Why New Year’s Resolutions Don’t Work & What To Do Instead

We are nearly into the second week of 2019 and I can hardly believe how quickly time seems to be flying by already… But regardless of that, the first few weeks of January can be so exciting, can’t they?!

To me, a new year brings a ton of hope and promise… With the next twelve months laid out in front of you as fresh as newly fallen snow, it’s difficult not to think of all of the different things that you might be able to accomplish within that time. The possibilities are endless!

As we round out Season 8 with Episode 104 of the podcast this week, we’ll be talking all about the opportunity that we all have to push the Restart button at the start of a brand-new year. It’s an opportunity to reflect on the year that just came to an end while allowing us a chance to chart a course for the months ahead.

So here, I want to dive into the idea of hitting the Restart button just a bit more and touch on something that I am sure you have heard mentioned at least a dozen time over the last week: New Year’s Resolutions.

But instead of providing you with a laundry list of potential resolutions to try out yourself… I’m going to add a spin on the topic by sharing a little secret with you…




They just don’t. And here’s why: Your typical New Year’s Resolution lacks a few key ingredients for long-term success… so much so in fact that nearly 25% of all NYRs fail within the very first week of January each and every year.

To me, that’s a HUGE percentage! That means that by January 7th every year, 1 in 4 people are already wallowing in guilt and self-doubt because the resolution that they had set in their mind already fell flat.

So instead of choosing resolutions for yourself that aren’t realistic or that aren’t clearly defined (as so many resolutions tend to be), I want to encourage you to turn the NYR craze on its head so that you can set yourself up for success this year.


Scrap Resolutions: Do This Instead


Set Specific Goals—

Part of the biggest problem that so many of us run into when it comes to New Year’s Resolutions is that we choose resolutions that are way too broad.

For example, one resolution that comes around a lot this time of year (right after the holiday season) is this: “I will exercise” or “I will lose weight this year.”

Instead of focusing on broad statements like those, I want to encourage you to set more specific goals. If your goal this year is to lose weight or to adopt a healthier lifestyle, then perhaps one of your goals could be to lose X number of pounds, or to work out X times per week.

Having a specific goal in mind not only lends a bit more focus, but it also gives you an achievable, realistic benchmark to strive for and a point to celebrate once that goal has been met.


Opt for a 90-Day Sprint, NOT a Marathon—

Let’s face it… Time may move quickly, but a year is still a pretty long period of time when you consider it at the start of January, right?

When it comes to setting goals, I like to focus on what I call the 90-day sprint. Instead of opting for a marathon of a year to accomplish one particular goal… Try setting small, specific goals that you can easily achieve within 90 days.

Doing so will not only give you a bit more focus and motivation, because you will have a set date in mind for when you want to achieve your specific goal, but it will also push you to make the changes in your day to day that are necessary for your success.


Create an Action Plan—

Without a clear action plan in place, goals are simply dreams stuck in limbo.

When it comes to setting goals, it’s imperative that we chart a clear course of action for ourselves so that we don’t get stuck on how to go about accomplishing what we have in mind right out of the gate.

Need some help in this area? Refer back to Episode 003 for a crash course!


Find an Accountability Partner—

Having a friend or family member cheering you on from the sidelines and giving you a boost of motivation to keep going when you find yourself wavering on your goals can be huge when it comes to long-term success.

If, for example, one of your goals this year is to lose weight or to exercise more, then recruit a friend or someone that you enjoy spending time with from your local gym to become your accountability partner. Maybe you could plan a few fun workouts together each week… or meet for a healthy lunch during your workday to discuss your progress and to lend each other the support that you need to keep moving forward.

You might be surprised by how focused and motivated you’re able to become when you have someone else to check in with along the way!


Prepare for Obstacles—

You have heard me say this a few times by now… but when it comes to those goals that we tend to set at the start of a new year, it definitely bears repeating!

Even the best laid plans are bound to run into a few snags every now and then…

So instead of allowing yourself to get hung up on a roadblock when it comes your way, I want to encourage you to prepare for them ahead of time. If your gym unexpectedly closes with little notice on a weekend when you were vying to take a class you had your eye on, for example, then perhaps you could come up with a few alternative options that you can do outside of the gym to get your workout in for that day.

Plan to go for a run, do some Pilates or a Yoga routine at home, or lift with the set of dumbbells that you have had laying around the house whenever your plans at the gym go astray.

Just remember: any bit of progress from now until that 90-day mark that you set is still progress. Celebrate your wins when you experience them… and don’t beat yourself up when life throws you a curveball every now and then!



What are some of the goals that you’re looking forward to achieving this year? I want to hear about them! Share your plans in the comments below… And tune into Episode 104 of Productivity Paradox this week where we’re talking all about the importance of reflection and giving ourselves a moment of refresh in preparation for setting strong, intentional goals that we can actually achieve!

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Tonya Dalton
Tonya Dalton