Why your new year resolutions are most likely to fail. So can we make it work?

It  is the beginning of a new year again, many of us would have created some resolutions, or at least one or two. Some of us are full of drive and passion upon jotting down the resolutions. Some  of us are just going through the motion - doubtful that it will be fulfilled, hopeful because  hope is what we hang on to when our goals are not visible.

However, many of us will eventually fail to fulfill the resolutions. The drive starts to fizzle out within 1 to 2 months. But why?

We need to change the way we work towards our resolutions.

There will be many of us who will make goals related to our finance, our educational development, our health, our career and our relationships.

I recall the time when I was 18. I had tonnes of items to be fulfilled in my new year's resolution. I remember that I fulfilled most if not all of the items on my checklist. The same pattern continued for a couple of years until I completed University education. Upon stepping into the working world, I was not able to fulfil a large part of my new year's resolutions. In some years, I gave up making new year's resolutions altogether - it just does not work and 'new year resolutions' were simply a buzzword, a fad, a fashion statement, something that is only talked about in December and January. And so I stopped making new year resolutions completely.  Why?

I realised that although I was in the professional working world but my modus operandi and my understanding of new year resolutions was stuck from the time I was 18. New year resolutions were simply a bucket list to be checked with no serious game plan. I did not evolve much when it comes to making new year resolutions based on the simple fact that I was simply approaching new year's goals in the same way I did when i was 18.

My new year resolutions were simple way back then. It looked  like this...

1) Finish running 2 miles in 12 minutes.
2) Get at least a B grade for all my subjects in school.
3) Do 15 quality pull ups in 2 minutes.
4) Spring clean room every 3 months.
5) Read at least 5 novels for the year.
6) Save $800 by the end of the year.

It was more of a checklist rather than a resolution.


These items were easily achievable. 4 of them were physical goals and given that I was a teenager, they were easy to accomplish. However, like many people, when I stepped into the adult world, the working world, my resolutions became harder and harder to fulfil. Like what I've mentioned earlier, I was trying to fulfill my resolutions using the same mode of thinking that I had as a teenager. For my case, it was just moving with gusto towards them.


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In the professional working life, most of us have multiple responsibilities; like looking after the children, making sure the bills and rent are paid on time, dealing with challenging colleagues, and many others. Most of us are facing various challenges in life which requires our constant attention and energy. Yet there are many of us have too many resolutions, and do not have a proper game plan and to make matters worse, there are many of us who give up making resolutions because we have failed to achieve our new year resolutions in the previous years.

Change the whole concept of New Year's resolutions

I have a suggestion to make. Why don't we make resolutions at any part of the year? You do not need to wait till the beginning of a new year to start eating healthily, to start going to the gym, to start saving up, to start reading more books, to take up courses on self development, to spend more time with our loved ones.


We can start our own time period for a resolution or a goal to be achieved, we do not really need to fulfill our resolutions by December. We can start a February to May resolution, or a May to August resolution. If the resolution really means a lot to you and is important for your well being, start it now, do something about it. For example, if your goal is to eat healthily, go ditch that can of soda and fast food for dinner. Start doing something that is part of your overall resolution even if it is something very small.


Actions create momentum. If you need to kick a bad habit or start a good one, there is no perfect time. Take the first  step.

I believe that resolutions do work but stick to one or two resolutions at a time. At most three.

Have lesser resolutions. Focus on 1 to 3 key ones. Stick to them. Only when you have achieved them then you make new ones. Commit to them.


Yeah some might argue that having lesser resolutions means being less ambitious. But how many times have people fulfilled a long list of 'Big' resolutions. Focus on 1 to 3 very important ones that will really impact your life for the better.

Be passionate about your resolution. Fall in love with it. Follow it through thick and thin.

Break it down into smaller goals. Celebrate each little step that you take towards your resolution.

And persist when you do fall short. Luck may not always come to you. So you have to keep on finding it. 


Many times, people give up easily when they don't achieve the desired result. There is a learning curve towards every goal. Many people have achieved their goals  through persistence and learning  from their failures. The power of persistence has been under rated. Some of the best salesmen continue with finding their prospects even when they have had zero customers for the day. They know that they will eventually meet their next customer when they keep on trying.   


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If your aim is to be fit and healthy, its not just about aiming to visit the gym twice a week or running at the park during the weekends. It trickles down to your daily habits as well. Avoid that high cholesterol food on a daily basis. Take walks frequently. Start small. Walk or jog a short distance and subsequently increase the speed and distance.


Start having  healthier options for your food everyday.

Skip that packet of junk food and choose a fruit instead. Achieving a big resolution does not happen overnight with little effort. If it is a sedentary lifestyle and a bad daily diet that is causing you health issues, you can't just exercise or simply change your diet...


You have to change your lifestyle and the mindset that comes with the lifestyle.


You can't achieve that healthy body if you feel that fast food and junk food are cool. You have to change your mindset.


Start small. 


If you are planning to read more books to be more knowledgeable or to develop a new hobby, you don't need to pick up a 1000 page novel to start with. Start small with something manageable like informative magazines. Develop a rhythm. Eventually the rhythm and your reading tenacity will build up.


Do it now. 


If you are intending to build a stronger bond with your loved ones. Don't wait till next week. Give them a call if you are working far away from them. Send them a message on social media or an email. It will be awkward at the start but things will smooth out in the end if you keep doing it.


Be gradual.


If you would like to learn to cook, learn the simpler dishes first and gradually proceed to more complex ones. But you have to keep doing and keep learning. Make it a habit.

Take a small step each day towards your goal and increase the effort educate yourself on how to achieve your goal on a frequent basis. Its not enough just to aim or put in effort. You must build your knowledge on how to achieve the goal.

Set a time frame.


"I am going to achieve this goal by the month of ..." If you fail to achieve your resolution within the time frame, ask yourself why and restrategize. There is no shame in admitting your failure. You just need to ask yourself where you have gone wrong and restrategize.

Make a serious game plan.


Change your lifestyle. Make it a point to change the way you think as well. You cannot achieve a goal or resolution that you have been struggling to attain with the same lifestyle and mode of thinking. As Albert Einstein wisely said :


We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.

Jack Ma, the founder of Alibaba once said :


Instead of learning from other people’s success, learn from their mistakes. Most of the people who fail share common reasons(to fail) whereas success can be attributed to various different kinds of reasons."An achievement by an acquaintance".


Learn from the success and failures of others and read up. Knowledge is power only when you utilize it to your benefit! There may be others who have successfully achieved your resolutions - learn from their success stories! 


It is possible to achieve your resolutions by following these advices!


Written by Abraham A.L on 7 Jan 2016

You may also want to read these :


The best investment you could ever make!

The rough road of the champion.

Being the best version of yourself.

She would not choose poverty.

Take control of your life - Part 1

A winner's game - What I learnt from the Olympics...

​Approaching crossroads - confessions of a professional approaching mid life crisis.

How does failure really help us?


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