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Why don’t we stick to our New Year’s resolutions?

Every year, it’s the same story; you create a list of New Year’s resolutions but end up committing to or completing none of them. And you’re not alone in this, as around 90% of people make New Year’s resolutions only to experience immediate backsliding the minute they enter the new year. Many want to lose weight and get in shape, to travel, earn more money, get a better job or even get married and have children. These are pretty common resolutions that are all about positive changes in life, but the majority just keeps on living the same life they lived the year before.

Since the idea of New Year’s resolutions is so widespread, just as the inability to complete them is, one cannot help but wonder; why don’t we stick to our New Year’s resolution? We may have the answer, so keep on reading.

Reason 1: Unrealistic resolutions

Let’s be honest here; if your New Year’s resolutions are as unattainable as solving the world peace issue or finally reading Ulysses, chances are they are going to stay only ‘resolutions.’ Many of us make a common mistake by creating resolutions that are too much or are too big of a challenge which we cannot meet. By creating such resolutions, we are also shooting ourselves in the foot because difficult resolutions make it hard to commit, so we’re setting ourselves for failure even before we began.

Solution: One possible solution to creating unrealistic resolutions is by conducting a deep self-reflection even before we start creating the list. This will help us figure out what is that we really want to do, and how is it that we’re going to do it. Another thing one can do is follow a realistic timeframe in which we’re to complete the resolutions. It can be quite easy to get lost in the idea of a new beginning, wanting to achieve as much as possible in the first three months of the new year, but that won’t be as fruitful as we would want to. Resolutions require a change in behavior and lifestyle, so make sure not to be too hard on yourself and take it slow and easy.

Reason 2: Lack of determination

Lack of determination, also known as giving up too quickly, can affect your resolutions quite a lot. Sure, we all do get discouraged or lose interest over time, but at some point, we really did want to succeed in completing our resolutions and achieving a goal. So, what happened in the meantime? Well, the possible explanation for this could be the fact that it is hard to stay determined and committed once the initial excitement wears off.

Solution: Luckily, there are ways one can cure this issue. One way to do so is by acquiring the method of positive reinforcement to keep yourself on the right path towards the goal. So, in order to keep the initial momentum going throughout the year, you need to remind yourself regularly of the benefits and the positive change in your life once you complete the resolution(s). There are also a lot of goal-setting apps and websites that can help you keep track of your determination digitally, such as,, Smart Goals, Goals on Track, etc.

Reason 3: Resolutions are too vague

According to Mental Floss, if your New Year’s resolutions are based on ‘finding a better job,’ ‘getting in shape,’ or ‘I want to rewrite my essay to make it perfect’, or ‘spending more time with loved one,’ they’re less likely to be accomplished. The reason for that is that these resolutions are too vague and not specific enough. It is difficult to ‘find a better job’ when you don’t even know what ‘better’ job really means. To take proper action and reach a goal, resolutions need to be specific in what they are, not in the positive outcome you desire.

Solution: The proper solution to this problem is creating a smart goal. The following features characterize a smart goal: it is specific, measurable, realistic, achievable and time-bound. Once these parameters are set, it will be much easier to create an action plan and the guidelines for achieving a particular resolution. So, under ‘find a better job,’ one can put ‘find a job that fulfills the following requirements: higher payment, flexible work-hours, positive office environment,’ for example. Or, under ‘spend more time with loved ones,’ one can put ‘invite friends to a Saturday dinner every month.’ The more specific your resolutions are, the greater the chance you’ll complete them and achieve your goals for the new year.

Reason 4: You don’t believe in yourself

This may be one of the most common reasons New Year’s resolutions fail. Not believing in yourself and in the fact that, as long as the resolutions are realistic, you can achieve your goals is the worst thing you can do to yourself. Even if you fail at completing some resolutions, or the exact set number of months or times you had to do something, you can always start over or accept the progress you’ve made. For example, if your goal was to lose 30 pounds in several months, but you only lost 15 pounds, don’t beat yourself up. Use this as a motivation to keep on going and achieve the goal by the end of the year.

Solution: Believing in yourself is one of the essential things in your life. Sometimes, all we need is a pat on the back, not from our friends, family, co-workers or employers, but ourselves. Therefore, you need to ditch the success-failure attitude and start seeing things as regularly progressing and getting better, just as long as you’re actually trying. Try rewarding yourself every time you work on completing your resolutions. This will give you energy, courage, and will to continue making effort towards your goal.

If you want to stick with your resolutions this year, here are some tips from the Pennsylvania Psychological Association:

Ask yourself if you really want to change a habit, behavior or lifestyle; if not, try again next year, when you’re sure

Aim for gradual change when setting your resolutions

Make sure your resolution blend naturally into your current life

Stop being a perfectionist, but also, don’t become a slacker

Prepare for the times you might want to abandon the resolutions

Think ahead and make sure to say ‘no.’

Appreciate the long-term benefits of your resolutions and remind yourself of them daily

Categories: Life