Why New Years Resolutions fails ? And how to fix it ?

Turn New Year's fails into wins with smart, actionable tips.


Unpack why New Year's resolutions fail and how to finally make them stick.


  • Positive mindset, resilience, and support aid in achieving resolutions.
  • Viewing goal lapses as growth opportunities strengthens resolve for success.
  • SMART goals and progress tracking increase resolution success for poor planners.
  • Simon Sinek's "Golden Circle" concept reveals the purpose behind goals.
  • Positive mindset, resilience, and support aid in achieving resolutions.
Ah, the age-old tradition of making a list of all the good things we want to do better and more productive in the next year—our New Year's resolutions. Whether it's promising to cut out junk food or going to the gym more than once a month, we've all been there, done that, and purchased the T-shirt—which, unfortunately, was likely meant to be a sports shirt but now lives as pajamas.

However, there is a catch: even though we have the best intentions, data indicates that an astounding eighty percent of New Year's resolutions will be forgotten by February.

Ironically, I am a poster kid for procrastination. Since the beginning of the year, I've been battling this post, making it the only one on this site. For more than four months, I've been working on this piece about overcoming procrastination. So, who better than yours indeed to lead us out of this never-ending loop of delays?

The first step is as easy as it sounds: self-reflection! Identifying the issue's root cause will help you develop better plans of action and methods for resolving it.

I've made a quiz you're welcome to take to accomplish this. Five quick questions aim to reveal your habits and provide insights that might improve how you go about your New Year's resolutions moving forward. You should get a pencil and paper and write down your responses. Trust me, we will come back to this, and you will understand why.

⭐ The idea of this blog post is not just to give you trivial information. It's really about providing you with real value and informative content in an interactive way. Depending on your answers to the quiz, I have adapted specific sections to provide you with perspectives, techniques, and advice for successfully achieving your New Year's resolutions. No matter where you find yourself on the resolution spectrum, I have gathered practical advice to help us make this year our best.

Quiz: Unravel the mystery of your New Year's resolution drop

Let's face it—I'm not the only one playing tag with procrastination this year. So let's stop running, put on our "figurative gloves," and dive right into beating this beast of procrastination together, shall we?

First, let's play detective and figure out why our New Year's resolutions often die with the rest of our dreams.What did scientists have to say about the subject? I looked at the scientific literature. While I was researching and reading, two experts stood out:
Martin Oscarsson is a third-year PhD student in psychology; his studies concern stress and other work-related mental illnesses among adults with ADHD. He is a licensed psychologist with a master's degree in psychology from Stockholm University. He has previously worked as a psychologist at a neuropsychiatric clinic in Stockholm, primarily doing neurodevelopmental assessments for patients of all ages.
Dr. John Norcross is a Distinguished Professor of Psychology at the University of Scranton, a Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at SUNY Upstate Medical University, and a board-certified clinical psychologist.
The subject of New Year's resolutions receives considerable attention on blogs, forums, and YouTube videos. Still, the question itself receives little consideration in articles or scientific research.
The notion of approach-focused goals and avoidance-focused goals emerged as two major themes in the articles.

Approach-focused goals and avoidance-focused goals

The hope of benefits and rewards drives approach-oriented goals, which involve moving toward good outcomes and desired results.

In contrast, avoidance-oriented goals are motivated by the desire to escape harm or negative consequences, focusing on avoiding bad outcomes.

Goals that focus on approach are proactive and positive, while goals that focus on avoidance are reactive and based on fear.

To give you a better idea, here are some examples of goals that are all about approaching something and goals that are all about avoiding it:
Approach-Oriented Goals:
Avoidance-Oriented Goals:
"I will exercise for at least 30 minutes daily to improve my physical fitness and overall health."
"I will quit smoking to reduce the risk of developing health problems associated with tobacco use."
"I will enroll in a language course to learn a new language and expand my communication skills."
"I will limit my consumption of sugary snacks to improve my dental health and prevent cavities."
"I will save a specific amount of money each month to build a financial safety net for the future."
"I will avoid procrastination and complete tasks promptly to reduce stress and improve productivity."
"I will dedicate time each day to practice mindfulness and reduce stress in my daily life."
"I will cut down on screen time before bedtime to improve my sleep quality and overall well-being."
"I will volunteer at a local charity to give back to the community and make a positive impact."
"I will refrain from negative self-talk and practice self-compassion to boost my mental health and self-esteem."
As you can see, approach-oriented goals focus on achieving positive outcomes. In contrast, avoidance-oriented goals are focused on preventing undesirable outcomes.

People can effectively work toward their growth and well-being by setting clear goals that align with their reasons for achieving things.

A study by Oscarsson et al. (2020) looked at New Year's resolutions and discovered that approach-oriented goals, which involve working toward good outcomes, are better at keeping resolutions than avoidance-oriented goals.

Many people from the public took part in the study's experiment. They were given different amounts of help and information on how to set good goals.

People who set approach-oriented goals were likelier to keep their New Year's resolutions than those who set avoidance-oriented goals.

The success rates for goals focused on approach were 58.9%, and for goals concentrated on avoidance, they were 47.1%. Research has shown that taking a positive and proactive approach towards goals increases the chances of success.
💡 Important takeaway : It's important to realize that we fail to accomplish our goals because we may have chosen and recorded them with the wrong approach from the beginning.

🎯Let's play a quick game...just for fun :

Slip up

Although many start on the wrong foot, many do not make the same mistake and choose to orient their goals more positively. However, is that enough in the long run?

You might already be one step ahead of me, guessing the answer is a resounding "nope"! And you'd be right. It needs to be more, even according to the professor, clinical psychologist, and author John Norcross!

Norcross and Vangarelli (1988) ran an extensive study that followed 200 people for two years to discover what keeps people from breaking their New Year's resolutions. With only 19% of individuals maintaining their resolutions for two years, the main findings demonstrate that success rates decline with time.

Reasons such as stress, negative emotions, and a lack of control were common in those who failed to keep their resolutions. The research emphasizes the significance of comprehending our coping mechanisms, long-term change maintenance, and the typical progression of "slips" and failures when attempting to change our behavior independently.

What exactly is a slip, then?
A slip occurs when someone does something they are attempting to avoid doing, but only once. You won't necessarily end up right back where you started when you use them. In the grand scheme, they are just setbacks to behavior change.

Feelings of helplessness, emotional ups and downs, social pressure, and interpersonal conflicts are common triggers for slips. People may momentarily revert to their previous behaviors due to these factors.

Participants viewed mistakes as opportunities to grow. They regarded a slip-up as an opportunity to learn and improve because they knew they could get back on track. With this perspective, they could better deal with obstacles and press on with their goals.

According to the research, nearly 60% of participants experienced a slip in the past two years. Those who were successful in sticking to their resolutions were less likely to slip up than those who failed. Curiously, a whopping 71% of respondents claimed that slipping up strengthened their resolve to stick to their resolution.

Our perception of our failures dramatically influences the outcome of our successes and failures and our ability to reach our goals. Put another way, we will always be disappointed if we think poorly of ourselves or our actions.

The abstinence violation effect is the name given to this phenomenon by Nocross in his study. When people break the rules or standards they set for themselves, particularly when trying to change their behavior or return, they experience what is known as the Abstinence Violation Effect (AVE), a psychological phenomenon.

It was in the field of drug addiction treatment that Marlatt and Gordon initially proposed the AVE.
Gordon Alan Marlatt (November 26, 1941 – March 14, 2011) was a Canadian psychologist who earned his bachelor's degree in psychology from the University of British Columbia and a doctorate in clinical psychology from Indiana University. He taught at the University of British Columbia and Wisconsin before joining the University of Washington in 1972. In 1981, he founded the Addictive Behaviors Research Center, leading to numerous addiction prevention and treatment innovations.
What I find interesting in trying to answer this seemingly simple question: why don't New Year's resolutions work?

