Every year, as the clock strikes midnight, millions of us declare, “This is my year!”
We caption our social medias with “New Year, New Me.”
We’re filled with hope and armed with a list of New Year’s resolutions.
Yet, weeks or months down the line, that list is often a distant memory.
Why does this cycle repeat year after year?
Hate to break it to you, but…
New Year’s resolutions often fail because we set unrealistic expectations.
Because we fall into the overly ambitious trap and unequipped with the right set of tools.
We aim for the stars without building the rocket. It’s not just about setting high goals but understanding what it takes to achieve them.
January rolls in, and suddenly, everyone wants to “get healthy.”
Why? Because there’s a hidden symbolic force at play, driving a multi-billion dollar surge that fades as quickly as it appears.
Gyms, flooded with new resolutioners.
It’s a gold rush for the fitness industry, but what happens when the hype settles? They still make tons of money off of the unused memberships.
Then there are the goal-setting courses, “internet gurus” selling productivity porn products and daily planner Etsy pop-ups, riding the wave of our collective craving for a fresh start.
Their products fly off the shelves, claiming for $49.97 they will solve your problems, but what is the true pain point of the January illusion they are really selling?
And let’s talk about the health and wellness market. From supplements to superfoods, sales skyrocket. Suddenly everyone is YouTubing the latest content put out by “health” influencers.
This annual cycle of sky-high ambitions followed by a steep drop in commitment is more than just a cultural phenomenon; it’s a curious blend of hope, hype, and, perhaps, a touch of delusion.
Did you know that a staggering 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail by the second week of February?
So, here’s why most people fail:
Many approach resolutions as a January fad rather than a year-long commitment, sprinting through the first mile of a marathon only to find themselves out of steam alarmingly soon.
And then, they hit “the wall” of:
a) giving up a few weeks in because, #woops I’ll try again next year or b) denying that they made any resolutions in the first place
I’ve been part of the second group living in denial many times. Why? Because I was too chicken sh*t to set real goals, ironically because I’ve been the first group that failed way more times than I’d like to admit.
There’s a seductive safety net that too many of us cling to: the belief that we can’t fail if we don’t play. It’s a mindset cloaked in self-preservation, to shield us against the fear of failure. But let’s call it what it really is – a silent thief of potential.
This mentality is a fortress we build when the fear of failure is larger than the desire for success.
‘Why try if you might fail?’
But here’s the ugly truth – in not trying, we fail by default. We forfeit the game before even stepping onto the field.
This mindset robs us of learning, growth, and the sheer thrill of chasing what we truly want.
Every time we back away from a challenge, every time we choose not to act, we’re subtly reinforcing the belief that we’re not capable and not worthy of success. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy that cages our potential in a loop of inaction.
It’s hard to admit (but it’s true):
We Lack Accountability
We often overlook the power of shared goals.
When we whisper resolutions to ourselves without accountability, they’re easy to dismiss.
Sharing your goals with someone who holds you accountable and significantly increases your chances of success. It could be a workout buddy, a mentor, or a supportive online community (just like here).
we Forget the ‘Why’
We often lose sight of why we set these resolutions. Is it to feel more energetic, to model healthy habits for our kids, or to finally run that charity marathon?
The ‘why’ is your fuel.
It’s what gets you out of bed for that early morning run when the bed feels too cozy.
More importantly, are we settling these goals intentionally? Are these our actual goals or is it piggy-backing in the shadow of someone else’s? (like internet trends and what our friends & families proclaim through social media).
we are unaware of the Habit Loop
Creating new habits is an art backed by #science.
Charles Duhigg, in his book “The Power of Habit,” emphasizes the habit loop.
Understanding and manipulating this loop is key to replacing old habits with new, healthier ones.
At the core of every habit lies a simple loop: cue, routine, reward. The cue triggers a behavior (routine), leading to a reward. Recognizing and manipulating this loop is crucial in transforming resolutions into lasting habits.
Start by identifying the cues for your undesirable habits.
What triggers your routine? Is it stress, boredom, or in avoidance of something else?
