Why Your New Years Resolution Is Failing And What You Can Do About It

Let’s face it. 2020 started with the best of intentions.

A new decade. A fresh start.

The optimism and energy levels were palpable…

If you’re like most people though, now is about the time of year where commitment starts to fade. The euphoria and motivation that started your year has simmered down to a low boil.

Motivation is lower. Energy levels are lower. It’s harder to get yourself going in the morning let alone attack anything with enthusiasm.

So what gives?? This year was supposed to be different than all the others…surely…right???

Good news is, you’re not broken, you’re just human. And you’re not alone.

Truth is, the chips are stacked against you. In 2002, Norcross found less than 10% manage to keep their resolutions for even more than a few months.

Not only that. The older you get the harder it seems to keep them

“Even more discouraging is the statistic that only 14 percent of people over 50 actually achieve their resolution compared to 39 percent of people in their 20’s.” (Statisticsbrain, 2016)

Seems a little bit hopeless doesn’t it?

The good news, is all is not lost. And even better, YOU are the one that has control of where it goes from here.

Oddly enough, people have been researching this since about the time resolutions started, so there are a few little tips and tricks to help you be one of the numbers that keeps your resolutions going. And not one of the “cautionary tale” stats.

Here are a few helpful tips to keep you back on track with your goals 2020. There’s still plenty of time to make this your best year yet.

1. Baby Steps / Track Your Progress

It’s important to be realistic with your expectations, and to realise that progress comes in the small little steps you take forward. The little wins that add up to big changes over the long term.

Don’t get disheartened by the seeming lack of results in the short therm. The important part here is to have a way to track your progress. It let’s you know how far you’ve come.

“Track your progress. It is hard to be motivated when each individual action seems so small and change so slow. Tracking your successes, big and small, can spur you to new resolve. (Tunajek, 2007)

Success breeds success. The number of times people have come in saying they have had a bad couple of days expecting bad results, but manage to pull out some great numbers. The truth is, one bad meal, one missed workout, one bad day doesn’t discount the weeks of success you had around that.

Sometimes your head lies and it’s important to have an objective measure to show how far you’ve come.

2. It’s the Little Things 

As mentioned above – and a common theme – is to focus on the little wins, the habits, the daily actions that move you towards your goal. The old sayings of “the journey of 1000 miles begins and ends with one step” still hold true.

It’s important to break your goal / resolution down in to the little minor day to day tasks that are actionable. This is why people that are successful in finance always do well with exercise. They realise that relying on winning the lottery isn’t the most sound investment strategy to getting rich in the long term. It’s the magic of compounding interest, the small consistent habits you develop that guarantee success.

And give yourself time to develop these good habits

“In 2009, University College London (UCL) discovered that it takes an average of 66 days for the average person to form a new habit. (Knapton 2020)

Once you commit to your little daily tasks that move you in the right direction, make them a priority

Set the tasks toward completing your goal as non-negotiable. One can almost always find an excuse. However, if you make a nonnegotiable decision that’s based on a sound, logical reason rather than on how you feel at the moment, you will succeed.” (Tunajek 2007)

Another important point here is not to be too hard on yourself. As mentioned above, one missed workout, one meal choice off plan, doesn’t define you as a human being. The most successful people are the ones that live each day and do each task in line with their values, but also realise that nothing is perfect all the time. Success lies in getting yourself back on your path every time you find you’ve strayed a little.

3. Support Network

“A University of California study also found that those who checked in with friends weekly were far more likely to meet their objectives.” (Knapton 2020)

Get yourself a friend, a partner or even a support group specific to your interests and goals (Tunajek 2007)

One of the big factors I have found works best with clients in the Silver Fox Program is we are all part of a small and supportive community.

Having some form of external support, whether it be from family, friends, a small group, or even just a supportive coach or trainer can make all the difference.

4. Be Accountable

This part flows naturally on from a couple of the above points. Tracking your progress, having a support network around you, all help to keep you accountable for your actions.

Action without consequence has no meaning.

Having some sort of accountability dramatically increases your chance of success.

I’ve always stuck to the idea of fortnightly weigh ins / check ins / revisions. This keeps people accountable, no matter during good phases or bad. It’s good to see where you come from and where you go, but it’s even better to have that accountability for your actions.

Don’t ever underestimate the power of accountability when it comes to sticking to a training plan either. The amount of clients that have said to me one of the main reasons they have sessions booked in is make sure they actually turn up. It’s so easy to get caught up in the day to day. Meetings, lunches, overtime, etc. If you don’t prioritise it, it doesn’t happen. Having a trainer sometimes and being accountable to someone elses time can be a huge boost to your success rate.

5. Don’t Be Too Hard on Yourself and Give It Time to See Progress

Give yourself a break and allow for imperfection. No one is exactly on target all the time and nobody’s perfect! Learn from your mistake and move on. (Tunajek, 2007)

Don’t discount the little wins you most likely have taken for granted. The small little things you do each day that are working you towards your results.

“It’s important that people feel like every little bit of self-improvement counts. Nobody can train for a marathon in a day, nor can they pay off their student loans with a single check;” (M Ufberg, 2019)

Big change comes from doing the little things often. Not the big things done a few times. 

This goes for the positives and negatives. One bad day. One bad meal. Doesn’t define you. It’s the little wins, the small things. Dare I say the habits that make you. One day at a time. One meal at a time. Death by 1000 cuts also works for you, not just against you.

It’s good to see the reward for these little things with some consistent checking in and tracking of your progress. Seek the support of a like minded group, a coach, a friend, whatever it is to help keep you going.

Start of by setting yourself a goal for today. Finish today with a few of your little boxes ticked. Even if that’s one better meal. An extra bit of walking. Your gym workout. Whatever it may be. Give yourself credit for them. Tick it off your list and focus on all the positives you will achieve today.


New Year’s Resolutions: A Fantasy of Self-Reform?

Sandra Tunajek

AANA Journal 61 (1), 28, 2007

Norcross, John & Mrykalo, Marci & Blagys, Matthew. (2002). Auld Lang Syne: Success Predictors, Change Processes, and Self-Reported Outcomes of New Year’s Resolvers and Nonresolvers. Journal of clinical psychology. 58. 397-405. 10.1002/jclp.1151.