Why New Year’s Resolutions Don’t Work
Did you set a New Year’s resolution for 2021? When the new year rolls around, many people seek to stop a bad habit, start a new one, or improve their life through exercise and weight loss.
But studies show that eighty percent of all New Year’s resolutions will fail by the second week of February. Eighty percent!
Are people just naturally bad at achieving their goals? Not at all! But the structure of a New Year’s resolution does not set people up for success. We’ll explain why, and tell you an alternative way of setting—and achieving—a health and wellness goal.
Why People Fail at Resolutions
Everyone’s path is different, so each individual might have particular circumstances that make their resolution fail. However, there are three primary reasons why people end up giving up their New Year’s resolutions:
- The goal is too vague
- The goal is too big
- The timing is wrong
Your New Year’s Resolution is Too Vague
A resolution is a personal goal, and goals have found to be most successful when they are SMART.
The SMART acronym stands for:
- Specific: What is the specific thing that needs to happen to achieve this goal? “Get healthy” is not a specific goal, but “lose 10 pounds” is.
- Measurable: Are there steps along the way to your specific goal that you will be able to measure? You are more likely to achieve a goal if you can track your progress.
- Attainable: Is your goal too big? We talk more about this in the next section.
- Relevant: How is this goal relevant to your life and your lifestyle? If the goal has no personal meaning to you, you will have no motivation to complete it.
- Time-Bound: Give your goals a timeframe; if there is a defined end-point, you can set minor milestones along the way.
Most New Year’s resolutions are not SMART—instead, they are hastily put together at the end of December. If you want to achieve a goal, make sure to follow all five steps of the SMART acronym.
Your New Year’s Resolution is Too Big
Too many New Year’s resolutions are positioned as New Year’s revolutions—people try to do something revolutionary, so big that it’s nearly impossible to achieve. Instead of setting enormous goals and (most likely) falling short, it’s much better to set a small goal and impress yourself by surpassing it.
If you set a goal to do 200 push-ups a day, it’s likely you may never reach it. But why not set a goal to do 10 push-ups a day? You may quickly find yourself able to not only hit 10, but start getting 12, 15, or 20 push-ups when you keep up with it daily.
Motivation is one of the driving forces behind achieving goals, so give yourself an advantage: set an achievable goal in order to give yourself “a win” and keep you moving forward. If your resolution is too big, your motivation is much more likely to work in the opposite direction.
The New Year is the Wrong Time for a Resolution
What’s special about January 1? It’s the start of a new year, so people think it may also be the time to start a new habit (or break an old one), such as starting an exercise plan or cutting calorie intake.
But what else is special about January 1? It comes right after a busy December, full of holidays and parties and abnormal activities and foods. It’s right before kids have to go back to school, and for many places in the Northern hemisphere, still months away from good weather.
Is that the right environment to start a successful resolution? When you consider all those factors, it’s amazing that anyone can achieve a resolution that starts on January 1.
Don’t set yourself up for failure. January 1st is just an arbitrary date, so you might as well set an arbitrary date that is actually achievable based on your life and the time of year.
What To Do Instead of a New Year’s Resolution
Instead of trying to rush into something big on January 1, use this time to make a plan for a lasting change in your life. If you’re looking for a way to lose weight and get healthy, why not consider a fitness resort?
By traveling to get healthy, you are fully immersing yourself in a wellness environment with supportive, like-minded guests with the same goals. And most fitness resorts and weight loss camps have an educational component designed to help you learn techniques to stay healthy and keep weight off even after you are back home.
So don’t set a New Year’s resolution you can’t achieve; instead research fitness resorts, yoga retreats, and diet retreats on FitStays and make a plan to give yourself a vacation for your health this year.