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Last Updated on January 5, 2021

Why New Year Resolutions Fail And How to Set Yourself up for Success

Why New Year Resolutions Fail And How to Set Yourself up for Success

Every year, millions of people take the opportunity to use January 1 as a fresh start. After a challenging, strange, and difficult 2020, many are eagerly anticipating 2021 and with it, the hope of change and new possibilities.

But change and opportunity don’t come by chance or by luck. They come by being clear and intentional about what is most important to you, what you want the year to look like, and what you are going to do to make it happen.

That’s why the process of setting New Year’s resolutions is so essential – it provides a chance to stop and reflect on our goals and intentions for the new year – to bring consciousness and intention to our lives. It’s no wonder people have been setting New Year’s resolutions for almost 4,000 years! [1]

Every year, my husband and I set our goals and intentions for the year ahead. When the kids became old enough to participate, they started joining us for this important ritual.

If you haven’t yet taken the time to pause and reflect and set your goals and intentions for this New Year, this is your first step.

Then, it’s time to make them happen. However, we all know that the execution of our resolutions is often easier said than done.

In fact, check out these statistics:

  • One widely quoted statistic notes that 92% of people don’t follow through on their resolutions.
  • Another showed 80% of people give up on their resolutions by the second week in February.[2]
  • A third study identified that 88% of those who set New Year’s Resolutions fail, even though 52% were confident of success at the beginning.[3]
  • One identified that 25% of people ditch their goals in the first week![4]

Regardless of which of these studies is right, we can all agree that the overwhelming conclusion is this: MOST people don’t follow through.

7 Reasons Why New Year’s Resolutions Fail

Here are 7 reasons why so many New Year’s Resolutions fail and more importantly, how to set yourself up for success:

1. Your Goals Aren’t Specific Enough

“I want to get healthier”

is a great mission, but not a great goal. The universe responds to specificity and so does your brain.

When things aren’t specific enough, or you don’t have a clear enough vision of what you want, your mind doesn’t know what success looks like, and it’s easier to get distracted, demotivated and lose energy.

Set Yourself up for Success:

Get specific. Make sure you have a clear vision of what you want and what success looks like.

You want to get healthier? What does that mean? Do you want to exercise three times a week? Eat better? What does that look like? No more sugar, meatless Monday, eight fruits and vegetables a day?

You want to lose weight. How much? By when? Get specific on your goals so you know exactly what it would mean to achieve them.

Make your goals SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Timely.

2. No Accountability

How much more likely are you to follow through on something when you’ve committed to someone else – your boss, spouse, friends?

The founder at AllTopStartups, Thomas Oppong wrote is well in his article on Medium:[5]

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“When you are accountable to someone or a group of people for doing what you said you would do, you can easily get stuff done because you engage the power of social expectations.”

Set Yourself up for Success:

Find an accountability partner. Hire a coach to keep you on track and honest. Make a commitment to someone else.

I have a good friend that joined a “Race for a Cure” team so she was accountable to both the team, the cause and the result.

3. You Lose Focus

Did someone say ‘squirrel!?’ Committing to having a new adventure each month is a great resolution (one of my good friends had this one last year).

In January, you go skydiving,…Awesome! February, you head out on a kayak…Great work! But then things get busy, life gets away from you, and suddenly that exciting resolution finds its way to the back burner of your mind.

I read one statistic that said 23% of people forgot about their resolutions. Forgot!

Set Yourself up for Success:

Write down your resolutions.

Studies have proven that those who write down their goals accomplish significantly more than those who do not. In fact, you are 42 percent more likely to achieve your goals if you write them down. Writing your goals down not only forces you to get clear on what is that you want to accomplish but doing so plays a part in motivating you to complete the tasks necessary for your success. [6]

Then, place them somewhere you can see them and review them regularly. Place your goal somewhere you see it: your bathroom mirror, your calendar, a reminder on your phone.

My husband and I have date nights throughout the year to check in on our goals and see how we’re progressing. You can also use other ‘milestone events’ such as birthdays, anniversaries and holidays as a time to review your resolutions.

Create a daily ritual around your resolution. My good friend, and owner of HeySoul, Jessie Gardner, talks about making small, consistent, simple, doable actions.

“Moments make up your days, days make up your year.” Jessie Gardner, Founder, HeySoul

Build these into your normal life and make them something you look forward to doing. Your cup of tea in the morning, a comfy meditation pillow, your favorite app. This creates a positive experience and begins to rewire the brain to seek that experience again and again.

4. Your Environment Is Not Conducive to Your Goals

In my work as a health coach, this shows up more than any other type of coaching work I do. One of the biggest challenges my clients face is trying to make a change in an environment that is not in sync with the changes they’re trying to make.

