Four Reasons People Don’t Keep New Year’s Resolutions

We’ve already slipped into the second quarter of 2018 and, as usual, Spring is trying to fight its way into Metro Denver.  It will win eventually, but the occasional April snowstorm reminds some of us that just over three months ago we vowed to take a few positive steps – if not make outright changes – in our lives in the form of New Year’s resolutions.

How’s that going for you by the way? [I’m ducking for cover!]

I get it, you were feeling good at the time in the afterglow of the holidays. It was easy to make resolutions when you knew that life-changes requiring any kind of self-discipline were at least a week off. You felt good making this commitment. You had done everything you could FOR NOW to improve your life. So let’s enjoy the bad habits for a few more days. [Ducking again]

New Year’s resolutions are created with the best of intentions. They’re a good thing. We need change and forward movement in our lives to stay vibrant. Yet, as we all know, during the follow-through in the harsh weeks early in the new year, 90% of us muck it all up.

What’s going on? Is it only a matter of willpower?

1)We paint a negative image and look at resolutions as a slog. “I’m going to start getting up at 5 a.m. to run three miles before breakfast.” Then the alarm goes off. It’s January, for crying out loud. It’s cold outside and your bed is warm. You’ve been sleeping till 8:30 for the last week and a half. Getting up at 5:00 to run seems like a punishment. Bam! Negative thinking took over. In fact, you never had a chance.



Try replacing that negative image with a positive one. “I’m going to get up early, get a little exercise, and enjoy the sunrise. I’m going to be one of ‘those’ people on the street in sweats that everyone secretly admires.” Life has enough crappy tasks that we all HAVE to do, so don’t add to the list – recast it as a positive instead.

2) We go it alone. Unless you’re Henry David Thoreau and on a transcendental journey, everything is easier with a buddy. But most of us approach resolutions with the mindset that we’re on our own. The problem is that if there’s nobody to answer to, it’s so much easier to let things slide.



Workmates, siblings, best friends, partners, spouses, and even online support groups can provide moral support and accountability. And hey, I think I read that Thoreau’s mother checked in on him weekly and did his laundry.


3) We don’t manage our time to accommodate the resolution.  I truly believe time management is more difficult than money management. Do you really think that adding a few extra tasks to your schedule is going to be easy? Aside from your regular eight-to-six stuff, you’re going to the kids’ soccer games, walking dogs and cooking meals (and those are the FUN ones!).  


That’s no reason to forego resolutions. Just find a realistic place in your schedule (replacing some of your habitual unproductive or negative activities maybe?) to do your new things. And whatever you do, don’t let NEW good activities replace OLD good activities.


4) We think in terms of massive goals instead of steps and process. Too often we stake out resolutions so big they overwhelm us. If you want to run a marathon but have never completed a mile, you’re going to feel overwhelmed at first and discouraged the rest of the time as progress comes very slow. Does that mean you shouldn’t aspire to run a marathon? Of course not. Just set some reasonable interim goals that get you moving in the right direction (literally!) like running a mile without stopping.


Take a step-by-step approach toward major resolutions. Don’t just resolve to “get in shape” or “save more money.” Live in the moment by defining  incremental steps and creating interim goals.

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