Why do so many New Year’s Resolutions Fail?

On January 1st, many people start off the new year with new goals and resolutions in the hopes to better themselves and their lives in the year to come. I know I have set many resolutions for myself in the past. However, by the time December rolls around, some of those resolutions have been long forgotten.

Why is this the case for so many people?

What is the secret to making and maintaining our goals?

The truth is that making broad resolutions is not a successful strategy for many reasons. One reason in particular is the mismanagement of your willpower, which is a critical resource for how you stay motivated. To better allocate your willpower you have to be honest with yourself and account for what’s working and what’s not working.

So how do you make a New Year’s Resolution successful?

Here is an activity that might help you get started:

  1. Grab a blank sheet of paper and create two columns: POSITIVE (+)  and NEGATIVE (-).

  2. Reflect on your past year (or month, or week, etc.) and consider any people, activities, or commitments that triggered positive or negative emotions for you. Write them down in either the positive or negative column.

  3. After looking at your columns, ask yourself, “Did I have more positive or negative experiences?

  4. For your POSITIVE column - reserve more time for these actions in your new year. Get them on your calendar NOW! Book things with friends and prepay for activities/events/commitments that you know work.

    • For example, if you have a goal of wanting to be more physically active, and we see that walking our dog was a positive experience for us last year, schedule more time to take your dog for a walk in the new year. You may decide, “I will walk my dog each morning for thirty minutes before work”.

  5. For your NEGATIVE column - write at the top in big bold letters, “NOT-TO-DO LIST”, and put them somewhere you can see them each morning for the first few weeks of the new year. These are the people and things you know make you miserable, so don’t put them on your calendar out of obligation, guilt, FOMO, or other nonsense.

    • For example, if you absolutely hate running on a treadmill at your local gym, don’t force yourself to in the new year as you will be setting yourself up for failure. Instead, think of a way to become more active that you will enjoy and stick with.

That’s it! Give it a try and let us know how it goes!

And remember: it’s not enough to remove the negative. That simply creates a void. Try to replace negative experiences with more positive ones. Pay attention to what activities drain you of willpower quickly. Learn from yourself. Check in with yourself periodically to see what is working for you. To protect your energy, it is okay to let go, it is okay to move on, it is okay to change.

Now that you’re on the path to making sure your resolutions are fulfilled, you will need to develop your emotional intelligence. This skill is vital to you discovering deeper insights about yourself, overcoming discomfort faster, and it will save you a lot of time and energy dealing with different people. Read 5 quick steps to improving your emotional intelligence and begin growing wiser faster.