Research shows that most New Year's resolutions fail by February 1st. While we all have the best intentions to make some positive changes in our lives, when it comes time for the rubber to hit the road – we get a flat tire.
Creating sustainable change can be hard, and many people bite off more than they can chew when it comes to goal setting. So how can we set intentions that set us up for success in both the short and long term? First, we have to understand why our best intentions fail in the first place.
In this article, we'll look at the top six reasons your New Year's resolutions fail and how you can set yourself up for success in the coming year.
6 Reasons New Year's Resolutions Fail
#1 You Don't Have a Plan Of Action
It's hard to get started on anything when you don't know where you're going. Making a resolution is one thing; coming up with a plan to follow through on that resolution is an entirely different one.
When it comes time to start working towards your goal, this moment will never feel like the right one. In other words, it's never going to feel like it's time to get going; tomorrow will always feel like the better option. That's why coming up with a plan of action is crucial for getting the ball rolling.
You may not know exactly how you're going to achieve your goal in every facet, but giving yourself some guidelines will get you out of the gates.
Creating a plan of action also helps you look ahead and anticipate what you will need to stay on track.
For example, if your resolution is to eat fewer processed foods and you know that you'll be tempted when you go to a certain friend's house, a plan of action could include having healthy snacks on hand when you're out and about.
Or if you want to start working out after work, it might be a good idea to bring a gym bag to the office, so you don't have to stop at home before hitting the health club.
#2 You Aren't Seeing Results, So You Quit
It can be very hard to stay motivated when you aren't seeing your progress. The problem is that changes can take time, and if you're looking for an immediate payoff, you're likely not going to see it – at least not in a way that will keep you motivated to keep going.
This is where tracking your progress can be incredibly useful.
When you track all the small steps you're taking and all the small changes that happen due to your efforts, you can look back and see how far you've come on your journey. Lasting changes don't happen overnight, but all of the steps it takes to make those changes stick happen incrementally, and you can celebrate those milestones on your path.
Tracking also allows you to assess what's working and what isn't. In turn, this will help you create a plan of action that is optimal for you and will yield the quickest results.
#3 Your Goals Aren't Specific
A big mistake many make is setting their sights on certain goals without fully thinking through what they actually want and why. For example, many people choose weight loss as their New Year's resolution, but this goal can take many forms.
Are you going to lose weight by sticking to a specific diet? By getting a gym membership? By taking more walks throughout the day?
Simply stating, "I want to lose weight," isn't going to do much to motivate you come January 1st.
On the other hand, if you make your goal more specific and targeted, you'll have an opportunity to create the aforementioned plan of action we discussed in #1.
Furthermore, while many people would like to see less fat on their body, weight loss can also include losing muscle mass and water weight. In this example, a more targeted goal would be to improve your metabolism to burn more fat. This means your action plan should include specific steps that would help you rev up your metabolism instead of just limiting food intake.
#4 You Don't Have Accountability
Holding accountability to someone other than yourself can be a huge motivating factor when it comes to making changes in your life.
Working with a coach, a friend, a partner, or a community toward your goal can push you to the next level when you feel like giving up. When someone else is watching, it ups the ante and can make the process feel like a game – you don't want to lose when you have an audience.
Even if you're not a competitive person, laying out what you want for yourself and sharing that with another person makes it feel more real. In effect, you're putting out there into the world what you want to do and how you want to change.
Research shows that when people tell someone that they hold in high regard about their goals, it can increase productivity toward the goal and greatly improves the chances of making changes. This person could be a coworker, mentor, or friend whose opinion you really respect.
#5 You Set Unrealistic Goals
It's really easy to make a New Year's resolution – it's a whole other thing to follow through.
A common downfall of goal-making is biting off more than you can chew. Yes, it would be fantastic if you went from couch potato to triathlete this year – but why not start with a morning jog?
Many people want to jump into what they think they "should" do without assessing what's actually available to them. If you want to set your ultimate (long-term) goal as something that feels currently out of reach, that's great. However, for your first step, try to make it something doable.
When you make realistic goals, you'll find that the motivation starts rolling in as you achieve your smaller goals, and before you know it, you'll be crossing the finish line at your first iron man – if that's your thing.
With that in mind, studies also show that it's equally important that your goals be challenging enough to provide a sense of accomplishment. If you just phone it in, the only person you're cheating is yourself. So find that sweet spot between meaningful and realistic, and you'll be well on your way to positive change.
#6 You're Caught Up In Doubt
The truth is that making changes can be overwhelming, and while at the moment that you make a resolution, you might feel like you have all the conviction in the world, doubt can be a strong saboteur.
This goes back to #5 above, where setting your goals and intentions needs to hit that sweet spot between attainable yet still impactful.
The best way to prove to yourself that you can make a change is by making one. This may mean that you need to break your goals down into parts. For example, if you want to start running in the morning, but currently, you're hitting snooze and jumping out of bed to make it to your first meeting, why not start with a walk in the morning instead? Or even getting up a half hour earlier to get used to not hitting snooze.
It's also helpful to remember that doubt is part of the game. Whenever you decide to make a change in your life, that little voice in your head is going to start chatting away, giving you all the reasons why you can't do it. Instead of taking this voice seriously, try to objectify it and acknowledge that you aren't alone – we all have a saboteur that likes to pop in just when we start moving in a positive direction.
When you engage the saboteur as you would an annoying toddler instead of some all-knowing truth-teller, it loses its power, and it frees you to take back control of your life.
Your New Year's Resolution Solution
At the end of the day, whether you cruise through January into February and beyond with your resolution intact is up to you.
However, there are certainly things you can do to improve your own motivation and keep you on track.
To review, some of the essential pieces to New Year's resolution success include:
- Having a support system
- Tracking your progress
- Setting challenging but reasonable goals
- Having a plan of action
- Getting specific with your goals
- Taking power back from the voice of doubt
This January, BioCoach is launching its BioCoach 32 program as a quest within the app. The program is specifically focused on helping you follow through with your New Year's goals by giving you all the tools and motivation necessary to carry you into the new year and beyond.
This program will reset your metabolism to kick-start weight loss, empowering you to keep going by providing results you can see and feel right out of the gates.
With tools like meal plans, exercise programs, coaching support, and biomarker tracking, you'll feel supported and know exactly what your next steps are, as well as how far you've come. This program is designed for New Year's resolution success – allowing you to track your progress while holding accountability and feel supported on your journey.
Let 2023 be the year that you finally make a fresh start and finally make the life changes you've been seeking. Let your old habits go, and take your first big step towards long-term success.
While studies show that around 64% of people abandon their New Year's resolutions by the end of January, that still leaves 36% of people that are successful. If you want to be included in that 36% this year, you know what steps you need to take to make sure your resolutions hold up.
Behavior change can be hard, but when you replace old, bad habits with new habits that support your well-being, your New Year's goals will become much more attainable.
With the help of the BioCoach 32 program, you'll be able to set goals, get motivated, set yourself up for success, and track your results with accountability on a regular basis.
- Dickson, Joanne M., et al. "Self-regulatory goal motivational processes in sustained new year resolution pursuit and mental wellbeing." International journal of environmental research and public health 18.6 (2021): 3084.
- Klein, Howard J., et al. "When goals are known: The effects of audience relative status on goal commitment and performance." Journal of Applied Psychology 105.4 (2020): 372.
- Locke, Edwin A., et al. "Goal setting and task performance: 1969–1980." Psychological bulletin 90.1 (1981): 125.