Why New Year’s Resolutions Fail

Why Your New Year’s Resolutions Are Doomed to Fail

As January approaches, people tend to embrace an attitude of change and personal growth. Unfortunately, eight out of ten people give up on their New Year's resolutions by February. Why is it so hard for people to fulfill their big plans for the coming year? Let's explore the psychology of why New Year’s resolutions fail and look for ways to improve your odds of success.


Why Resolutions Fail

Conceived to change the way we live, most New Year's resolutions focus on taking up good habits or getting rid of bad ones. While we tend to focus on things that will make us healthier and happier, our goals usually require sacrifice or uncomfortable lifestyle changes. In turn, they are almost always destined to fail. In most cases, people's New Year's resolutions have key flaws that make them difficult to achieve. These flaws include:


Unrealistic expectations: It's fine to challenge yourself with a New Year's resolution, but if you take on too much, you will feel overwhelmed and disheartened. It's best to avoid big, broad goals, such as losing ten pounds in two weeks or quitting all of your bad habits by March. It's also best to focus on small steps rather than huge goals that will take great organization and commitment. For example, instead of training for your very first marathon, you might focus first on establishing a daily routine that includes walking around your neighborhood each evening or going to the gym three times for 30 minutes every week.


Overly broad goals: If your resolution is not properly defined, it is likely to fail. For instance, when they plan to travel more or spend more time with their kids, people really aren't focusing enough on how they will do these things. Instead of saying you will travel more, you might center your resolution on taking a vacation to a specific place at a specific date. Instead of saying you will spend more time with your kids, you might commit to taking them to the movies at least once every month. Whatever the resolution, it’s important to define it and target specific ways you can meet your new goal.


An over-reliance on willpower: In short bursts, willpower can be a powerful fuel for success. Over time, however, willpower tends to fizzle out, leaving us at the mercy of our habits. When they make New Year's resolutions, people tend to be highly motivated. Once this motivation wanes, it can be difficult to live up to our plans for the future. It's almost always a better idea to tie your resolution into a routine, so it will become a positive habit that will require little - if any - willpower. Maybe it's taking the stairs at work or eating broccoli every Tuesday. Whatever the case, just as you rarely think about brushing your teeth each night, your resolution will become less overwhelming if it becomes a part of your routine.


A big mouth: Many people believe that they will be more likely to keep their New Year's resolutions if they announce them to others. While this strategy may seem like a good way to build accountability, it could actually hamper your success. Research suggests that people tend to become less motivated to achieve a goal when they tell other people about their plans. According to experts, this is likely because the verbal announcement satisfies their self-identity enough, while also creating a premature sense of completeness. If you've had trouble keeping resolutions in the past, consider keeping this year's goal to yourself.


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