For example, you want to stop eating sugar, but your partner stocks the house full of yummy sweet treats. Or, you want to meditate daily, but every time you go to do so, your family laughs at how woo-woo you’ve become. Maybe you’re trying to take less on and learn to say no more often and your partner keeps committing you to every invitation you get. Perhaps you want to walk three times a week, but it’s the winter in England and it’s pouring rain every day.

I had one client who wanted to stop snacking in the evenings. However, every night when she went to watch TV with her partner, her partner grabbed a big bag of potato chips or pint of ice cream. Sure, she had willpower, but understandably this was a real struggle and made it much harder to stay disciplined.

Set Yourself up for Success:

Short of ditching your partner, abandoning your family and moving to the South of France, what can you do when your environment is not conducive to your goals?

First, aim to get your partner or family on board, even with small changes.

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Not a chance? Set up systems that allow you to get what you need. Meditate when they’re not home, stock your cupboard full of your favorite teas for when you watch TV. Join the local gym, get an exercise app, purchase a second-hand treadmill.

It’s NOT easy, but there ARE always ways to make it work.

5. You Don’t Really Want It, or You Don’t Know Why It’s Important

We often make resolutions based on what others think we should do or perhaps what we think we should do. But if you don’t really want to do it, the likelihood of success becomes very low. YOU must want to lose weight, quit smoking, save money. Someone else can’t want it for you. In fact, as humans, we have a need for autonomy and freedom, which means if someone tells you should, the likelihood of you doing it becomes even less!

Performance expert and coach, Jay Henderson says this,

“If you set goals based on things that aren’t a priority for you, they’re just not going to happen. But here’s the deal. If you set your goals based on what IS important to you, you probably won’t even need to write them down. You’re going to think about them all the time and they’re just going to happen”

Set Yourself up for Success:

Identify what YOU want and WHY it’s important to you.

Learn your why so you will always stay motivated! This article can help you:

How to Get Motivated and Be Happy Every Day When You Wake Up

6. You Underestimate What It’s Going to Take

Most people underestimate what it’s going to take to make their goals a reality. They get excited about an idea, but the more they see the reality of what it’s really going to take to get there, the more they lose steam.

What happens to your mind when it thinks something is too hard or believes it’s going to take too long? Exactly.

Set Yourself up for Success:

Identify what you need to do to achieve your goal. Goals without actions are just ideas.

Create a plan of action. Better yet, get someone else who has done exactly what you’re trying to do help you.

If you want to lose 10 lbs., how do you plan on losing it? How long might that take? What’s the step-by-step approach? Put pen to paper and figure it out.

Another tip: Keep it simple.

Identify the one thing that will have the most significant impact or make the biggest difference for your life. You don’t need to make eight resolutions. Make one. The one. And commit. Put your energy and focus into making it happen. Small changes eventually add up to huge results.

Take my client Robin. Due to her fibromyalgia, she had such terrible pain in her feet that she couldn’t tolerate anything on her feet other than fuzzy socks. But she had a goal to wear this pair of moccasin slippers out into the world. She started physical therapy, did desensitization work and slowly extended the amount of time in her slippers.

And then one day I got the best email from her:

“…this week is the first time I’ve worn the brown slippers out into the world! I literally started by just keeping my feet in them for 15 seconds, and building from there on days when I thought I could.”

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See? Small changes = big results.

7. The Resolution Is out of Sync with Who You Are

Our identity – who we believe ourselves to be – is very powerful. A former colleague of mine tells the story about a client, “Big Dan,” who came to him wanting to lose weight.

Big Dan had a goal to lose 10 kilos, but “Big Dan” was a large man who ran Big Dan’s Meat Shop. His entire identity revolved around his size. Of course, every time he tried to lose weight he didn’t. He saw himself as Big Dan, as did others. In order to lose the weight, he needed to shift his entire identity.

Set Yourself up for Success:

Connect with your identity

– who you are – and how you see yourself.

If you see yourself as athletic and strong, the likelihood of you doing that triathlon are high. But if you have always seen yourself as nonathletic and clumsy, guess how that’s going to play out? This is not an easy shift, to change your identity. It requires awareness, understanding, and some deep work. Often this is work that needs to be done with the support of a good therapist or coach.

But once you switch your perception of yourself, it’s amazing how easily (and quickly) things will happen from there.

Additional Tips to Set Yourself Up for Success

Serious about achieving your goals this year? Read on for a few more ways to help you follow-through on your New Year’s resolutions and make this your best year yet.

Practice Self-Reflection

It’s important to spend time reflecting before you jump into setting your goals and resolutions. Self-reflection is about taking a step back and reflecting on your life, behavior and beliefs. It’s a valuable and powerful practice. You may have heard the saying,

“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and over again but expecting different results.”

