Realistic New Year's Resolutions | RMHP Blog



Realistic New Year's Resolutions

Why Do New Year’s Resolutions Fail?


If you’ve ever made a New Year’s resolution, there’s a high likelihood you didn’t achieve your goal or create lasting new habits. You wouldn’t be in the minority, either. Keeping resolutions is hard, but why do they fail so often?


Let’s explore the psychology of why New Year’s resolutions are so hard to keep. And, we’ll offer some suggestions and frameworks setting attainable goals and more likely to last throughout the year.


Why so many New Year’s resolutions fail

By some estimates, only 12 percent of resolution-setters will follow through. The odds are stacked against us for a number of reasons, according to Psychology Today:


  • Expectations aren’t realistic. Saying “I’ll quit smoking cold turkey” isn’t usually an effective way to quit smoking. Instead, try a series of smaller, realistic goals.
  • The resolutions aren’t properly defined. Vague resolutions aren’t very useful. Instead of saying, “I’ll work out more often,” try “I’ll lift weights for 30 minutes three times per week.”
  • We don’t have the right mindset. Changing the way we live is tough work, and mental preparation is key. Be ready to work through the tough stuff.
  • Our time management skills are lacking. Managing time effectively isn’t about fitting more into a day, it’s about figuring out life’s big priorities first, and then arranging our schedules accordingly.
  • We’re all distracted. This quote from the Psychology Today article perfectly sums up the problem of distraction. “Distractions cause you to miss many opportunities in life. They make you feel busy and tired all the time, and frustrated at the lack of progress despite your best efforts.”


Realistic New Year’s resolutions

If you want to keep your resolutions, you have to get strategic about how you set them in the first place. Remember the S.M.A.R.T. (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound) acronym when thinking about what you want to achieve over the next year. You should define exactly what you want to accomplish and create a detailed plan for how and when you’ll get there.


If you’re not sure how S.M.A.R.T. goal setting works, read through these two general examples.


A resolution to lose weight

“Lose weight” is vague. Try, “I will lose 5 pounds by March 1st.”


With that resolution in mind, the next step is to map out how you’ll get there. Losing 5 pounds will look different for everyone. What do you need to do to meet that goal? You might turn your daily latte routine into a cup of standard coffee, paired with a 30 minute high intensity workout, three times per week.


A resolution to eat better

“Eat better” is another very non-specific goal. Instead, make a resolution like, “I will make work lunches at home three days per week instead of eating out.”


Then, make a list of ideas for healthy lunches to bring to work those three days each week, including the ingredients you’ll need. You’ll be prepared and less likely to revert back to your take out ways.