We all like the idea of a fresh start, a clean slate, the opportunity to start over. New year is unique in that it provides us all with a collective opportunity to do this at the same time. Come January, the gyms are full, diets have started, and everyone’s talking about becoming their best selves. Come February, most of these resolutions have been broken. We’ve all been there! If you find yourself there right now, read on to understand why this happens and what you can do to get back on track and succeed! 

Why we Fail at Resolutions

There are a number of reasons why we fail to stick with our resolutions. Here are the three:

Resolutions are Too Vague

Goal-setting isn’t a skill we tend to get taught. Therefore, many of us aren’t actually very good at it. We may have a sense of what we want but struggle to put it into words or make it specific. As a therapist, I am often presented with goals like being happy, feeling normal, and getting rid of anxiety. Without getting too deep and philosophical, what do any of those things really mean? Whether you want to get fit or be happy, it’s important to be clear on what that really means to you. 

Resolutions Lack a Good Action Plan

So you’ve decided that you’re going to get fit. And there’s perhaps some vague intention to go to the gym to achieve this goal. But how, when, how long for, to do what? And once you start, how will you measure fitness? Is that through weight, muscle tone, dress size, stamina? Getting fit by going to the gym isn’t a plan, it’s a vague idea.

On the flip side, you may make a detailed plan of an exercise routine to follow for 90-minutes every day for 30 days. But this plan doesn’t account for rest days, curve balls thrown your way, aching muscles or injuries. This is not a plan, it’s an ideal that is likely unachievable. 

Resolutions aren’t What You Really Want 

When you set your resolutions, what are they based on? I’ve used the example of ‘getting fit’ because it’s one I hear time and time again. After a period of indulgence over the festive season, most us have some inclination to rebalance this in the new year. But is that because it really matters to us and we truly care about this, or is it because it’s what we think we should do?

Change takes effort and discipline. Even when we are pursuing something we really want, our motivation can waver at times. So, if we’re working towards something under the guise of importance that isn’t truly meaningful to us, we’re not likely to persevere and succeed. 

How to Succeed with Your Resolutions

To set good resolutions or goals and make meaningful progress towards them, we need to break the patterns we’ve just walked through. Here’s how to do this in three steps:

  1. Get Specific

Pick a goal, define it and make it specific. For example, I’m going to improve my fitness by running so that I can do a 5k charity run in spring. 

  1. Make a clear plan

Making a plan gives us clear steps to follow, a simple way to measure whether we actioned those steps or not, and this can help keep us accountable. For example, I’m going to go for a run after work on Monday and Thursday for half an hour this week. Next week, I will add in another 30-minute run on Saturday morning. The following week, I will join a weekend park run with my friend. After this, I will update my plan again to help me work towards the charity 5k. 

  1. Focus on what you want

Your resolutions and goals should be based on really matters to you. You can use this to motivate you. For example, I don’t really care about getting fit or losing weight but I’d really like to be able to run 5k to raise money for a charity that I care about and getting fit will help me achieve that. 


Take a Helping Hand

If you’re ready to review your resolutions, get real about what you truly want to focus on and set yourself a solid vision and plan, we have a super handy resource you can use as a framework. Try our workbook, Go Get Your Goals, and do what it says on the tin!