Then, consciously replace the negative routine with a positive one that delivers a similar reward.
we Ignore Small Wins
Did you opt for a salad over fries, or finish a book chapter instead of watching TV? Celebrate it!
Psychologists find that recognizing small victories boosts motivation and reinforces the behavior we wish to continue.
If you think “that’s stupid” or “Go big or go home!”
Many of us struggle to acknowledge our smaller victories due to a variety of limiting beliefs:
- Perfectionism: People often believe only major achievements are worth celebrating, missing out on the importance of incremental progress.
- Cultural Success Norms: Some cultures focus heavily on significant accomplishments, undervaluing the importance of smaller, but still meaningful, steps forward.
- Fear of Complacency: There’s a worry that recognizing small successes might lead to a lack of motivation for bigger goals.
- Social Comparison: In the era of social media, it’s easy to feel that our small wins are insignificant compared to others’ achievements.
- Self-Underestimation: Many tend to downplay their efforts and achievements, considering them as expected duties rather than accomplishments.
- Self-Recognition Struggle: Struggling with self-worth can lead some to feel undeserving of celebration, regardless of the achievement’s size.
- High Expectations: The fast-paced, achievement-driven nature of today’s world often creates an unrealistic expectation to achieve big and quickly, overshadowing the smaller yet crucial steps towards success
With that said, these beliefs may lead to…
The All-or-Nothing Attitude
Life isn’t black and white.
The all-or-nothing mindset – where one slip-up leads to abandoning the entire goal – is a surefire path to failure.
Progress, not perfection, is the goal.
So, how do we build the rocket?
We gotta Create Clear, Achievable Goals
Consider the resolution to “get healthy.” It’s as vague as saying, “I want to be happy.” But what does that look like?
Is it losing 10 pounds, running a 5k, or cutting out sugar?
This emphasizes clarity aka a clear target.
Here’s a method of goal-setting designed to provide clarity, focus, and motivation:
SMART goals, standing for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound, are a strategic way to set clear, focused, and attainable objectives.
They involve specifying your goal in detail (like setting a target to lose 10 pounds instead of just ‘being healthier’), ensuring it’s measurable (tracking pounds lost), achievable (realistic and within your means), relevant (aligns with your values and broader objectives), and time-bound (having a specific deadline).
This approach turns vague aspirations into concrete, trackable plans.
Then it really comes down to shifting your mindset to see…
Change as a Process
Change isn’t an overnight event but a journey filled with steps and missteps. Resolutions are about setting a direction for continuous improvement, not instant transactions but rather a transformation.
You can “go hard, go fast” for a few weeks. But without direction, you’ll end up nowhere.
So it’s time to…
Let’s focus on:
- Setting achievable, specific goals.
- Building accountability systems.
- Uncovering and reminding ourselves of our deeper motivations.
- Embracing small victories along the way.
- Understanding and working with our habit loops.
- Avoiding the pitfalls of the all-or-nothing mentality.
So, ask yourself, “Who do I need to become to achieve these goals?”
Ultimately, it’s not just the goals we set; it’s about who we become in the pursuit of these goals. The journey to achieving our resolutions is a transformative process, reshaping our habits, mindsets, and ultimately, our identities.
This shift in perspective takes us beyond mere goal-setting into the realm of personal evolution.
Don’t let the hype trap you. Remember, these billion dollar industries thrive on our January enthusiasm – they bank on us buying that planner, those supplements, all the shiny new tools promising transformation. But here’s the hard truth: these things won’t do the heavy lifting for us.
They count on our initial rush to purchase, often knowing well that our execution and commitment might not match our eagerness to spend.
It’s time to shift the focus from what we buy to fuel our resolutions to how we plan to achieve them.
Let’s not just be consumers of inspiration but rather action takers.
Break free from the cycle of enthusiastic spending and start investing in real, consistent action. That’s where true transformation lies.
So, before you invest in another tool or program, pause and ask yourself:
Am I clear on my goals?
Am I ready to commit to the journey, not just the start?
Am I willing to become the person that is not just a goal-setter, but a goal-achiever?