Common Reasons Many Resolutions Fail – Zenwise Common Reasons Many Resolutions Fail – Zenwise
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Common Reasons Many Resolutions Fail

Listen, if there is anything we love, it’s bettering ourselves. On the surface Resolution Season appears to be all about making the new year better than the last, but, the fact of the matter is that resolutions often fail.

There are a lot of reasons that people can’t stick with their resolutions. What it really boils down to is that they are often bold claims (that many make after a couple glasses of champagne on New Year’s Eve) without a lot of reflection or planning behind them. 

A small study, that followed people who had made New Year’s resolutions, revealed some not-so-inspiring statistics of who sticks with their resolution after the ball drops on New Year’s Eve. 

  • Just two weeks into the New Year, 29% had already fallen off the wagon
  • At the six-month mark, over 54% were no longer on course to accomplish their New Year Resolution. 

Perhaps even more grim, nearly 80% of people admitted to abandoning their New Year’s resolutions by February every year, according to Forbes.

Don’t lose hope just yet!

You are not alone if you are using this time between the holidays and New Year’s Eve to reflect on the past year and envision what you want the next twelve months to look like.

Did those reflections trigger a desire for change in the new year? First, let’s erase ‘resolution’ from your vocabulary and start thinking about how to set goals that inspire YOU.



You may have heard the term ‘smart goals,’ at some point in the past. It’s an acronym that stands for designing your goals to be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Sure, these are some great guidelines, but they aren’t enough to set yourself up for success. Keep reading for common reasons people fail to achieve their goals and how to avoid them as you map out the new year. 


Not Being Honest About Your Starting Point

Simply put, you can’t know where you’re going if you don’t know where you are right now. Take the time to reflect on your health and wellness, daily routines, nutrition, movement practices, relationships, etc., and determine if certain aspects of your life need to be adjusted in the new year. 

Taking the time to reflect now will also help you define your goals because there will be limits on what you can do based on your starting point and the available time. For example, if you aren’t already an avid runner, it would be unrealistic to set a goal of running a marathon by May. Instead, if running a marathon is something you want to do, you would want to set more realistic short-term goals that build up to your larger goal of running a marathon by XYZ date.


Trying To Be Someone Else

Your favorite celebrity eats ABCD diet, trains Crossfit/Pilates/Running 6 days a week and has a well-documented health and wellness routine. So we take that blue print and set our goals to match, we’ve all done it at least once. While we would all love to be Jennifer Lopez/Dwayne Johnson/An Olympian/That person you look up to, your experiences and person deserve to be honored when you are setting goals. A goal that is not in line with who you are, your values, is negative from the start. While some people may thrive with a ‘tough love’ or ‘all or nothing’ approach, most research supports the importance of positivity and a healthy mindset in order to achieve. So please, remember to be kind to yourself when you are setting goals.


Setting Goals That Aren’t Actually Exciting

Many new year’s resolutions are made for the sake of it, with little thought behind the why or how. When you are taking time to reflect before identifying your goals, also take the time to think about what is truly important to you. What goals may even scare you a little, and what goals would truly make you proud to achieve? Motivation can come and go. However, identifying and establishing your ‘why’ will help you when you feel like giving up on a goal. 


Not Honoring Your Mindset

Making a change can be tough. Many people struggle to stay positive about new targets if they are starting out in a negative place mentally. If you have struggled with staying positive while chasing a goal in the past, or fallen off the wagon, you may want to try a different approach. Instead, take a step back and approach your goal/s in a way that will help you gain confidence and motivation as you grow. 

Here are a few strategies to consider when your mindset isn’t as positive as you would like.

  • Really reflect and focus on your ‘why’
  • Break your goal/s into smaller segments so that the achievements build upon each other and carry you forward
  • Consider setting some mental health and/or self-care goals to complement your other goals. For instance, maintaining a daily journaling practice, seeking support, or even committing to one long unplugged bath every week.


Not Being Specific Enough

Vague resolutions reflect how little thought went into setting them. In turn, that lack of thought and value makes them easy to break. They are also huge targets, which means there is a wide range of approaches that you could take, making it difficult to get started. By writing detailed and measurable goals, you are providing yourself with a clear path forward.


Setting Goals That Depend On Things Out Of Your Control

Ever had a friend say they would ‘meet the one this year’ or other goals that are dependent on circumstances out of their control? Are you that friend? We’ve all done it at least once. But do your best to avoid setting goals that are beyond your control or make you believe that you have control when you really don’t or shouldn’t. 

An example of a common goal that could be considered questionable is, ‘I want to lose XYZ lbs. this year.’ You see, ultimately, everybody’s bodies are different. What might be an achievable goal for person A might not be an achievable goal for person B. This brings us to our final point…


Focusing On Outcomes

When you set a goal, such as wanting to lose XYZ lbs. in the new year, you are not only being vague but you are also focused on the outcome and not the behaviors that will get you there. 

You do not always have control over the outcome, but you do have control over your behaviors and responses. 

Writing goals that are centered on the behaviors helps you define the path forward and maintain your resolve. What’s more, it will leave you feeling more fulfilled by each action and achievement.

Now that you know how to set goals in a way that establishes a path towards success it’s time to do some reflecting to identify what you really want to work towards. And, if you are curious about adding new routines to your lifestyle, be sure to explore our blog for information and the research behind practices such as breathwork and journaling. 

Here’s to chasing new goals and building your best life!

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