sounds ridiculous, but now I floss 4 to 5 times per week and I’m very proud of it – so it my dentist. And my gums.
4. You make your goals public
I know that there are a lot of bloggers out there that dedicate whole blog posts including their goals for the new year. Also, telling your goals to your friends seems quite rational, right? They might actually help you achieve your goals. This might be true.
A study has proven that people who are telling their goals, or make them public in any way, tend to not achieve them. Derek Sivers explains in this TED talk why you should keep your goals to yourself and what the study revealed.
I agree with this 100% because every single time I tell my friends and family about some of my goals, they don’t happen. The TED talk explains it all.
Self-discipline takes time and a lot of determination, psychologists say. Also, they are not really keen on new year resolutions, because they know they usually fail. Failing achieving a new year resolution can turn into low self-esteem and sometimes, even depression.
I have mixed feelings about resolutions and goals. On one hand, I’m a perfectionist and I want to have my goals written down so I can track them. On the other hand, I feel really miserable when I see that I didn’t achieve them. Which makes me not wanting to write and track them anymore.
Anyway, how’s your new year resolution going so far?
My resolution this year is a bit of a struggle. I told myself that I would recognize my self-worth and not be walked all over in my business. Doing so has been tough because it means not grasping for every lead and letting go of jobs. Doing so has let me feel more like myself and I am much happier. It has been tempting to cave for the sake of making more monetarily, but the mental state that I am in is definitely worth sticking to my resolution.
I’m so glad you managed to let go and focus on yourself, Kasey! I know how stressful making more money can be. Also, it’s funny how much we run after money and how little they matter in lots of situations.
I always thought telling people my goals would make me achieve them more often, as I would feel obligated to live up to what I told people, but as I’ve given up goals altogether I guess it’s pretty redundant now. This year I gave myself a word to live by (“flourish”), and I definitely think I am doing a great job at it!
Good luck, I’m sure you’ll keep your word to yourself.
These are all so true. I struggle the most with getting overwhelmed! I try to start way too many new habits at once!
I love this post it is so true! I failed for many years on my New Years until I realized I needed to be realistic and once I accomplish one of my goals I make a new one.
These are great points. I’ve stopped setting “resolutions” and start listing some basic principles I want to live by that year. It’s helped me be more intentional every day but also not feel like a failure when I don’t meet the bar that I will set way too high at the beginning of the year.
Good point! It can be very difficult to keep resolutions. I typically don’t make them because I’m usually setting goals for myself all throughout the year 😉
I can’t really start on my resolutions until I heal from having my daughter (and my tubal surgery after). But I’m looking forward to knocking them out!
Your health should always come first. Hope you’ll get better soon, Marci!
These are good points, I was trying to figure out if I wanted to write something similar, but I feel like failure of new years resolutions depends on the person. I personally don’t think there’s anything wrong with believing in something greater than ourselves! They say reach for the moon and you’ll land amongst the stars, but to each his own. Good read thanks for your input!
Wow, love the points. So true. Executing on the goals is more important than setting those goals!
I like to call them New Year’s intentions. I feel like it sets the tone for the year and isn’t so much pressure.
True. “Intentions” does not put so much pressure and it leaves some space of actually not making those things.
Yes girl! I am all about the non-resolutions. Attainable, everyday lifestyle changes are what leads us to getting the things we really want. You should read the book, The Willpower Instinct by Kelly McGonigal– it’s a fascinating look into discipline and willpower!
Thanks for the book recommendation, Minna! I was looking for some books to add on my reading list for this year. Also, the author’s name reminds me of Minerva McGonagall from Harry Potter, haha.
I didn’t make a resolution this year. Instead, I picked a word that would be my mantra for 2017 – Nourish. This year is about nourishing my body, mind and soul. I’m trying to be intentional with my time, my money and what I put into my body. If I get a little off track, that’s okay, there’s always tomorrow. Less pressure this way.
What an amazing mantra! I love it! Of course, it’s totally ok (and I think it’s also healthy in a way) to get a little off tracks. Good luck with the mantra, it’s beautiful!
Such an interesting take on sharing your goals! I tend to work in the opposite way. I’m way more likely to achieve my goals when others know about them. I hate failure so it really motivates me to get sh*t done so I’m not having to then tell my readers I failed haha you also make a great point on being realistic and honest with yourself! I think we’re all guilty of setting goals that are far from realistic and they tend to not work out at all. Great post!
I have never been a fan of sharing goals and plans to everyone. I usually just share them when they started to materialize. And I don’t believe in New Year’s Resolution.
Belle | One Awesome Momma
Point #4 really surprised me, because it’s true, most people do take the strategy of telling other people their goals in order to keep themselves accountable…how interesting that the strategy tends to backfire!
I love the new idea of keeping goals to yourself. I think that is true. Often dreams go to die when announced publicly!
i completely agree, i don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions. if you really want to accomplish something, you don’t need to wait for the new year to do it!
I never set new year resolutions! I don’t know if that makes me a total downer or not but I don’t need a calendar to tell me when to make a change, nor does a specific date help me stick to one. All of these seem like valid reasons for failures.
I so agree with every single one of these! We should all just start keeping our goals to ourselves and keep track of them on paper. That way we can stay organized and not embarrass ourselves if we don’t follow through with things!
I agree, everyone thinks the New Year has some magical powers to change who and what you are. The only person who can so this is you – it’s not the new year, it’s you attitude!
Totally agree with you, Emma! Although we should take advantage of the energy and enthusiasm the first few weeks of the year brings.
Its true! I try to make very vague goals for the year! I don’t want them to be detailed exact goals
I think it really is important to be honest with yourself and to remember that we need to set attainable steps to meet our resolutions!
I tried to make my goals more long term this year. I’ve found I’m sticking to them a lot better that way for example instead of having a resolution to stick to my diet I have a goal to improve my diet, so if I do have a bad day I can just start again and do better the next!
Lianne | Makes, Bakes and Decor
Even though I like having accountability on my goals, I could totally understand how it may be helpful to be the only one who knows about my goals!
The overwhelmed thing is my downfall. I have all these amazing things I want to accomplish and then when I can’t do 512,896,330 of them in a week I get upset.
I think it’s true, and it’s better to set intentions that are a little less detailed – such as intending to drink more water, rather than insisting that I gobble down 8 glasses every single day. I’m with you that setting less goals each year is better. Quality over quantity.
For me I try to only set goals not resolutions. Monthly goals are a much more attainable way for me.
I don’t just set goals for the new year, I set plans. I choose a couple of things I want to achieve and at the same time I plan out how I will go about achieving them. I also set points to re-evaluate. Sometimes situations change and it’s OK for goals to change as a result of them. It’s not giving up, it’s being honest with ourselves.
Being honest is one of the most important things I noticed for myself! Before I used to make really out of reach things and would get bummed when they failed, but I just needed to scale them down to something more reachable.