5 Reasons New Year’s Resolutions Remain Wishes

by Taru Fisher on December 29, 2015

It’s that time of year when we start thinking about what we want to change in the new year, and we typically make New Year’s Resolutions. Somehow, mysteriously, many of our resolutions falter and fail to materialize. If you’ve ever wondered why, many of us blame it on our lack of  “willpower” and beat ourselves up mentally for a while — ouch!

Well, it’s actually often because of how we initially create the resolution; it lacks the proper ingredients. So my friends out there in resolution hell, here are five reasons (with solutions) your New Year’s Resolutions fall short.


Reason #1: We tend to make resolutions with ill-defined, large global outcomes. Some of them I hear are “I’m going to lose weight next year”, or “I’m going to make a lot more money in 2016”, or “I’m going to get along better with my boss”…you get the idea. What they all have in common is a lack of specificity and poor language.

Instead say “I’m going to shed 30 pounds by August 1st.” This is a specific, realistic goal within a set time frame. Also notice I didn’t use “lose weight”. Why? Because the mind doesn’t like us to “lose” anything. Think about it. If you lose something you’re always looking to get it back. Losing something is negative. Effective resolutions are stated positively, i.e., what you want instead of what you don’t want.


Reason #2: When we fall short on keeping our resolution (and most of us do mess up one time or another), we feel guilty and take it as a sign we will fail again and again–so we revert back to old, undesired behavior and essentially give up.

Please realize that you are human, imperfectly perfect, and mistakes are merely a part of growing and changing. Forgive yourself, look at what threw you off track, and begin again with a greater understanding of what you need to do.

It is OK to make mistakes! And OK to get back on track.


Reason #3 – We fail to plan exactly what we need to do to accomplish our resolution. By this I mean what resources do you need to be able to reach your goal?

If you want to shed those pounds, figure out exactly what it will take. Perhaps you need a personal trainer, or to re-organize your kitchen so those tempting but terrible goodies are gone. Maybe you need a different attitude, or state of mind. There are many good online programs and apps for your mobile device. Connecting with a life coach or community that has the same goal as you can provide much needed support and accountability.

These resources will be specific to you, and need to be defined and acquired before you begin.


Reason #4: Having planned, we fail to act! Something keeps us from taking action.

The outcome isn’t compelling enough. We haven’t really examined what accomplishing the resolution will get for us.

Ask yourself these series of questions:

  1. What will having your outcome get for you?
  2. Take your answer to #1 and ask yourself what will having that (answer) allow you
    1. to do?
    2. to have?
    3. to be?


I’ll illustrate using the shed pounds example resolution.

Ask yourself “What will shedding 30 pounds get for me?”

Say your answer to the that first question is “I’ll look better.”

Now ask yourself, using the words from your first answer, i.e. “looking better”… “What will looking better allow me to do, or to have, or to be?”

Say your answer to that is “I’ll feel good about myself” . Now ask yourself “What will feeling good about myself get for me?”

Perhaps your answer to this is “I’ll be able to get a better paying job”.

Ask yourself “What will having a better paying job allow me to do, or to have or to be?”

An answer could be “I’ll be able to take better care of my family.”

Continue asking and answering until you’ve reached a final answer that resonates deeply with you. It’s usually on a much higher level than the one with which you started.


Reason #5: The outcome doesn’t seem real; you can’t picture yourself actually having it.

Create the experience of being successful in achieving your New Year’s Resolution.

  • Create a mental timeline from yourself to somewhere in the room and identify a spot where your future lies.
  • Actually walk on that imaginary timeline to the future where your desired outcome has been realized.
  • Imagine you’re looking back at yourself today, and tell yourself what you see, hear, feel and how your life is different now that you’ve accomplished your resolution.
  • Experience it fully, “as if” it has already happened.
  • Tell yourself the steps you took to achieve the outcome now that you have it. Now write up these specific steps to lock them in.

What’s been your experience with keeping your New Year’s Resolutions? If you have any other tips, feel free to share them.

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