The answer is also simple. The answer to this question would have been straightforward and complex, but it boils down to how we see ourselves and our surroundings.

Indeed, we lose before we've even started since many of us hold a negative view of ourselves and, more generally, of the world around us. It's an answer I have yet to find in other self-help blogs or articles on the same subject.

The latter often dwell on general causes such as lack of follow-up and persistence, unrealistic or vague goals, lack of planning, etc. While these significant causes must be considered to understand why we fail to achieve our goals, the most crucial factor is our positive approach to ourselves and our resilience in the face of adversity.

I started writing and researching this blog's topic with a pragmatic perspective and a potential idea of the answer. However, I ended up with a more optimistic vision (and I hope you do, too).

It probably sounds lame, but have confidence in yourself, a positive outlook, and an approach to your dreams, ambitions, and abilities, and ultimately indulge yourself. You're not racing anyone; do your best, one day at a time.

Now, what can we do to ensure we make our resolutions stick?

Now that we have the why, it is time to know the how! Remember the quiz I asked you to do earlier; it is time for you to return your point card.Here's what we'll do: click the corresponding link if your answers match the results below. I have tailored the tips and tricks based on your answers.
Or you can read all of them to be more informed (I highly recommend it 🙂)

Mostly A's: Set SMART Goals, Track Progress, and Find Support

In the following section, I will assist you in developing a plan in the form of a checklist based on the concept of setting SMART goals, which stand for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound objectives.

If most of your responses are A's, your resolutions may fail due to a lack of meticulous planning.The idea behind SMART goals goes back to ancient Greek ideas about action and meaning.

Many people link Peter Drucker's book "The Practice of Management" to creating the SMART term. Still, he has yet to mention it directly in his writing.

Instead, detailed, measurable goals were discussed in educational and engineering journals in the middle of the 20th century. This was the start of SMART goals.
💡 A quick story of the SMART Goals :

Dr. Edwin Locke's study in the 1960s emphasized the need for clear and challenging goals to motivate people, and it also played a role in the creation of SMART goals.

The SMART name changed over time. New words like "Exciting" and "Recorded" were added to help people set goals in different situations.

Many people now agree that SMART goals are an excellent way to set clear, measurable, attainable, relevant, and due-date goals.

People and groups can use this method to set goals that are clear, measurable, attainable, and in line with their values and to have a deadline. This ultimately leads to success and achievement.
Peter Ferdinand Drucker(November 19, 1909– November 11, 2005) was an Austrian Americanmanagement consultant, educator, and author whose writings contributed to modern management theory's philosophical and practical foundations. He invented the conceptsknown as management by objectives and self-control. He has been described as "the founder of modern management."
Edwin A. Locke (born May 15, 1938) is an American psychologist and a pioneer in goal-setting theory. He is a retired Dean's Professor of Motivation and Leadership at the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland, College Park.
🎯 Remember, there is no magic plan; the only true one is the one that suits you better and is tailored for you by you. Looking for an example is a great way to start, but you should not copy any plan without making it truly yours!

The first step (as you probably know) is to start with an approach-oriented goal. Let's say you want to incorporate more physical activities into daily routines.

You would say, with an approach-oriented goal: To improve my health and well-being, I want to become more active.A wrong or avoidance-focused goal will be to say: I want to stay active so that my health doesn't worsen and my well-being doesn't decline.

Now that we have that checked, it is time to narrow down your goal. Your goal should be clear and well-defined, focusing on a specific area for improvement or achievement.

Specific (What exactly will you accomplish?) :
I will incorporate at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity, such as brisk walking, cycling, or yoga, into daily routines.

