The new year is a time where many of us set goals in the form of New Year Resolutions. Making sustained changes in our lives is hard. Learn why many of us fail with our New Year Resolutions so you can do better this year.

As we prepare to enter a new year, many of us plan to use this as an opportunity for a fresh start. So, we set New Year Resolutions to make big changes in our lives. Since we are seeing so many of the same resolutions set year after year, it’s safe to say that many of us are not achieving our goals. The failure rate for New Year’s resolutions is said to be about 80 percent, and most lose their resolve by mid-February. So, welcome to the club! Why do new year resolutions fail? And what can we do this year to change that and increase the likelihood of making sustained changes in our lives?

It’s nearing the end of January now and many of us may have already fallen off the horse when it comes to our resolutions. That doesn’t mean we have to quit. Making changes in our lives is hard, and we are all going to have missteps and setbacks. That’s part of the process. So, let’s keep moving forward and see if we can get back up again. Or if you’re still on track with your resolution, congrats! Keep moving forward and check out this list of reasons why we often fail to avoid these problems.

So, why do new year resolutions fail?

  1. Speed.
    • When we set goals for ourselves, many of us want to see the changes right away; in other words, we treat the marathon like a sprint. Therefore many of us see not making immediate progress as a failure.
    • Solution:
      • We are likely to see better results if we make small incremental changes over time. Also, if it were quick and easy everyone would do it.
  2. Confidence.
    • Many of us have tried, and failed, at new year resolutions in the past, maybe even the same ways we want to try again this year. This can make it difficult to believe in our ability to succeed.
    • Solution:
      • This year kick doubt to the curb and be intentional about setting your goals and taking steps toward them every day.
  3. They’re too overwhelming.
    • At the opportunity to start fresh many of us set big goals for ourselves, but then when it comes to actually attempting to achieve them we are overwhelmed. This is totally normal but it shouldn’t prevent us from setting big goals for ourselves.
    • Solution:
      • Instead, try breaking up your goal into more manageable milestones. It’s easy to be overwhelmed when we look at the big picture because these larger goals are set over a longer period of time. Breaking them down helps us to focus on the now. For example, if you want to pay off your debts this year and you have $5,000 in debt, instead think about it as about $400/month which is only $100 every week.
  4. Not tracking progress.
    • Having a goal that is measurable and time-limited are two important aspects of good goal setting. But if you don’t track your progress, you won’t know where you’re at, how far you’ve come or how far you have left to go.
    • Solution:
      • Write down your goal, how you plan to achieve your goal, and track your progress every day. Seeing what you’ve accomplished is a good motivator to keep moving forward and is often accompanied by its own dopamine release. Remember to reward yourself for the milestones and be gentle with yourself during setbacks.
  5. Support.
    • It’s harder to achieve our goals when we are doing them alone. But it might feel challenging to reach out for support if we’ve failed before.
    • Solution:
      • This year try to find an accountability buddy. Find a friend or group of people who are trying to achieve the same goal as you. Engage in activities, like going to the gym or meal planning, together or have another way to keep one another accountable to your goals.
  6. Motivation.
    • Many of us know what we want to do – lose weight, stop smoking, save money – but do we know the why? Without the why behind the goal it is much harder to be motivated to accomplish it.
    • Solution:
      • Attaching a value to the goal can help give us more motivation in achieving it than simply doing something because we feel obligated to or think we should. If losing weight is the goal, ask yourself why you want to lose weight and be honest with yourself. Remember that the value behind the goal is going to be different for everyone and there.

For more information on setting effective goals and achieving them, check out our blog, 6 Proven Steps to Set Goals and Achieve Them.