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Why New Year’s resolutions often fail

The pitfalls of New Year’s resolutions and how to overcome them

As the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve, millions around the world embark on a tradition as old as time itself – making New Year’s resolutions. From getting fit and healthy to learning a new skill or quitting a bad habit, the start of a new year seems like the perfect time to set ambitious goals. However, statistics tell a different story, with a significant number of resolutions falling by the wayside within weeks. In this article, we explore the common reasons why New Year’s resolutions fail and provide insights on how to overcome these pitfalls.

Unrealistic expectations

One of the primary reasons New Year’s resolutions often crumble is the setting of unrealistic expectations. While enthusiasm runs high at the beginning of the year, setting overly ambitious goals can set individuals up for failure. Instead of aiming for drastic changes, consider setting smaller, more achievable milestones that contribute to the overall objective. Breaking down a lofty goal into manageable steps increases the likelihood of success and boosts motivation.

Lack of specificity

Vague resolutions like “get in shape” or “eat healthier” lack the specificity needed for success. Without clear and measurable objectives, it becomes challenging to track progress and stay motivated. A better approach is to define specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals. For instance, instead of a broad resolution to exercise more, set a goal to walk 10,000 steps a day or go to the gym three times a week.

Absence of a plan

A resolution without a well thought out plan is like a ship without a compass – directionless and prone to drifting off course. Many people make resolutions without considering the necessary steps to achieve them. Creating a detailed plan, complete with actionable steps, timelines, and potential obstacles, significantly increases the likelihood of success. This strategic approach turns resolutions from wishful thinking into a concrete roadmap for personal growth.

All or nothing mentality

Perfectionism can be a resolution killer. The all or nothing mentality, where individuals believe that any deviation from their plan is a failure, often leads to frustration and abandonment of the resolution altogether. Embrace the idea that setbacks are a natural part of the journey. If you miss a workout or indulge in an unhealthy meal, view it as a temporary detour, not a roadblock. Adopting a more forgiving mindset promotes resilience and perseverance.

Lack of accountability

Sharing resolutions with friends, family, or a support group can provide a valuable support system. However, the absence of accountability is a common reason resolutions fizzle out. Consider finding a friend with similar goals or joining a community where members can share progress, setbacks, and advice. Having someone to share the journey with can make the process more enjoyable and increase the likelihood of success.

Embracing setbacks

In the pursuit of New Year’s resolutions, it’s important to embrace the notion that setbacks are not synonymous with failure but rather valuable opportunities for learning and growth. Instead of viewing setbacks as roadblocks, consider them as stepping stones towards improvement. Reflecting on the reasons behind a stumble provides valuable insights that can be leveraged to refine future strategies. By understanding where we fall short, we empower ourselves to make informed adjustments, transforming setbacks into catalysts for progress. So, as the journey unfolds, remember that it’s OK to falter along the way, and it’s OK not to be OK – for in those moments lies the potential for invaluable lessons and ultimately, sustained success.


While the allure of a fresh start in the new year is undeniable, the road to achieving resolutions is often fraught with challenges. Recognising the common pitfalls, setting realistic goals, creating a solid plan, and fostering a supportive environment are key elements in overcoming these hurdles. By approaching resolutions with intention, flexibility, and a positive mindset, individuals can turn their aspirations into lasting achievements, ensuring that the promise of a new year brings genuine personal growth and fulfilment.

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