Why do New Year’s Resolutions fail?

Celebrations at the Marina Bay Jan 2011.

According to the Journal of Clinical Psychology, 50% of the population make New Year’s Resolutions.  By February, its become almost a ritual for newspaper columnists to whine about their failed new year’s resolutions.  Representative of 70% of the population in the same boat. Yours truly, included.


Why do New Year’s resolutions fail?

Why do change projects fail?

Change is hard.  Often times, we’ve been successfully following old behavior, that doing this “new thing” seems uncomfortable and unfamiliar.  After a while, we forget and slip back to the old, familiar way of doing things.

According to psychologist Richard Wiseman, in a study of 700 people, sticking a photo of your ideal or visualising your end state, as recommended by most self-help gurus, don’t work. Those strategies that worked included:

1. Break goals into small steps.

2. Reward yourself when you’ve reached one of the steps.

3. Tell friends about goals (Name and shame?)

4. Focus on the benefits of success

5. Keep a diary of progress


Other tips from Psychology Today:

  •  Focus on one resolution, rather several;
  • Set realistic, specific goals. Losing weight is not a specific goal. Losing 10 pounds in 90 days would be;
  •  Don’t wait till New Year’s eve to make resolutions. Make it a year long      process, every day;
  • Take small steps. Many people quit because the goal is too big requiring  too big a step all at once;
  •  Have an accountability buddy, someone close to you that you have to report to;
  • Celebrate your success between milestones. Don’t wait the goal to be finally completed;
  • Focus your thinking on new behaviors and thought patterns. You have to create new neural pathways in your brain to change habits;
  • Focus on the present. What’s the one thing you can do today, right now, towards your goal?
  • Be mindful. Become physically, emotionally and mentally aware of your inner state as each external event happens,moment by moment, rather than living in the past or future.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: