Why Most New Year's Resolutions Fail

 Well... It’s the beginning of February. Have you been able to keep your New Year’s resolution so far? If not, you are not alone. Researchers suggest that only 9% of Americans that make resolutions complete them. In fact, research goes on to show that 23% of people quit their resolution by the end of the first week, and 43% quit by the end of January.  

There are four reasons why people seem to fail at New Year’s resolutions.  

  • Goals should start at a time of change or need for change. So many resolutions are set because it is tradition. Goals are your vision of what you would like the future to look like. If you are setting a resolution for tradition's sake, then your motivation will be lacking compared to a goal set because of a need.     
  • Expect Obstacles. No matter how small or straightforward the goal is, there is always a chance for an obstacle. To keep your optimism, identify obstacles and create plans to avoid barriers. This will reduce the possibility of setbacks or failure.  
  • Set goals into challenging, measured but smaller chunks. Data shows that if you set challenging goals, you will be motivated to reach them. Goals that are measured will not only show your progress but will inspire you when you see the data. It also gives you a chance to celebrate small wins when you reach a milestone. Any celebration of a goal will help you continue pursuing the goal.  
  • Accountability. Studies show that people who not only write their goals but set up a way to be accountable for them will be twice as likely to achieve them. Accountability means that you are responsible to someone to accomplish the goal; this can be motivating. There are four ways you can set accountability: tell a friend, create or join an accountability group, use technology, like setting measured milestones on an electronic calendar, or hire a coach.  

Granted, there are several other reasons a resolution may fail, but these four are the core reasons why people fail to achieve new goals.  

Read more on this topic: Don’t let obstacles get in the way of achieving your goals.


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Dickson JM;Moberly NJ;Preece D;Dodd A;Huntley CD; (n.d.). Self-regulatory goal motivational processes in sustained New Year resolution pursuit and mental wellbeing. International journal of environmental research and public health. Retrieved January 30, 2023.

Results for YouGov realtime (New Year S Resolutions) 327 12.19.xlsx [group]. (n.d.). Retrieved January 30, 2023.

Batts, Richard. (2020, January 5). Don't let obstacles set you back with your goal, plan for them: Lead read Today. Lead Read Today | Fisher College of Business. Retrieved January 30, 2023.


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