Why We Can’t Keep Our Resolutions

Why We Can’t Keep Our Resolutions

A new year (and especially a new decade) causes many of us to find new resolve to make changes in our lives. Whether your New Year’s Resolution involves common resolutions such as weight loss, or reading more books, or something more unique and personal, you may be wondering if you’re really going to meet your goal. 


Well, research says that the majority of us won’t keep our resolutions. Somewhere between 8 and 20% of us will meet our goal based on past statistics. Although that number isn’t encouraging, this, of course, does not mean that it is impossible to succeed. 


We hope that by discussing why we can’t keep our New Year’s resolutions, you will be prepared and more likely to proudly enjoy your success in 2020!


Here are seven reasons why we can’t keep our New Year’s Resolutions:


We didn’t mentally prepare 


Changing ingrained habits is not a simple task. How often do we not give resolutions a second thought until December 31st? Often, we make very lofty goals under the influence of holiday cheer and the influence of others. 


It is important to step back and consider the possibility of achieving our resolution. We’re not saying you shouldn’t make big goals, but that focusing on smaller changes is a way to help you work up to bigger goals. If you want to save $200 extra every month but only managed to save about $20 each month this year, $200 might be a huge jump. Saving $40 may be more realistic. Next year you can increase the number or even mid-year if it is going well. 


We didn’t make specific goals 


“Exercise more” is not a good goal! You may be surprised to hear a healthcare organization make such a statement, but less specific goals are more commonly abandoned. 


When we don’t make specific goals, it is easier to back out and not achieve them. It is better to think of our bigger goal as the result of following smaller, more specific goals. 


For example, if we set a specific measurable goal of completing a certain workout for a certain number of minutes for a certain number of days per week, we’re more likely to reach our goal of exercising more. 


We didn’t think about what we truly want 


We can get hung up on other’s goals or what we feel society says we should do. We live in a world that lives on social media and the majority of us aren’t portraying life in a completely realistic way. This can leave us feeling depressed, inadequate and like we should be doing more or behaving differently. 


Don’t jump on the latest fad diet or take up the latest trend for fear of missing out. If you recognize that you’re struggling with the expectations of others, perhaps finding new ways to celebrate what you love about yourself is what you truly need to do. 


Practice self-care by treating yourself to a relaxing massage every month. Discover a deeper appreciation of your talents by cultivating new hobbies. Finding happiness in who you are will cause you to make better decisions and “grow” more efficiently into someone who is happy and better able to meet goals. 


We didn’t think of the goal as a true lifestyle change 


It’s ok to want to lose a certain number of pounds before bikini season. Sometimes focusing too much on a specific date can be detrimental, however. If we realize that we aren’t going to lose weight by a specific date, we may give up long before the date arrives. 


Consider if what you want is truly a change you can stick to long term. Make smaller goals that build on one another. Know you may have mess-ups along the way, but don’t ever lose sight of your goal. 


We didn’t give it a good shot 


According to an article in Psychology Today, it takes an average of sixty-six days to form a good habit, and much less repetition to form a negative one. How we begin also seems to have an effect on our habit forming outcome. 1 Commit to following through with your resolution at least every day for a month no matter what. If you truly want to ditch it after that, do. However, more likely than not, you will decide it is worth it and be on your way to forming a new habit soon. 


We didn’t make a positive goal 


Have you ever told yourself not to do or think about something? The next thing you know, it’s all you can think about! Instead of making a goal to “not blow your money on coffee from the coffee shop every morning”, make a goal of “drinking coffee at home.”


Do you see what happened? These are essentially the same goals. However, by thinking of it in a positive light, you’re more motivated to want to follow through. Instead of dwelling on your favorite overpriced drink, now you’re thinking of ways you can get your “fix” at home. 


We didn’t replace the bad habit with a good one 


As we have discussed, we are “creatures of habit.” Getting rid of a bad habit is even more challenging if we aren’t replacing it with something good.


 If we want to try to put an end to an unhealthy eating habit, we need to have a healthy alternative ready to grab when the urge hits us. If we are trying to give up soda, for example, we may want to have another beverage readily available like bottled tea or flavored water. 


In the end, remember that January 1st is simply a day on the calendar. You may have setbacks, but do not quit. You may need to modify your goals due to circumstances beyond your control, but do not quit. You may mess up horribly tomorrow, but do not quit. 


 If you are considering making a change, it’s never too late! Don’t let a date on the calendar dictate you living a healthier, happier life. Take the time to consider your goals, plan, and crush them in 2020! 


Happy New Year! 



1 Rubin, Gretchen. Psychology Today. Stop Expecting to Change Your Habit in 21 Days.  21 Oct. 2009.




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