Six Reasons Your New Year's Resolutions Will Fail

Updated on February 15, 2018
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Sally is a business communications coach who gives workshops on how to keep your professional reputation squeaky clean and drama-free.

Before you make New Year's resolutions, review these common reasons people fail to reach their goals. Then, learn some tips on what you can do to buck the trend. If you've already started on your resolutions, but you're finding them hard to stick to, ask yourself if any of these points listed below are holding you back. It may be time to re-frame your goals so that you have a better chance of success.

How are your New Year's resolutions working out for you? Is it time to re-evaluate your goals?
How are your New Year's resolutions working out for you? Is it time to re-evaluate your goals?

You haven't done enough planning and preparation.

When you made your resolution, how far ahead of January 1st, did you make up your mind to change something in your life? A month ahead of your start day? A week? On New Year's Eve or even right when you woke up on New's Year's Day? The more time you give yourself to map out your goals for the upcoming year, the better. For example, it's hard to start a healthy eating plan right on day one if your fridge and pantry are still stocked with holiday treats and leftovers from Christmas. Planning ahead for a new eating program should involve clearing out the food you no longer want to eat and restocking your kitchen with healthier things you should be eating. No matter what your goal is, you must give yourself plenty of time to figure out how you are going to succeed, step by step.

If you've still got candy in the cupboard on January 1st, it may be harder to kick off and stick to your healthy eating goals. Give yourself time to prepare for the lifestyle changes you want to make before day one.
If you've still got candy in the cupboard on January 1st, it may be harder to kick off and stick to your healthy eating goals. Give yourself time to prepare for the lifestyle changes you want to make before day one.

Your New Year's Resolutions are too vague.

Do you have specific targets attached to your New Year's Resolution? For example, if you have decided that this year, you want to pay down your debt, have you decided specifically what debt you want to pay down? A car loan? Your mortgage? Your credit cards? Here's a list of common New Year's Resolutions. One set is vague and general while the other one is more focused. Which goals do you think would be easier to achieve?

General
Specific
I want to lose weight this year.
To reach my goal of losing 20 lbs by the end of the year, I will go to the gym, three times a week for 60 minutes, stop drinking high sugar drinks and soda, eat a high fiber breakfast every day and limit dessert treats to once a week.
I want to buy my own place this year.
I have saved up $25,000 for a down payment so far. I will continue to add another $ 300.00 per paycheck to my savings so that I will have enough money to qualify for a mortgage on a condo with a maximum value of $300,000.
I resolve to have a cleaner home.
Every day I will spend 45 minutes doing light household chores. One weekends I will deep deep clean the bathroom and kitchen and do the dusinting an vacumming. Once a month I will tackle a big project such as cleaning out the garage or taking old clothes and unwanted householders items to a charity thrift shop.

You're doing it to please other people, not yourself.

Are your goals set by you and what you want for yourself or are you trying to live up to somebody else's expectations of who you should be? Think carefully about setting any resolutions that have been suggested to you by anyone other than a qualified health professional. If your doctor says you need to get more exercise because she is genuinely concerned about the adverse effects of being overweight, then by all means, make a plan to get healthier. But if a partner or spouse is asking you to change to make you more attractive, that's a goal that comes with a ton of baggage and a pile of insecurity.

There's a big difference between a doctor's advice to manage your weight and someone else telling you to go on a diet.
There's a big difference between a doctor's advice to manage your weight and someone else telling you to go on a diet.

You're afraid to fail.

Setting up high expectations for yourself may seem like a sensible way to keep yourself from pursuing mediocre goals. After all, if you set the bar too low than what's the point of making a resolution at all? There's nothing wrong with holding yourself to high standards, but if you're not open to

I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.

— Thomas A. Edison

You're taking yourself too seriously.

If you beat yourself up every time you stray from a goal of fall back on a bad habit, you'll have a hard time achieving your goals this year. Being hard on yourself is mentally and physically draining and it robs you of the energy and enthusiasm to keep moving towards your goal. The next time you make a mistake on your path to self improve, look for the humor in the situation. Laugh at yourself and don't take yourself so seriously.

You haven't asked for help from anyone.

The best way to reach your goals this year is to recruit a team of people that can stand behind you and offer encouragement and support.
The best way to reach your goals this year is to recruit a team of people that can stand behind you and offer encouragement and support.

Ask for help not because you are weak, but because you want to remain strong.

— Les Brown, American Author and Motivational Speaker

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