The Top 6 Reasons People Break Their New Year’s Resolutions (And How You Can Avoid Them)

It’s that time of year again!  

Once the clock hit midnight on the first of the year, we went into resolution overdrive (am I right?).

All the positive energy of starting “new,” coupled with that blank-slate feeling always makes us ready for massive change every January 1st. We swear we’re going to get healthier, be more productive, and make complete 180-degree turnarounds in our life … 

… So why is it that, once February comes rolling around, so many of us find ourselves back to the same place we started?  

New Year’s Resolutions are a great catalyst for making positive changes in our lives … but the “new year” doesn’t take the “work” aspect of accomplishing a goal out of the equation. Often, we make big commitments without breaking down the steps we’ll need to take to get there (as well as making allowances for the extra time it will require).

This causes us to be left with a big resolution … with no room in our current lives to put it!

Here I want to break down how to avoid this resolution trap by showing you the top 6 reasons people break their New Year’s resolutions – and what you can do if you lose your way. 

1. Setting goals too high 

You might have this huge vision in your mind of what you’re going to accomplish in 2021 – you want to lose fifty pounds, triple the amount of weight you can lift, or maybe you want to run a whole marathon.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with aiming high and having high expectations for yourself, but when it comes to New Year’s resolutions it could actually be holding you back. 

Instead of launching into your huge goal without a real plan in place and expecting some type of result (then quitting early because you haven’t reached it soon enough), try breaking down your goal into milestones.

Want to lose 50 lbs? Aim for 3-5 lbs a month. Want to triple your lift this year? Aim to up it by 1/4 each month.

Reaching these milestone keeps you focused on progress and keeps you inspired to keep moving forward.

2. Not having any accountability systems in place 

We almost always start off our new year feeling motivated and energized to accomplish our goals, but it’s hard to keep that fire burning all year long. All that internal motivation is one thing, but motivation can fade over time (and especially when excitement dies down). 

If you don’t have anything else to hold you to your goals but yourself, it’s a lot harder to keep it going long-term, so accountability is key. In fact, it’s so important that one study by the Association for Talent Development found that having an accountability partner made people 95% more likely to achieve a goal! [*

Having some form of outside accountability – whether it’s with a friend, a trainer, a nutritionist, a coworker, whoever – might be the thing that keeps you going even when you’re flagging in motivation yourself. 

3. Lack of planning 

The best resolutions are specific. It’s usually not enough to just tell yourself “I’m going to work out more.” It’s crucial to have a specific plan in place – in this case, following a workout plan and scheduling out the best times for you to do them. Otherwise, you’re way more likely to put it to the wayside once something more tempting comes along. 

4. Bailing at the first sign of struggle

Setting and achieving goals can be hard sometimes – that’s why people fail at their New Year’s resolutions so often! But if you run at the first sign of trouble, you’re going to find yourself in the same place that you were last year (and the year before). 

The path to achieving your New Year’s resolutions and other goals isn’t always clear, so it’s a good idea to have strategies and contingency plans once those challenges come along so you can navigate them successfully. Set up a diet B if diet A isn’t working, for instance.

5. Seeing things in black and white 

One of the hardest parts about achieving goals, especially if your resolutions are fitness- or health-related, is that it’s too easy to give up on yourself if you have a misstep. 

Making healthy lifestyles is a spectrum and comes with a whole host of decisions – if you decide that your resolution is over because you “messed up” once, you’re not going to be setting yourself up for long-term success.

6. Focusing on the negatives

Sometimes achieving your resolutions can come down to how you frame them. 

Take a weight loss resolution, for example. If this is your goal, you probably have quite a few reasons for it, ranging from wanting to fit into your clothes to wanting to have more energy. If you frame your motivation for losing weight as “I hate myself” and not “I want to feel better about myself,” that negative energy probably won’t help for long, and it could even lead to self-sabotaging. 

Give yourself positive things to look forward to instead. And, be sure to focus on how far you’ve come (“I’ve lost 10 lbs so far!”) versus how far you have left to go (“Gosh, I still have 30 lbs to go.”).

Here’s how to avoid falling off track. 

  • Break your big goals down into realistic and achievable milestones. There’s nothing more discouraging than trying to work for a goal that feels like a year away. Break it down into smaller, achievable goals so that you can celebrate and see success along the way. 
  • Keep yourself accountable somehow. There’s more to reaching a goal than saying it to yourself once the clock hits midnight and then just kind of having it in the back of your mind. Enlist the help of an outside party or put your money where your mouth is to keep you motivated. 
  • Make a game plan. I’m not talking about just saying to yourself, “Okay, starting on Monday I’m going to eat more veggies and work out more.” That’s not specific enough. Take time to map out exactly how you’re going to achieve your goals to give you a roadmap to actually doing it. It’s not just going to happen on its own, so you might as well set yourself up for success instead. 

And if you’re already ready to quit? Here’s how to bounce back. 

  • Remind yourself of why you started in the first place. It’s so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day and forget why you were so motivated at the beginning of the year. 
  • Move on right now. Seriously, stop waiting until Monday. Don’t wallow because you feel like you failed – or even worse, don’t continue doing things that aren’t helping your goal just because you feel like it’s already lost to you. One day of bad eating isn’t the end of the world, but letting it go on for the weekend, or for the week, you’re just setting yourself all the way back. 

Your resolutions and goals don’t have to go to the wayside this year. Here’s to making 2021 your best year yet!  

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