Why New Year Resolutions Fail

Photo by Kurume Shimin

Another year, another resolution. Is that how you see it? Or are you one of those people who have given up on resolutions altogether? 

Whatever your position on the matter, it is a statistical fact that about 50% of people who made resolutions at the beginning of each year will  have given up on themselves within six months. Less than 25% of resolutions are realized. What are we missing, and how can we improve our chances of success?

The different resolutions people make each year include:

  • Lose weight
  • Quit smoking
  • Make more money
  • Manage debt
  • Get fit
  • Save money
  • Improve business performance
  • Spend more time with family
  • Improve relationship with partner

Step back and realize that making a New Year resolution is a positive indication of two vital components of future success. 

  1. It allows you to appraise where you are at the moment
  2. You are formulating a vision of where you want to be

These two conditions put you in a position where you can bring about conscious change in your life, your business or both. Instead of seeing yourself as a victim of your circumstances, start to look at yourself as a product of your conscious choices. You can influence your destiny by being aware of the power you wield through your






Ask yourself why you want to change something about your life. What painful outcome are you trying to avoid? What pleasurable outcome are you aiming to achieve? Write down your answers. These are the reasons that will come in handy when the going gets tough. They are the reasons you will get up and dust yourself when you fall, and keep fighting to win your battle.

SWOT Analysis

Understanding your own capablilities and environmental restraints is the first step towards the formulation of an effective action plan. An action plan that addresses the issues identified here will result in a higher success rate.

SWOT stands for





The first two are internal factors, while the last two are external factors.

A SWOT analysis is subjective. It is what you believe to be the case. The more honest you are with yourself, the more useful it will be.

Most resolutions fail because of lack of a simple, user friendly action plan. The action plan needs to address whatever it is that has been holding you back. This could be 
  • Lack of a candid analysis and understanding of where you are at the moment.
  • Poorly defined working concepts
    • "I will drink less alcohol" Versus "In the first month I will cut down my daily drinking by one pint."
  • Unmanaged negative emotion
    • Fear
    • Anger
    • Frustration
    • Disappointment
    • Guilt
    • Loneliness
    • Depression
    • Inadequacy
  • Low self esteem
  • Long-standing, deeply ingrained counter-productive habits
  • Poor environmental factors
    • Physical environment
    • Negative friends and family members
  • Lack of resources


SMART Objectives

If you have ever set yourself a new year resolution and failed to live up to it, you are in good company. If you have never set yourself a new year resolution but have set yourself targets, then we are talking about the same thing. Here's one way to stack the odds in your favour and increase your chances of success:

Set yourself SMART objectives. They need to be:

  5. TIMED

It is obvious from the above brief foray into the subject that this is a wide-ranging topic. It is such an important practice that it should not just be restricted to New Year's eve. Reaching for your dreams should be a proud part of your daily routine. Take the time to set yourself up for success when you set your next goal. It can be a big step or a small step. What matters is to take positive, targeted action in the right direction.

Say to yourself, "Today is the first day of the rest of my life," and take charge. It is not enough to just have a dream. Give it life by arming it with a purpose and reel it in with a plan that works one step at a time. 


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