Perfect ! You should now be able to measure your goal by including criteria to follow your progress and determine when the goal has been achieved.

Measurable ( How will you know when you have reached this goal?) :
I will track daily physical activity duration and intensity using a fitness tracker or journal. I aim to achieve the target of 30 minutes of activity each day.

Okidokie, it is now time to determine whether your goal is realistic and attainable, considering the resources and time available.

Achievable (Is achieving this goal realistic with effort and commitment? Have you the resources to accomplish this goal? If not, how will you get them?) :
I will identify suitable time slots during the day for physical activity, such as early morning, lunch breaks, or evening. I will hoose activities that are enjoyable and can be easily integrated into daily schedules.

We are halfway through, and your goal should also be relevant to you and align with your overall objectives and priorities.

Relevant (Why is this goal significant to your life ?) :
I will improve my physical activity levels and enhance overall health.

Finally, your goal should have a specific timeframe for completion, providing a sense of urgency and motivation.

Time-bound (When will this goal be achieved?) :
Starting next week, I will implement the daily 30-minute physical activity routine. Iwill monitor my progress weekly and adjust my schedule or activities to ensure consistency.

This outline is an excellent start to establishing achievable goals. You can also make it more complex by adding specific action steps, such as noting potential obstacles and potential solutions to these obstacles or adding a list of people who can help you achieve your goals.

I've got a present for you! I've compiled a list of 4 free template notions using the SMART goal strategy to help you get off on the right foot.

Remember, these are just standard plans that need your touch to come to life. So personalize it to your liking, create an action plan for you and you only :)


Mostly B's: Refine Your Approach for Greater Success

If your answers tend towards mostly B's, you probably need to fine-tune your strategies by being even more specific, consistent, and motivated and by strengthening the core reasons you have to achieve resolutions and goals. 

One of the causes of inconsistency, neglect, or abandonment of our goals is not, as many people think, a lack of motivation but rather a failure to understand why we want to make a change in the first place.

I remember stumbling across a Ted X video 11 years ago that changed my outlook on life. This famous video, "How Great Leaders Inspire Action," has amassed almost 19 million views to date.

The speaker, Simon Sinek, is an ethnographer and TED Talk speaker known for his WHY concept and millennial workplace video. He shares his inspiration through books and podcasts.
Simon Oliver Sinek is an English-born American author and inspirational speaker on business leadership. His books include Start with Why and The Infinite Game.
The concept of the why and the Golden Circle has significantly impacted me, as it allowed me to redefine my beliefs, particularly regarding success.

The notion of the Golden Circle revolves around the central idea of establishing a compelling "why" as the foundation for motivating followers to take action and remain loyal.

According to Sinek, the key to standing out as a leader or an organization is to know and share your fundamental beliefs or purpose (the "why") and then to pay attention to the "how" and "what" of your actions. Leaders can increase engagement, loyalty, and success by starting with "why."
This allows them to tap into the emotional and motivational drivers that resonate with people on a deeper level. Sinek stresses that the real key to connecting with people and driving meaningful change is not just the way or what you do things but also why.

While Simon Sinek applies the Golden principle to corporations, businesses, and leaders, there is no doubt that this notion can be easily applied to individuals such as you and me.

Understanding the "why" behind actions can boost personal motivation, authenticity, emotional connection, inspiring purpose, driving innovation, and building a community of like-minded individuals united by a common cause, driving collective action towards a shared goal.

It also provides a sense of direction, meaning, and purpose, leading to increased passion and dedication to your cause or objective.

Most organizations, leaders, and individuals focus on communicating from the outside in (starting with what they do). Still, genuinely inspirational people start from the inside out, beginning with why they do what they do.

By leading with their core beliefs and values, they can connect with others and themselves on a deeper level and inspire loyalty, trust, and action.

So, using our initial approach-oriented goal: "To improve my health and well-being as a whole, I want to become more active," how can we implement it in our Golden Circle?