Yet, that is what so many of us do. This year, before your set your resolutions, take a step back and reflect on what’s working and what’s not. Identify what to keep and what needs to change. Seek to understand yourself at a deeper level and identify what might get in the way. Take some time to reflect on the last year.

To read more about self-reflection, get access to a step-by-step process; and valuable strategies to make your self-reflection time most productive, check out this guide:

How Self-Reflection Gives You a Happier and More Successful Life

Remember, There’s No One-Size-Fits-All Approach

Everyone will tell you the best way, or the right way for how to do something. There’s tons of different articles, pieces of advice and strategies about how to set your resolutions. Here’s the one thing that is absolutely and always true:

You must find a process that works for you.

While we have similar human needs (love, connection, significance), we also have different innate wiring, which means what works for someone else may not work for you.

Think about what you know about yourself as you think about strategies.

What works for you to keep your goals? Think about a goal, resolution or commitment you made that you DID keep.

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Why did you keep it? What were the factors at play?

This will give you some great insights into which one of these might work for you.

Your Mindset and Beliefs Override Everything.

It doesn’t’ matter how SMART your goals are, if you write them down and who you’re accountable to if you haven’t looked from the inside out.

Most of our problems are internal, and so are the solutions. Following through on your resolutions is more about your mindset, beliefs and identity than anything else.

If you don’t wholeheartedly believe you can achieve something, it won’t happen.

    Our minds are very powerful.

    In fact, there’s an amazing story of an orthopedic surgeon in England who performed surgery on patients with osteoarthritis of the knee. In one study, he took a group of patients and did NOT do surgery at all. He put them under, made the incision, spent the same amount of time in the operating room, and then sewed them back up. They thought they had the surgery. And guess what, all his patients reported improvements and reduction in pain. (You can find out more about the story here.) Our minds are powerful, hence the placebo effect.

    That means with your resolutions, you must start with the belief that it’s possible.

    Look at your belief system.

    What belief is getting in the way of your success? That goal you’ve been trying to achieve: do you believe you can? What do you believe (or not believe) about yourself that might be getting in the way?

    Be Nice to Yourself

    Life is full of setbacks, obstacles, and failures. There’s no reason why your New Year’s Resolutions should be any different.

    So, you wanted to eat healthier and you just messed up and had a donut with your kid. So what? Try again.

    Don’t use it as an excuse to completely abandon the goal you had set for yourself. Failure is all part of learning and when you’re trying to implement any new habit, you’re going to slip back at times.

    Be nice to yourself. You’re doing the best you can. Focus on moving forward. Acknowledge your wins and successes. And don’t lose sight of that goal.

    You Have the Power to Make it Happen

    Who knows what this year will bring. But whatever it brings, and regardless of external circumstances, you have the power to make this year great. You have the power to create change and new possibilities. You have the power to achieve your goals.

    Start with a healthy mindset, proven strategies, and a genuine belief that what you want is possible. Expect great things. Then, go after them with commitment, passion, and resilience. It’s going to be hard work, but everything worth accomplishing always is.

    You got this. Here’s to an incredible New Year!

    Featured photo credit: Chinh Le Duc via unsplash.com

    Reference

    More by this author

    Tracy Kennedy

    Lifehack's Personal Development Expert, a results-driven coach dedicated to helping people achieve greater levels of happiness and success.

    10 Strategies to Keep Moving Forward When Feeling Stuck Why Negative Emotions Aren’t That Bad (And How to Handle Them) How to Practice Mindfulness Meditation to Calm Your Thoughts 30 Self-Care Habits for a Strong and Healthy Mind, Body and Spirit How to Listen to Your Inner Voice for Greater Fulfillment

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    Published on February 23, 2021

    What Are Vision Boards And Why They Work

    What Are Vision Boards And Why They Work

    We hear people saying that vision boards are a fad, that they are not worth doing, and that they should be forgotten. However, this is simply not true. Vision boards can be very useful, and they are definitely worth taking the time to create. That is why so many celebrities and notable figures in the world are choosing to create and use them.

    Beyonce has been known to use vision boards to help her with her future goals, as has Oprah Winfrey and if they work for these two incredibly powerful and talented women, then it makes sense that anyone can benefit from them.

    But what are they? Rather than simply being a collection of images, vision boards are so much more than that.

    To help you to learn more, I have put together our guide to what they are, how they can be made in four steps, and why you should make an effort to make a vision board for yourself.

    What Is a Vision Board?

    We all have visions and goals that we want to achieve. They may be in our personal lives, or they may be in our careers and businesses. While we may know what it is that we want to achieve, this doesn’t mean that it is always easy to focus on our goals.

