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10 Reasons New Year’s Resolutions Fail and How You Can Stick to Them in 2020

December 28, 2019

It’s (almost) a new year and it’s a time when many people set goals to better themselves in some way—and that’s what New Year’s resolutions are made for. The problem is, they’re really hard to stick to. In fact, over 90% of us will fail at keeping them past the second week in February. So, what’s the deal? Why can’t we seem to stick to our goals for longer than 6 weeks? Well, as it turns out, there are a lot of reasons. 

A 2016 study showed that 55% of resolutions were centered around health such as exercising more and eating healthier. Another 20% of resolutions focused around getting out of debt. Setting these lofty goals is hard no matter what time of year, so trying to incorporate them into your life just a couple of days after the hectic holidays? That’s a tough ask.

Whether it’s a lack of motivation, lack of resources, or simply becoming bored with the resolution, there are ways to help you succeed and finish what you started. Let’s take a look at the top 10 reasons New Year’s resolutions fail and how you can knock it out of the park next year.


1. Your Goals Are Too Lofty

Many of us create resolutions that are simply just too big to achieve. If you’ve never run before, don’t set a goal to run a marathon in March. Sign up for a 5K instead. Another thing to remind yourself is to take things day by day. Stop obsessing about your pitfalls in the past and fantasizing about the future—focus on the here and now. Ask yourself what you can do today to help you get one step closer to an attainable goal.


2. The Goals Are Too Overwhelming

Not only do we tend to set goals that are too dreamy for us to accomplish, but we also tend to set goals that end up putting too much pressure on ourselves. For example, you could have the resolution to pay off $6,000 worth of credit card debt this year. But since you’ve given yourself all year to do it, your chances of procrastinating are high. Instead, set smaller goals within smaller time frames. Given the same example, a better resolution might be to pay $115 a week toward your credit card to pay it off by December.


3. You Give Up too Easily

The simple act of giving up is a huge resolution breaker. When you lose interest or are feeling discouraged, it’s easy to just throw in the towel before the month of January ends. To help fix this problem, pick resolutions and goals that are truly exciting or interesting to you—then set benchmarks every month to help you accomplish them. You’ll feel accomplished every month which will create momentum to help you keep going.


4. The Resolution Is Too Vague

If your goal is to “find a better job” this year, you might want to get a bit more specific if you want it to come to fruition. Many people are setting resolutions such as “worry less,” “get in shape,” or “spend more time with family,” but it’s difficult to meet your goals when you’re not exactly sure what that means. Solve this issue by setting SMART goals—specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound. By setting up the exact parameters of your goal, it will be much easier to come up with an action plan.


5. The Goal Creates a Financial Burden

It’s easy to give up on a resolution when the associated expenses are sky-high. Take gym memberships or fitness classes, for example. Sometimes, a monthly pass at a yoga studio can cost $100 a month, which can quickly add up as the months go on. Instead, be creative and try to find inexpensive or free ways you can work out without having to drain your bank account—like a fitness app or YouTube channel.


6. You’re Going at It Alone

If you’re not held accountable, it’s much easier to give up on a goal. Whether you’re trying to quit smoking or wanting to work out three times a week, it’s much easier when you have a partner. Surround yourself with people who have like-minded goals or are willing to set a joint resolution with you. Be careful that your partner is actually a positive support system and not someone who drains you or becomes competitive.


7. The Goal Takes up Too Much of Your Time

Sometimes, you might find out that the resolution you’ve set for yourself requires a much bigger time commitment than you originally thought. If your goal, for example, is to be more organized and tidier at home, avoid trying to do it all in one day. To help you succeed, break the goal up into smaller, manageable increments instead. Try setting aside 15 minutes every day to organize or clean one area of your home. That way, you’ll feel accomplished every day and the task won’t feel overwhelming. Plus, over time, you’ll create new, positive habits.


8. You’re Not Being Honest with Yourself

Is the resolution you’ve set something you really want to do for yourself? Or is it something you think you should be doing for yourself? If you really don’t enjoy running, then why tell yourself you should start running X amount of miles every week? You’ll only end up disappointing yourself when the resolution quickly falls to the wayside. Make goals that you actually want to achieve for yourself and want to put a plan of action toward.


9. You Tricked Yourself Into a ‘False First Step’

When you take a false first step, you’re trying to buy a better version of yourself instead of actually earning it. You might feel really proud of yourself for buying that FitBit and it can make you feel like you’re taking a step toward better health, but really, it hasn’t accomplished anything yet except giving you a dopamine release. Avoid this trap by starting with what you have. It’s better to establish a new habit that will then be enhanced by a fun new gadget or app on your phone, not the other way around.


10. You’re Being Too Hard on Yourself

Did you want to go to the gym four times last week but only went twice? Don’t beat yourself up over it. By doing so, you’re basically telling yourself that you’ve failed which will only discourage you from continuing. Try not to look at the situation in black and white, that you’ve “failed” or “succeeded”—there is a gray area. You should congratulate yourself for going to the gym the two times you did and then focus on the next week, one day at a time. Try to give yourself the compassion and support that you would give a friend who was aiming for a goal.

Written by Ashley Brewer for Knockaround.

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