Why people fail at their New Year Resolutions within 2 weeks .. and how you can be one of the successful ones!

If you’ve already given up on your New Year resolutions, you’re not alone. Research shows that around 81% of people simply DON’T achieve what they set out to on January 1.

With the best of intentions, many of us fail at our resolutions. And a whopping 25% fall off the wagon within 2 weeks!


The start of the year is a metaphoric line in the sand, a time to renew, start over, refresh.  Many people take time out over or around the festive break.  It’s a time to reflect on the year that was, and plan for the year ahead.  And it’s in this creative state that we often set our resolutions … to get fit, eat more healthily, spend more time family, get a better paying job, start a new business…

Then we get back into our ‘normal’ life.  Life that is far too busy with competing priorities, too many demands and not enough time to get everything done.  The things that get pushed to the bottom of the pile are our personal goals.

Another reason people fail at their resolutions is that the goal we set is just too daunting and we don’t know how to start.  So we don’t.  We put it off for another day.  And before long we’re back into another year with that same desire still on the list, not getting done.

Self improvement is at the core of our being.  We are goal seeking creatures.  Let’s face it, who wants to be doing the same thing we were 20 years ago?  Most of us want to grow, improve, learn, prosper, develop.  It’s part of being human.

So if you do want to finally nail that goal that you set for yourself on January 1, here’s the secrets of the 8% who actually achieve their goals in the year they set them:

Simplify your goal.

Rather than having a huge list of things you want to achieve, set yourself an overarching theme for the year.  For example, “This year is about healthy choices”, or “This year is for consolidating”. From here, you can set smaller attainable goals that meet this overall desire.

Having a huge goal can be so mentally daunting that you never start.  So create a theme instead.  This way it becomes a lifestyle change rather than a task on your to-do list.  And for me, just puttin’ it out there, my theme for this year is to ‘Generate income online’.

Get super clear.

Ambiguity creates tension.  The more clear you are about what you want, the easier it is for your mind to accept the goal, get excited by it and ultimately, action it. Saying you want to ‘Lose weight’, although noble as a health goal, is simply too vague.    What exactly do you want to achieve? Do you want to lose weight or tone up? If it’s weight you want to lose, how much? By when?  Your goals need to be clear and measureable.

The journey to get to your goal also needs to be enjoyable.  This will help you stick with it.  Perhaps try to ‘cut out chips and cheese until March’ rather than ‘lose 5 kgs by March 1’.  This way you can keep that one glass of wine in, as long as you’ve cut out the chips and cheese.

Keep your goals Up-Front and Centre

Out of sight is out of mind (particularly if you’re highly visual).  Unless I’ve set myself reminders, I’m likely to forget my goals in the hubbub of the day. Vision Boards, using task reminders or calendar appointments, or having a daily to-do list are all things that will help you stay focused and on-track.

Try using a 90 Day Action Plan that is on your desk as the first thing you look at every day.  Think about where you can place reminders that you don’t ignore.   I have a copy of my vision board in the boot of my car so that every time I take out my shopping bags, I’m reminded of the goals I’ve set for myself.

Getting an Accountability Buddy can also help.  Share your goals with someone you respect who will hold you accountable to your goals and time-frames.

We run a Total Focus program at AchieverNet that will keep you true to your personal and professional goals across a 90-Day Challenge.  So if you’re sincere about wanting to create change, contact us.

Believe you have the will-power you need!

The web is full of quotes on self-belief.  These cater for the great percentage of people who doubt their own ability.  When it comes to achieving goals, a lot of people simply don’t believe they’ll succeed.  So they succumb to procrastination, giving up or giving in. And they let that one slip up get the better of them.

I’m sure you’ve seen people eat that one indulgent treat, only then to say, “There goes my diet, I’ll start again tomorrow, so I may as well enjoy today.  Yes, I’ll have another”.  We blame our lack of will-power for sabotaging us, then give in to guilt and allow negative emotions to de-rail our goals.

Scientists have found that our brains have plasticity.  This makes them malleable and adaptive to changing circumstances.  Our will-power is also malleable.  We can change it.  If we think we have no will-power, we won’t.  If we believe we have the capacity for strong will-power, we are more likely to say “I’ve had one treat and it was great, that’s more than enough for today as a special treat.  Thanks but no”.

If you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re absolutely right!
Henry Ford.

So to summarise, if you’ve given up on your new year’s resolutions, consider if they’re worth re-instating. If you set them, it’s because they’re important.  So dig them out of the rubbish bin, dust them off and get going again.

Re-frame your key resolution into a theme for the year, create baby-steps as a focus point each month, and keep them where you can see them.  And believe that this year, you will finally achieve this Mother!

P.S. If you’re into the research, John Norcross from the Uni of Scranton followed how many people kept their resolutions – at the end of 2 years, only 19% had reached their goals and stuck with them.  At the end of the year in which they were set, only 8% manage to attain their goal.