Are you sticking to your resolution?

Most New Year’s resolutions fail by February, and here is why

Ebenezer Idowu, Jr. , Staff Writer

Why don’t New Year’s resolutions work? Every year, people make them, hoping that this will be the miracle year when everything works out, when they will finally be more fit or financially savvy, get good grades etc. But everyone knows the sad and bitter truth: New Year’s resolutions do not work.  

Most people set themselves up for failure, and the results of such failure are evident. An article called “Why New Year’s Resolutions fail (and how to save yours),” published Jan. 7, 2022, asserts that most New Year’s resolutions only last a month. Roughly four out of every five are abandoned by February. The truth is that New Year’s resolutions do not serve their purpose of self-betterment. Let’s find out why and how to go meet those seemingly impossible goals. 

Why New Year’s Resolutions Don’t Work 

The article in notes that most New Year’s resolutions are vague, excessively ambitious and inflexible. If one does not meet the intended goal exactly, they think they’ve failed. Thus, the people who create them set themselves up for failure from the start, for any small slip amounts to a complete failure. 

Moreover, people very often lump several things together and expect to somehow improve on all areas at once without a reasonable plan on how they will accomplish this. They might not truly know how to go about their goals, except to set an impossibly high standard and somehow expect themselves to measure up.  

They lack the willpower to accomplish multiple things at the same time and falter because the strength they should use to improve is depleted. 

The Alternative 

One key step in meeting New Year’s resolutions is to set specific and attainable goals. This may seem like common knowledge, but specific goals provide a step-by-step “game plan” on how one will attain the goal and give a benchmark to determine if you are on track. 

For example, say you realize that, like most Americans, you are consuming an excessive quantity of refined sugar and junk food. An example of a faulty resolution would be “to eat healthy.” What exactly do you mean by “eating healthy?” How will you start eating healthy (what is your game plan)? How will you know that you are on track? Such a goal does not clearly state what the aim is and is doomed to fail. 

In order to succeed, one must set a more specific goal, such as “eat a more balanced and nutritious diet to increase my intake of fruits and vegetables by making them at least 30-40% of every meal and cut my consumption of junk food to snacks and desserts.” By clearly stating what the objective is (eating a more balanced diet) and setting forth a specific plan to meet it, the individual has set forth a plan for success. 

Another part of  meeting your New Year’s resolutions is to establish good habits. There is an old saying that “old habits never die,” and as Louise Smith points out in her GAIAM article, “10 tips to help you keep your New Year’s Resolution,” self-improvement “won’t happen overnight.”

 New Year’s resolutions often stand in opposition to existing habits. The latter usually wins, overpowering any resolve to do otherwise and dragging one in the mire of defeat. 

By working on creating good habits to counter the bad, one can break this pattern. Let’s revisit the diet example above. In this case, the bad habit is gorging on sweets. 

A good habit to counter this could be supplementing junk food with fruits and vegetables when snacking or creating a point system to track one’s consumption of refined sugar.  


After years of unsuccessful attempts, the average American likely knows that their current New Year’s Resolutions practice is not working. Therefore, instead of mindlessly doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different result, why not try the methods outlined above? 

Revisit the resolutions you set on Jan. 1, (if you made any). Rewrite them to be more specific and attainable. If you need guidance, use the SMART goal-making strategy. Set a detailed plan on how you will meet those goals and measure your progress throughout the year. 

Finally, reward yourself for following your plan. Treat yourself to a piece of cake for dessert after not touching sweets for the entire day. Spend a few hours watching your favorite show as compensation for hitting the treadmill for three consecutive days. And watch goal attainment get closer with each passing day. 

You will thank yourself in 12 months, assuming you held out that long. And the success you experience in one area will set a precedent for more accomplishments in life.