Give yourself some fresh positive habits - motivational handwriting on a napkin with an apple

Why New Year’s Resolutions Fail and What You Can Do Instead

It’s that time of the year again, when we are out with the old, in with the new. Or is it? Every second article you see posted in January is one way or another related to New Year’s Resolutions, and that is not a coincidence. I have never been one to put too much faith in resolutions myself, so out of curiosity, I decided to look into some data regarding New Year’s resolutions to better understand what attracts people to them, especially given their low success rate and likelihood to fail.

What do people wish for?

To understand better why people like resolutions, I turned to statistics on what people make resolutions about. According to Statista, the New Year’s resolutions rank in popularity in the following order:

  • Manage finances better – not surprisingly and music to the ears of financial advisors of course.
  • Eating Healthier – this is a very close second and a one of the resolutions that makes most sense, since most people wake up from holiday cookie coma around the beginning of January, rudely awakened by that number on the scale in their bathroom.
  • Exercise More/Lose Weight – Hello, gym membership, fancy yoga pants the size of your weekly salary and gallon water bottles with highly motivational quotes to stay hydrated.
  • Improve Mental Well-Being– Deep breathing exercises, meditation apps and “Namaste” for the win.
  • Social Connections and Relationships – this birthday card to your half-cousin’s aunt on your mother’s side won’t write itself.
  • Learn a New Skill – those soap and candle making kits are literally flying off the shelves.
  • Be More Environmentally Friendly – the BOB (bring your own bag) fever is here!

New Year’s Resolutions summed up in 3 points

We can literally sum all resolutions up to 3 main points:

  1. BE SMARTER – know more things, make better decisions, be more capable and respected
  2. LOOK BETTER – physically, mentally, emotionally anything that will make you happy, attractive and loved
  3. SAVE THE PLANET – have to think of the kids, right?

Sounds like a bit from the Miss Universe Pageant, right? What could go wrong, indeed!
These are very human and admirable things for people to want to improve in their lives. And yet there is something odd. According to Google Trends for the past 5 years, New Year’s Resolutions related terms are popular from the beginning of December until about the beginning of January each year. Here comes the interesting part. Around January 14th, only two weeks after New Year’s Day, another search query begins to spike “Why New Year’s Resolutions Fail?”

So, why do New Year’s Resolutions Fail?

That is the million-dollar question! The point is resolutions fail for many reasons.

  • Unrealistic goals or expectations – you are not dropping 12 dress sizes in 10 days, sorry.
  • No clear vision or plan – wanting to make a change without putting the thought and effort into how to get there is more like making a wish, than setting things in motion to actually achieve the desired change.
  • Not setting your intentions right – sticking to a great plan without setting your intentions right is not going to get you there.
  • Make it or break it attitude – we are all work in progress and throwing the towel with the slightest bump won’t help.
  • Not celebrating the small victories – achieving ambitious goals without recognizing the small victories makes “winning” impossibly hard.
  • There is a way but there is no will – many people think that they want something, until they actually have to put in the work for it. That’s when the excuses come in.

Point of the matter is, reasons why the New Year’s Resolutions fail vary from deeply personal to annoyingly vague, and to add to that, the term “New Year’s Resolution” carries a ton of social and internal pressure as well, which could also be a reason to fail.

So, if not resolutions, then what works?

Thanks for sticking to the good part when we take expensive cookies out!
It’s all about good habits.
A habit is not something you make a resolution on every December.
A habit is that repetitive subconscious behavior that we exhibit without consideration but with great consistency.
And that is exactly what will get you where you want to be in life. When your growth mindset is subconsciously set to bring you success in one area or another and your behaviors follow suit without you even thinking twice about them. Because that is how good habits work, when putting in the work becomes part of you and you are not going against your nature to force yourself to do something out of character (or out of habit) but you make that behavior part of you, your mindset and your actions.

So instead of asking yourself what New Year’s resolutions you will (not) stick to in 2022, ask yourself this:

What new habits do your goals need, to make a difference in the overall outcome?

See the difference here? It’s your GOALS that need those habits. How are you going to get there?

Thinking about making smart money choices?

What habit will get you there? What have you done to educate yourself on smart money choices? How often do you check your finances? There are many apps you can do that very quickly directly in your bank account. Have you set a budget?

Thinking about exercising?

What habits will get you there? What physical activity brings you joy? Find something that you genuinely enjoy and can see yourself doing for the rest of your life to keep in shape. Do you like swimming? Do you like walks? Do you like lifting weights? How can you make a routine part of you if you hate it? Find something that inspires you! Heck, I love running on the treadmill while watching cooking shows. Some call it counterproductive, I call it a carrot.

Thinking about eating healthy?

What habits will get you there? Start with how you are doing your shopping. Do you use lists? Do you use apps? How do you make your food choices? Do everything related to your goal with intention, and it will become a part of you subconsciously. Lasting, sustainable change should not make your life miserable.

Thinking about improving your mental health?

What habits will get you there? What are your triggers? How are you going to get past them? How can you change your routine to lower stress and improve your mental well-being? How do you prioritize your tasks? What number on that priority list is you? Make your well-being a priority long term. Short spurts of self-care won’t cut it.

Thinking about improving your relationships?

What habits will get you there? Don’t put a Band-Aid on a tumor. Dig deeper and figure out what the issues are, before you start fixing them. Yes, it can be uncomfortable but healthy relationships lie on a solid foundation of honesty, respect and appreciation. Everything else is empty promises and not a lasting change. When was the last time you thanked your loved ones for something unexpected, maybe even mundane? How do YOU show care and what your loved ones need to feel cared for? Are those two things aligned or completely opposite?

Thinking about improving your skills?

What habits will get you there? Start with how you learn. Are you a visual learner? Do you learn best by reading or listening to instructions? Before you start making life decisions to earn your keep with woodcarving candleholders, test the waters. See if what you think you are good at is actually what you enjoy. If you find the right fit, you won’t work a day in your life.

What’s your vision like?

Not your actual vision, the vision for your future. Best way to create new habits is to see yourself get there.
See yourself being healthier, loved and appreciated. See yourself in the relationship you want. See yourself reaching your potential to the smallest detail. See it up close and personal, so you can taste it.
You have to BELIEVE in what you want to ACHIEVE. Focus on planting thoughts that serve you, that move you towards the goal you want to manifest.
Best way to do that? Create a vision board!!! What’s that you would ask?
And that is the topic I will bring to you next, because it is as important as setting your habits with the right intention.

In the meantime, consider enrolling in my Change Your Mindset, Change Your Life webinar, which will help you set yourself for success for 2022. Bonus? You get my free e-book that will walk you through how to make a lasting change in your life. Hope to see you there!

And remember to always Make Things Happen!

~ Stay Blessed,


Chart: America’s Top New Year’s Resolutions for 2020 | Statista