April 12, 2024
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Why Most People Don’t Fulfill Their Resolutions and How to Be the Exception

Did you ever want to achieve something badly and then commit yourself to doing something about it, only to fall short, perhaps even spectacularly?

If you answered yes, I have some “good” news for you. You’re not alone. Hardly so.

The most common example of this “want-commit-fail” continuum is, of course, New Year’s resolutions. Common resolutions like exercising more, eating healthier, and saving money often top the list. While statistics on fulfilling New Year’s resolutions vary, studies suggest that a significant portion of people struggle to stick to their resolutions long-term.

According to research conducted by the University of Scranton, only about 8% of people achieve their New Year’s resolutions. This low success rate is often attributed to various factors such as unrealistic goals, lack of specific plans and insufficient commitment.

Moreover, a study by YouGov, a global public opinion and data company, found that around 80% of people who make New Year’s resolutions fail to keep them beyond the second week of February. This suggests that maintaining resolutions becomes increasingly challenging as time passes.

Whether it’s the New Year that’s fueling your desire for change or the “hard realities” of life (no savings, poor health, bad relationships, etc.), fulfilling resolutions can be challenging. There are several reasons many people struggle to fulfill their resolutions:

  1. Unrealistic Goals: Setting overly ambitious or vague goals without a clear plan can set individuals up for failure. Unrealistic expectations make it harder to maintain motivation and stay committed.
  2. Lack of Specificity: Resolutions that lack specificity or measurable targets make it challenging to track progress and stay accountable.
  3. Poor Planning and Strategy: Failing to create a detailed plan or strategy to achieve resolutions can lead to inconsistency and abandonment of goals.
  4. Lack of Accountability and Support: Not involving others or having a support system to encourage and hold oneself accountable can make it easier to give up when facing challenges.
  5. Setting Too Many Resolutions: Attempting to tackle multiple resolutions simultaneously can overwhelm and spread one’s focus too thin, making it harder to achieve any of them.
  6. Lack of Motivation and Commitment: Initial enthusiasm often fades over time, leading to a loss of motivation and dedication to the resolutions.
  7. Resisting Change or Habit Formation: Breaking old habits and forming new ones takes time and consistent effort. Some people find it challenging to adapt to new behaviors.
  8. Perfectionism and All-or-Nothing Mindset: Believing that any setback or deviation from the plan is a failure can lead to discouragement and abandoning the resolutions altogether.
  9. External Factors and Unforeseen Circumstances: Life events, stressors, or unexpected challenges can disrupt the pursuit of resolutions, leading to demotivation and abandonment.
  10. Failure to Reassess and Adjust: Without periodic evaluation and adjustment of goals, individuals may continue with unrealistic or unattainable resolutions, leading to eventual abandonment.

The good news is that there are strategies to help individuals increase their chances of success. Here are some tips:

  1. Set Specific, Realistic Goals: Clearly define resolutions with specific, achievable targets. For instance, instead of saying, “I want to exercise more,” specify, “I will exercise for 30 minutes, three times a week.”
  2. Break it Down: Divide larger goals into smaller, manageable steps. Create a timeline or monthly/weekly milestones to track progress and stay motivated.
  3. Make a Plan: Outline how you’ll achieve your resolutions. Create a detailed plan with actionable steps. For example, if the resolution is to eat healthier, plan meals, create a grocery list, and schedule cooking times.
  4. Use a Support System: Share your resolutions with friends, family, or a support group. Having people to encourage you and hold you accountable can significantly boost your motivation.
  5. Track Progress: Keep a journal or use apps to monitor your progress. Seeing how far you’ve come can reinforce your determination and provide a sense of accomplishment.
  6. Be Flexible and Adaptive: Life can be unpredictable. If obstacles arise, be ready to adjust your plans rather than abandon your resolutions altogether.
  7. Focus on Habits: Cultivate habits that align with your resolutions. Consistency in behavior can lead to long-term changes. For instance, if your resolution is to read more, aim to read a few pages every day.
  8. Celebrate Milestones: Acknowledge and celebrate your achievements along the way. Rewarding yourself for hitting milestones can keep you motivated.
  9. Stay Positive and Resilient: Understand that setbacks are part of the process. Instead of being discouraged, learn from setbacks and use them as opportunities to grow stronger.
  10. Reassess and Adjust: Regularly review your goals and progress. If necessary, modify your resolutions to better suit your current circumstances or aspirations

Remember, resolutions to change your behavior are about self-improvement and growth. It’s essential to be patient and kind to yourself throughout the journey.

Do you want to experience transformation and finally do those things that you’ve been putting off? Don’t wait another day to take control of your destiny! Join The Success Roadmap and embark on your own transformational journey.

Success is not a destination; it’s a journey, and it begins with setting the right goals. By the end of the Success Roadmap, you’ll not only have the tools and knowledge to set and achieve your goals but also the confidence and determination to pursue your dreams relentlessly.

I really hope you’ll join us! Learn more about The Success Roadmap and register at ImpactfulCoaching.com/Success.


Naphtali Hoff, PsyD, is an executive coach and president of Impactful Coaching and Consulting (ImpactfulCoaching.com). He can be reached at 212.470.6139 or at [email protected].

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