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3 Things That Are Wrong With New Year Resolutions

It's the end of January and as it may be the case for many of us, the New Year Resolutions we so keenly committed to 30 days ago, may have already become a memory of the past.

Perhaps you signed up for a new fitness programme at your local gym and only attended once.

Perhaps you bought a bunch of books you wanted to read and kept them on the shelf unopened.

Perhaps you planned to save a regular percentage of your income and found yourself having "unexpected expenses".

Whatever the case, why is it so easy to let our resolution slip through hands?

In this article, we explore 3 reasons why this is the case and a few strategies to solve it.


One of the main reasons I see people failing their resolutions is because they committed to too much.

Most of us can't go running a 4 hr marathon if we've not run a day in our life.

That's the equivalent of what I often see. People setting goals that are great and achievable in principle, but too distant and too large compared to current status.


Another frequent one is to set a resolution that is not specific enough.

Saying, "I want to get fit" does very little for the brain to actually know what action to take. Therefore, the brain sets itself up to "forget".


Less frequently, but enough to notice it, I see people who have made a resolution that is too complex to tackle given their current state.

By complex, in this case, I mean a resolution that depends on too many life domains to be catered to.

For example, setting a resolution that concurrently requires changes to one's relationship, financial status, living arrangements, may be too many changes for the change to be realistic.

There are more reasons, but in my experience, these are the three most frequent reasons I see resolutions fail.

And so, what strategies could we implement to increase the chances that our resolutions achieve their intended outcome?

One popular corporate tool is that of setting SMART objectives.

This is a strategy that guides reflection on one's objectives, so that they can be made Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound; all characteristics that, if deeply considered, would help directly address the challenges outlined above.

One reason why this may work could be explained by the psychological concept of Implementation Intentions.

We know that for the brain to enact goal-oriented behaviours, it needs to at least feel motivated and remember to do so.

When one articulates a future situation in as many details as possible and sets a clear intention towards it, the brain has a greater chance to embed the message and automate the processes required to achieve the objective.

Using the earlier example, saying, "I want to get fit" may be registered by the brain as to open and vague, therefore more likely to be "forgotten".

On the other hand, saying, "when I run twice at week every Tuesday and Thursday evening, for 20 minutes, for the next 3 months, I will feel fitter" the brain is much more likely to create hooks and triggers that promote the desired behaviour.

And so, if you find yourself having already let go of your New Year Resolutions and you feel compelled to be more purposeful:

  • pick one of the original resolutions

  • break it down into as many specific details as you can

  • schedule it in your calendar

and notice the difference!

Thank you for reading my article.

I base all my articles on real cases and research findings that are relevant to my clients. If would like to read other relevant posts, you can find them in our blog archive..

If you would like help with a similar challenge, you can book a free introductory consultation below and we can explore a way of working together.

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