Why Your New Year’s Resolutions Don’t Work And How You Can Fix Them

Have you ever wondered where the time has gone? One day you were waiting for your birthday to arrive, the next, it’s done and you’re a year older already.

Even I noticed that time is getting faster and faster as the day goes by. One moment it was Monday and the next, it’s Friday again.

Just like the time when it was January and we were welcoming 2021, but now we’re almost at the end of the year. And we all know what that means.

“Goodbye 2021, Hello 2022”, am I right? Not only that, the end of the year has the most holidays and then we have New Year’s Resolution.

Why Your New Year's Resolutions Don't Work And How You Can Fix Them

Why Do We Make New Year’s Resolution?

The fact is, New Year’s resolution has been with us since ancient history. The ancient Babylonians started that tradition about 4, 000 years ago in hopes of pleasing their god and believing that they are off to a good start in the following year.

It continued on with the Romans as they created a new and improved calendar that closely relates to the modern calendar.

Therefore, every time the year ends, it has become a tradition that people get to pledge themselves with promises to better themselves for a better life in the next year.

However, why do people keep on making promises to better themselves when most of us fail to keep those promises?

The New Year’s Resolution Syndrome

Many people keep on making New Year’s resolutions and even though they won’t follow it, they will still make a new set of New Year’s resolution for the next year.

Although you might think that never giving up and keeping on trying to make that resolution is admiring, it is actually unhealthy.

There is a syndrome that connects with how people behave towards their New Year’s resolution that contributes to why we never achieve our New Year’s resolution.

It is called the False Hope Syndrome. The syndrome is associated with the unrealistic expectation of self-change.

You think that changing yourself is easy and by making that New Year’s resolution, you think that you can do it. However, as days pass, you slowly lose interest and give up. Then another year is coming, you go and make a new one.

It is found that only 9.2% felt that they achieve their New Year’s resolution. Not so very sure, but at least they felt it enough to say that they achieved it right?

I am ashamed to admit that I am not one of the 9.2%. So what are the reasons why the 90.8% didn’t get to complete their resolution? Here are the probable causes.

They Lack Motivation

Motivation and passion is key. Making a New Year’s resolution just because someone else wanted you to make it is one sure-fire way to quickly lose interest in something. After all, why would you want to do something when you don’t even want it?

If you want it, you have to have passion, determination and are motivated to follow through your resolutions.

Besides, those people won’t benefit when you achieve their resolution. It’s your resolution so you take charge of it.

They Are Not Specific

Another reason that people fail with their New Year’s resolutions is that they start off big right off the bat. Resolutions such as “I will finally be in shape”, “I’ll never eat sweets ever again” and “I will be healthy” are vague.

How do you aim to be in shape? Are you aiming to lose fat or put on muscle? How do you aim to be healthy?

Fewer carbs? Less sodas? What? Be specific. Additionally, using the word “never” is a powerful word. You can never “never eat sweets ever again”. It’s close to impossible especially if you adore sweets. Be realistic.

They Have No Plan

Once you established a specific and realistic resolution, don’t just stop there.

Continue on making a plan on how you do it. You want to lose 10 pounds? How will you do it? Will you use a treadmill? Change your diet? Will you do it daily? Weekly? Monthly?

Even having a specific goal, having no idea where to go or where to start and planning right there and then can be overwhelming.

These kinds of resolutions present you a journey where you stand in the starting line but no road and not even road signs.

They Have No Budget

The most common New Year’s resolution made is to lose weight. Therefore, it’s not the first time that people give it up because of the expensive gym memberships or their costly diet plans.

Do you think your resolution is making your wallet cry and making a dent in your bank account?

Most use the excuse that their resolution is expensive that makes them bail out. However, money can also play a part in motivating you to continue your resolution(will be discussed later). 

How to Make Resolutions Work

Besides making a resolution that you’ll actually stick with, here are some tips for getting the most out of your New Year’s resolution.

Have A Plan/Be Specific

One of my faults that resulted in failed New Year’s resolution is this. I was not specific and I didn’t have a plan. All I said was, “I’ll lose weight”. But I don’t know how to start it and I don’t even know how much weight I want to lose. So I gave up.

Do’s and Don’t’s in planning your New Year’s resolution:

Don’t: I’ll lose weight this year

Do: Lose a total of 22 lbs this year. Eat one plate a meal(no more refills). Jog 1 mile a week.

Don’t: I’ll never drink sodas and eat sweets again

Do: Month 1. Drink 1 liter of water daily. Limit sweet intake to once a week.

Month 2. Drink 2 liters of water daily. Limit sweet intake to once every two weeks.

See the difference? Specific. Detailed. Actionable and easy to follow. The key here is to not take it all in an instant. You can also take it step by step and slowly “upgrade”.

Be Reminded Of Your Resolution Everywhere

In order to keep it going, make some obvious reminders that will make you want to do it just so those reminders and your conscience will leave you alone.

Mark your calendar, preferably get a big one and mount it on your wall near your bed so you see it each time you wake.

Put some alarms on your phone, your tablet, your laptop anywhere. Better yet, turn those reminders into your wallpaper, lock screen or keypad background (whoops, too much?).

This way you won’t get away with the pathetic excuse of “Oh shoot, I forgot to do my resolution. Oh well.”

Make It Fun (Gamification)

Doing your resolution shouldn’t be all bad. It’s your resolution so make it fun if you want to. Besides, a fun resolution makes you want to do it more. This increases your chances of achieving it. Gamify your progress.

Now that you have a calendar of your goals, mark some dates that if you successfully fulfilled the first week, you get a reward. Treat yourself. Having a resolution doesn’t mean that you deprive and condemn yourself in a prison of your own making.

If you successfully refrained eating sweets for the week, you treat yourself to a slice of cake (a slice and no more!).

Adjust your reward system step by step as well. If you failed, punish yourself accordingly.

If you like gaming and you failed for a week, forbid yourself from playing games for a week. Increase duration of punishment days with every failure.

The point of gamification and the reward-punishment system here is to discipline yourself in a fun way. Without discipline, you might as well forget doing your resolution.

Spend Money On It

I admit that I am very stingy and miserly with regards to money, at least for myself. I have no problem with using it to help my family. However, I hardly buy things for myself unless my sister tells me that I really need it.

So for the stingy and miser like me, spending money in your resolution is like investing on the idea.

Maybe spending for that membership is probably a good idea after all. This will result in making you want to rethink on giving up since you invested money in your resolution.

Might as well continue it since you paid for it right?

Get Support And Be Positive

Other than showing yourself that you can do it, you get to show off to your friends and family that you can do your New Year’s resolution.

Furthermore, the more, the merrier right? Aside from gamifying your resolution, you can always be with people who are doing the same resolution as you are.

Like me and my sister. We have the same resolution so why not do it together.

I have a buddy with my journey in achieving my resolution and we can root for each other as well as monitor each other’s progress.

Being supported by your family members and friends is a boost in motivation and self-esteem.

And last, but not the least, be positive. Sometimes it’s all in the mind, why do you think the placebo effect exists?

Equipping yourself with a positive mental attitude towards fulfilling your New Year’s resolution will change your perspective and who knows, by the end of the year, you are finally one of the 9.2%.

The Takeaway

New Year’s resolutions aren’t just made for you to give up on them. That’s not how they work in the first place. Resolutions are there to give us a new purpose in life and remind that we are going to improve our way of living and become a better person.

Furthermore, if you want a role model when achieving your New Year’s resolution, then Mark Zuckerberg is your guy. If you study all his past New Year’s resolution, not only were they beneficial to him and those around him, they are also challenging and ambitious.

However, you can see that he planned each and every resolution. He was specific. His resolutions may sound big to start with but he divided it into smaller pieces just like he did with the book challenge.

They were realistic and were time-bound. Plus he records his progress through Facebook posts.

And admit it, some of his endeavors don’t even require heavy expenses such as the hand-written thank you notes and meet one person a day. If Mark Zuckerberg can do it, why can’t you?

So what will your New Year’s resolution be?

Last Updated on

By Kristine Ramos

Kristine Ramos loves reading and has a passion for writing. She is a contributor for myfriendfernando and blogger by day, a gamer by night. Her business-minded parents influenced her while growing up and she learned how to manage simple business dealings when she was young. If she is not reading, writing or managing her Aunt’s store, she draws or plays video games.


    1. Making those small details and changes in how to tackle our New Year’s resolution really makes us see it in a possible and achievable way. I hope that you will be able to conquer your New Year’s resolution for 2018, Lisa. Good luck! 😀

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

For security, use of Google's reCAPTCHA service is required which is subject to the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.