8 reasons why new year's resolutions fail, explained by Wellin5 online counselling platform

8 reasons why new year’s resolutions fail

The new year is a great time to set fresh goals and resolutions for the year to come. While we tend to be ambitious, research shows 77% of people only maintain their new year’s resolutions for one week and about 80% of new year’s resolutions fail. So, if you find yourself struggling with resolutions, know that you’re not alone and that new year’s resolutions are still worth doing. They give the mind a blank slate to build off of, and a new-found sense of encouragement. The best way to meet your goals is to develop an awareness of what’s getting in your way. Keep reading to discover 8 reasons why new year’s resolutions fail and how you can overcome these obstacles. 

1. An all-or-nothing mentality

Sometimes having an all-or-nothing mentality can work. But when it comes to new year’s resolutions, it’s essential to gradually build the habit. This mentality also doesn’t leave room for slip-ups, which are entirely normal and to be expected when building new habits. Make sure to show yourself some compassion. Not leaving room for error is one of the most common reasons why new year’s resolutions fail. 

2. Your resolutions aren’t specific enough

Try to be as detailed and specific as you can. It’s easy to say that you want to exercise more or read more books, but what does that look like? Being specific about your goals makes it easier to envision yourself getting there and, it will help you break down the smaller checkpoints needed to hit your resolutions. Try this reframing exercise: 

  • Instead of, “I want to exercise more,” try, “I want to run the local half marathon race that’s happening six months from now.” Bonus points for signing up in advance! 
  • Instead of “I want to read more,” reframe it as, “I want to have read 30 books by the end of the year.” 

3. Having too many goals

Goal-setting is fantastic! It means you want to better yourself and are willing to plan for it. But sometimes, less is more. When your goals become a laundry list, it can become hard to keep track of slip-ups and successes. 

4. Setting unrealistic goals

Your new year’s goals are more likely to stick when they are more aligned with who you are and where you want to see yourself in the future. The resolutions you choose may sound like the ‘right’ ones to pick, but are they right for you? Unrealistic goals can cause more stress and anxiety than anything else, as you may be overwhelmed with the desire to meet them but not have the resources or time necessary. We know the most popular new year’s resolutions are related to physical health, weight loss, and eating habits. And if they align with you, that’s great! But if they don’t feel right to you, you’re better off putting your time and energy into goals that are a better fit for your lifestyle. 

5. Lack of accountability

Setting goals is easy, but following through is the tough part. Whether you have a friend, family member, counsellor, or coach who can hold you accountable — it makes a difference to have someone by your side who gives you the energy and motivation to reach your goals. Create a schedule for your resolutions and do regular check-ins with your support network. That way, they can keep track of and celebrate your successes!

6. Not accounting for failure

There will be a time when your goal for the day doesn’t go according to plan, and that’s okay. ‘Cheat days’ should be a part of your plan! Research states that goals can benefit from planned deviations, where accounting for failure can help maintain motivation and has a long-term impact on the experience. 

7. Too much self-doubt

Don’t let your past failures determine your future. After you’ve learned from your failures, it’s time to take action, and every small victory should be celebrated. Contrary to popular belief, self-criticism doesn’t help motivation, because it puts focus, attention, and energy into the negative aspects of your experience. For every little bit that your progress, practice gratitude, celebration, and self-love. Don’t let a minor failure or disappointment become permanent. Remember that progress is preferable, and if you believe in yourself, you can achieve great success with proper planning, execution, and most importantly, learning from slip-ups. 

8. Impatience

Being impatient can be a major reason why new year’s resolutions fail. It’s easy to become impatient when trying to reach your goals, especially if they’re long-term. Trying to rush the process will only lead to frustration, stress, and disappointment when reaching your end goal — making it harder to stay motivated. Instead, take the time to understand what you’re trying to achieve and appreciate the journey of getting there. Patience requires us to take a step back, slow down, and focus on the things we are trying to achieve rather than rushing towards them and expecting immediate results. Remember: progress is better than perfection. 

Things to consider when setting New Year’s Resolutions

An efficient way to plan your goals is by putting them in the S.M.A.R.T framework

  • Specific: Be specific with your goals. Know why you want to achieve them, set a timeline, and break down what you’ll need to get there. 
  •  Measurable: How will you measure whether you have achieved your goal? It could be the number of books you read, the number of new friends you make, and so on.
  •  Attainable: Are your goals achievable with the resources you have now? If not, will you have trouble getting those resources, and will it hinder your process? If so, plan for it.
  •  Realistic: Is what you want to achieve realistic? If it isn’t at the time, can you create a circumstance for yourself where it will be?
  • Timely: Have you determined a timeline? Does it fit and make sense with your current schedule, or will you have to make some changes?

Make your resolutions a reality in 2023

Although sometimes new year’s resolutions fail, they are not a waste of time. Setting goals for yourself makes you visualize what you want for your life, allows you to prioritize what’s important to you, boosts time management skills, and gives you a sense of accomplishment. If setting long-term goals seems daunting to you, you can always set short-term goals that span a few hours, days, or even weeks. Building new habits will always require discipline, especially at the start. Just because you may have strayed off track from your goals, doesn’t mean you have failed. You also don’t have to wait until next year to start again. Start today with consistency, self-compassion, and a plan! 

If you’re looking to achieve your new year’s resolutions in 2023, our counsellors are well-equipped with the necessary tools and resources to help you stay on track. They can help you frame your journey toward your goals, and guide you along the way. Experience easy online counselling for all Canadians.