    The idea of a vision board is that it is a visual representation of what we want to achieve. We can use it to show our end goal and where we see ourselves being in the future. Not only this, but a vision board will also help you show the process of how you envisage getting to these end goals.

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    A vision board can be made from a variety of images. What you choose will really depend on you. However, you need to make sure that it reminds you of what your goal is and what it means to you. They should be something that you want to display and that is as eye-catching as possible.

    Colour and texture are key parts of any vision board. However, how you use them is entirely down to you and you alone.

    How To Create a Vision Board?

    Making a vision board may sound straightforward, however, it can be more complicated than you realize. There are plenty of things that you need to think about along the way.

    While the way that you make your vision board will really depend on you, there are 4 steps that you should follow to make sure that it is clear and useful for you in the long run.

    Step 1: Define Your Goals

    The first thing that you need to do is make sure that you define your goals. To do this, you need to list the areas of your life that you consider to be most important to you. We can’t tell you what these are since they are a personal choice. However, some of the most common examples of these areas include your family, relationship, hobbies, friends, fitness, well-being, and finances.

    When you have identified what areas of your life are most important to you right now, then you can start to drill down even further into them and identify what goals you have within them.

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    If you focus on sports and fitness, then maybe you want to teach yoga or train in a sport. If travel is important to you, then maybe plan a trip around the world. If you want to expand your mind, you could identify an instrument or language that you want to learn and if you are thinking about your career (and maybe your finances, too), then starting a business could be a key goal for you.

    You shouldn’t spend too much time on this, else there is a chance that you may overthink things rather than letting them come to you. Only spend around 10 minutes on this step. Make sure that you write down anything that comes to mind as you can use these things later on.

    Step 2: Gather Your Inspiration

    Once you know what your goals are, then you need to start thinking about how you can create a visual representation of these goals. Think about words and images that match in with what you want to achieve.

    Of course, the most obvious place to look for these images is in magazines, but you shouldn’t limit yourself to only magazines. Other great places that you can use for inspiration for your vision board include:

    • Postcards
    • Stickers
    • Wrapper paper
    • Materials
    • Things from nature
    • Online searches

    When you see something that works for you, then cut it out or even rip it out and place it on one side. You may be surprised by just where you can find your inspiration, and you shouldn’t discount something just because it doesn’t fit in with what you think should inspire you.

    This step will take a little longer than the last. So, you might want to make sure that you have a nice cup of your favorite hot drink—ready to browse through and find your inspiration.

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    Step 3: Map Out How You Want Your Board to Look

    Now, we have got to the point where you can start thinking about what your vision board is going to look like. You will need to grab some things for this step. You will need some cardboard (the bigger the better), scissors, glue sticks, markers, fabric, decorate tape, stickers, gems, or sequins.

    To start, you just want to lay your images out on your board. You don’t want to glue anything until you know how you want them to be arranged. The last thing that you want is to stick things down, commit to that setup, and then find out that you want to change them.

    Once you are happy with how things look, then you can stick it all down. You may want to use some of the added decorative things that you have put together, such as decorative tape, sequins, stickers or simply use different pens or paints to add color.

    The main thing to remember is that your vision board is all about you, so what you create should be appealing to you. You can look online for help on how to put things together and make up your board but, ultimately, you need to focus on it being a representation of you.

    Step 4: Make It Happen

    The last thing on the list is to make sure that you bring your vision board to life. First, you need to make sure that you display it in a place where you will be able to see it. After all, that is the main reason for taking the time to make your vision board in the first place.

    Display it in a place that you go to every single day. This could be a home office, your bedroom, or perhaps in a hallway before you leave the house every day. Having it there will remind you that you need to follow those dreams and achieve those goals and will also show you how you can do it.

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    Then, it is down to you. Do whatever you need to do to make it happen. Push yourself and focus on what you want to achieve. You may make excuses and you may sometimes think that you just can’t do it, but I promise you that you can—that you will one day get there. Of course, your vision board is just a part of the process, and really, it is down to you to make it happen. So, do it!

    Why Do They Work?

    We know that vision boards sound like they are a lot of work, but the truth is, they are as hard as you make them. Not only this, but they are well worth putting all that effort into to create them.

    With a vision board, you will able to see what it is that you want in the future and identify how you can get there. When you can see it, there, in front of you, then you are going to want to get there, and you are going to feel much more motivated to work towards these goals. Not only this, but the process of making a vision board is more fun than you may realize. This means that you can look forward to doing it rather than ignoring those goals and stopping yourself from achieving what you want in the future.

    More Tips on Creating Vision Boards

    Featured photo credit: Andy Art via unsplash.com

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