our Reasons Your New Year’s Resolutions Might Not Succeed

The weight of expectations was heavy as I committed to encouraging others to uphold their New Year’s resolutions this year. It’s a well-known cycle: people set resolutions but often fail to stick to them. A study by the University of Scranton revealed that only 8% of Americans successfully keep their New Year’s resolutions, while 49% occasionally meet their goals. So, why do we continue to make these resolutions year after year?

Indeed, without our failures, how would we recognize what methods are effective? There’s no disgrace in failing; in fact, many billionaires view failure as essential feedback. The key to achieving your resolutions lies not in perfection on your first attempt, but in learning and adapting from each misstep.

In this article, we will explore what went wrong with your past resolutions and how you can successfully achieve them this time around.

1. You Focused on Achieving “Reasonable” Goals

“The chains of habit are too weak to be felt until they are too strong to be broken.” – Samuel Johnson

Perhaps you’ve encountered this common suggestion: “set achievable goals.” For instance, if you aimed to start running, typical advice might suggest you begin with a leisurely 15-minute walk, gradually increasing the pace or distance over time.

While this sounds like sensible guidance, did it truly help you? What happens when even a modest 15-minute walk seems daunting? What then?

Often, the response is to give up; you might even think to yourself, “exercise just isn’t for me.”

new year goals

The issue is the expectation of performing a reasonable amount of exercise – a significant improvement from doing none, but still missing the essence of your resolution.

Chances are, you have at least one resolution that demands consistency, like exercising daily, picking up a new hobby, or dedicating time to a side project. For these kinds of goals, don’t obsess over achieving a “fair” amount of progress each day. Focus instead on developing the habit itself.

If a 15-minute walk feels overwhelming, start with just 5 minutes and build from there. If you can’t find time to code for your side project some days, jot down ideas or sketch a simple flow diagram – anything that keeps the project moving forward.

Avoid skipping any day dedicated to your resolutions, no matter how trivial the effort may seem. Consistently devoting even a small amount of time to your goal is crucial. Once the habit forms, everything else becomes easier – that’s the true power of habits.

2. You Encountered Negativity from Others

“Sometimes, if you want to change a man’s mind, you have to change the mind of the man next to him first.” – Megan Whalen Turner

The influence of those around us can be a double-edged sword when it comes to maintaining resolutions. If you’re surrounded by supportive individuals who provide that extra push, sharing your goals can be beneficial as they help keep you accountable – though you shouldn’t depend solely on them.

negativity from people

However, going public might not always yield the desired outcomes, particularly if negative comments or mockery affect you deeply (unless, of course, your resolution involves ignoring such remarks).

When it comes to serious commitments, be selective about whom you trust. Sometimes, it’s better to quietly succeed than to falter because those you confided in doubted your capabilities.

3. You Were Unprepared for Challenges

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” – Winston S. Churchill

Sticking to resolutions around the clock is a tough task, and fluctuating willpower is an expected challenge that might derail your efforts. This doesn’t make us failures; it simply proves we’re human. The key is to resume where you left off.

push through challenges

Rebounding from setbacks is undoubtedly difficult, but the only way to overcome this is to close your eyes, grit your teeth, take a deep breath, and keep pushing forward. What might feel like an endless struggle often lasts only a moment, and overcoming it places you much closer to your ultimate goal.

4. Your New Year’s Resolutions Were Not Substantial

“If something isn’t special, then it’s ordinary.” – Nora Roberts

A common pitfall in setting New Year’s resolutions is the rush of excitement that leads to crafting a lengthy to-do list for the year. The issue arises when this list includes items that are only of fleeting interest. Including goals you’re not genuinely committed to significantly raises the likelihood of not following through.

new year resolutions

Before adding an item like photography to your list, take a moment to truly consider why it’s there. Are you genuinely interested in photography, or is it just because it’s currently popular? If a resolution doesn’t deeply resonate with you, it’s probably not worth the time and effort it demands.

Remember, you can set goals at any time of the year. It might be wise to reserve your New Year’s list for those resolutions that truly reflect your innermost desires.


There’s a difference between outright disbelief in New Year’s resolutions and giving up on them due to past failures. If you belong to the latter group, reexamine your previous strategies and pinpoint what didn’t work – it could be related to any of the issues we’ve discussed. Address these challenges and give it another shot this year.