• Dr. Patty Hlava

4 Reasons Why New Year’s Resolutions Fail—and what to do to about it.

Every New Year, people around the world take a glance back and say something to

the effect of, “this year is going to be different!

This is the year that I will:

  • get in shape

  • get healthy

  • save money

  • lose weight

  • find another job

Gym membership purchases go up, and for a few short weeks, the gyms are full.

There is a spike in motivation for a few weeks into the new year, but inevitably, old

habits and routines return. The motivation wanes and the well-meaning resolution

is now lost among the distractions of daily life.

What happened?

Why do most resolutions fall apart within the first 2 months of the year?

1) The resolution doesn’t have a clear emotional link:

If our goal is coming from outside of us—without real meaning for

us—it is likely that we’ll lose motivation quite quickly. For example, if

losing weight is the goal, but we’re aiming for that because a doctor

told us we should, the energy we put toward that goal will be one of

shame, resentment, or simply frustration. If, however, we are able to

connect to a bigger “why”—a deeper desire for that outcome, we will

be able to tap into a greater drive toward achieving that goal. We can

strengthen our resolve when we are connected to “losing 15 pounds

so that I’ll have more energy and can play with my kids and have a

better relationship with them.”

2) The resolution is too vague:

When we state a goal, or resolve to follow though with something, it is

incredibly helpful to know exactly what it is that we are doing. What

does “getting in shape” look like? How much money do we want to

save? What kind of job do you want—and by when? The more specific

our vision, the more clear our plan of action can be.

3) Taking on too much at once:

Sometimes, starting on new resolutions can be exciting. We jump right

in and try to do it all: go to the gym every day for an hour, meditate for

30 minutes every day, eat green vegetables and give up sugar and

caffeine, AND read one book every week. Each of these things

individually are lovely, yet depending on how often you currently do

any of these things, trying to take on all of these changes at once will

quickly become overwhelming and unmanageable. It’s a set-up for

failure. Try taking one of these, and breaking it down into smaller,

more manageable steps.

A 1% shift toward the desired goal is movement that is sustainable and will actually increase your likelihood of success over time.

Try working out for 10 minutes, 3 times per week, meditating for 1-2 minutes per day, or reading 1 or 2 pages per day. Let the momentum of success move you forward in developing new habits.

4) Investing in the wrong things:

It’s really common for us to think that we need to buy a “thing” to help

us reach our goals: the gym membership, the diet book, or the

treadmill. While none of these things are inherently problematic, they

may not be what you really need to reach your goals. If spending

money on these things results in having more stuff that you’re not

using, then they are likely to only increase stress and feelings of guilt.

This is different than investing in your Self: hiring a coach or a guide

to help you gain clarity on your goals, or to help you troubleshoot

when things get sticky can be more beneficial in the long-term.

Investing in a class that will help you gain insights and grow your

perspective can offer more long-term gains as well.


1) Be clear on your WHY. Connect to the deeper meaning behind your

resolution. What makes it important to you?

2) Be specific: Make your resolution very clear and actionable. What do you really want to achieve? How will you know when you have completed/met your set goal?

Let it be measurable.

3) Set achievable and sustainable action steps: When you have your big why and specific resolution identified, break it down into small steps. Identify the smallest action that you can realistically commit to each day/week that will

inch you toward success. Set yourself for success—not overwhelm.

4) Invest in your Self: Invest in your Self. Invest your time, energy, and money in support, guidance, education, and resources that will support and encourage your growth, challenge your perspective, and feed your spirit. To reach our goals, we seldom need more thing —what we need is guidance and connection. Consider hiring a coach, taking a class, or participating in a group that shares similar goals.

Set yourself up for success. Spend a little time reflecting and getting clear on your resolutions and prepare for your best year—and best decade yet!

For a little support in your journey, schedule your free consultation today.

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