‍Here is an idea :

Why (Purpose):
‍"I believe that taking care of my physical and mental health is essential for living a happy and fulfilling life. I want to prioritize my well-being to ensure I can enjoy life to the fullest and be there for my loved ones."

How (Actions/Strategies):
"I will commit to a consistent exercise routine, such as going for a daily walk, attending fitness classes, or engaging in activities I enjoy, like swimming or cycling. I will also explore different forms of exercise to find what works best for me."

What (Outcomes/Activities):
I will start by scheduling regular workout sessions at the gym three times a week, setting achievable fitness goals, tracking my progress, and exploring new ways to stay active, such as hiking on weekends or practicing yoga for relaxation."

By aligning your approach-oriented goal "To improve my health and well-being as a whole, I want to become more active" with the Golden Circle framework, you've clarified your purpose (why), defined actionable strategies (how), and outlined specific activities (what) to achieve your goal of leading a healthier and more active lifestyle.

This approach will help you create a strong foundation for motivation, consistency, and long-term success in improving health and well-being.If you'd like to know more about Simon Sinek's Golden Circle approach,

In that case, I've attached the video I was talking about that changed my perspective as a teenager, and I've also included his best-selling book "Start with Why," which you'll also find in the bibliography section (Don't worry, I've found a free version you can download as a pdf... you're welcome ;-) ).

How great leaders inspire action | Simon Sinek | TED (youtube.com)

Mostly C's: Keep Up the Good Work and Help Others

What should I say? You are on the right track! My hat's off to you, and bravo!!! I encourage you to maintain your strategies and approaches and even to be a mentor for the people around you.

But as you know, we never stop learning, so please click on this link (click me), which contains other materials and tools to broaden your knowledge on the subject and everything related to productivity!

If you've come back after clicking on the link, I hope you've enjoyed it and come back with more knowledge on the subject. If you're still curious, you can always click on the link (click me). I assure you, you won't be disappointed ;)


💡 Although this post aims to inform you entertainingly, I take to heart the transparency and integrity of everyone's intellectual property.

I used scientific sources in this article and cited them in this section. For style and blog format, I take the liberty of popularizing and paraphrasing each author and scientific source without a purely academic format.

In this approach, I aim to highlight the various researchers, their theories, and notions in a fun format to instill curiosity and encourage you to do even more in-depth research on the subjects that interest you.

This article is just a starting point for learning more than you did yesterday.
Norcross, J. C., Ratzin, A. C., & Payne, D. (1989). Ringing in the new year : The change processes and reported outcomes of resolutions.Addictive Behaviors,14(2), 205‑212.https://doi.org/10.1016/0306-4603(89)90050-6
Norcross, J., & Vangarelli, D. J. (1988). The resolution solution : Longitudinal examination of New Year's change attempts. Journal of substance abuse,1 2, 127‑134.https://doi.org/10.1016/S0899-3289(88)80016-6
This is some text inside of a div bloOscarsson, M., Carlbring, P., Andersson, G., & Rozental, A. (2020). A large-scale experiment on New Year's resolutions : Approach-oriented goals are more successful than avoidance-oriented goals.PLoS ONE,15.https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0234097
Lawlor, K. (2012). Smart Goals : How the Application of Smart Goals can Contribute to Achievement of Student Learning Outcomes. Developments in Business Simulation and Experiential Learning. https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/Smart-Goals%3A-How-the-Application-of-Smart-Goals-can-Lawlor/b904b7ba2bc4a9da13eb478457a693a7f8a720e2
This is some text inside of a div block.Simon Sinek Bio and FAQs. (s.d.). Simon Sinek. Consulted April 26, 2024, at the address https://simonsinek.com/simons-bio/
Sinek, Simon.Start with Why. Penguin Books, 2011. Consulted April 26, 2024, at the addresshttp://archive.org/details/simon-sinek-start-with-why_201709
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