Top 10 reasons why new year’s resolutions fail (and how to succeed)

Chances are you have failed with your New Year’s Resolutions in the past. Maybe you have even stopped making them because what’s the point anyway? Well, you’re not alone… Studies have shown that 60% of people create resolutions, but only about 10% actually make them happen. Why do so many people have a tough time with keeping their resolutions? This episode covers the top ten reasons why, and what you MUST do to ensure your success this year! And, these ten things apply to all goals, not just resolutions…

The Top Ten Reasons Why New Year’s Resolutions Fail:

1. Your psychology is built on avoiding failure and as a consequence, actually enhances the probability that you will fail.

2. You don’t believe that you can do them in the first place, they are made at the last moment without much thought, and failure is expected. (But sometime in the future you WILL figure it out, just NOT NOW.)

3. There is no real plan (no details, no follow through, no nothing…)

4. You do not gather the references or resources that you will need to succeed or to assist in the process.

5. While you may intellectually think you SHOULD do them, you are not emotionally attached to the goal or what you say that they want.

6. There is a complete lack of clarity – the goals are not specific or concise… (“I will work on my marriage.” “My health will improve this year.”)

7. You MUST know WHY you want this. If the “why” is big enough, the “how’s” become automatic. If not, you will block yourself by not finding the “how.”

8. It’s a “should,” not a “MUST.”

9. (This one can be a bit complex,) you really DON’T want what you say you want… (Does the overweight person want to be thin?)

10. So based on the first nine, you build a list over and over every year, it gets longer and longer, and you feel worse and worse, so you overestimate what you can do in one year, and you underestimate what you can do in five! (if you wired yourself to win, EVERY year… YOU WIN!)

Can you relate to any of these? Do you want to ensure success with your resolutions this year?

Take our “New Year Revolution!” online course that guides you through a 9 step process of goal setting, planning and keeping!

Top 10 reasons why new year's resolutions fail (and how to succeed)It’s another year yet again. You know what that means — time to develop some resolutions for the New Year. While over fifty percent of people report that they make New Year’s resolutions every year, only around ten percent keep them. Whether it’s lack of motivation and resources, some common reasons why New Year’s resolutions fail (along with what you can do to succeed) include:

1. Not having enough support

Whatever your New Year’s resolutions are, don’t go it alone. Surround yourself with people who will inspire and support you to reach your goals. Whoever you choose should be a positive force in your life.

2. Setting unrealistic goals

If your goal is to run a marathon in three weeks, and you’re new to running, chances are you won’t be able to meet that goal. Examine your resolutions. Are they what you really want? And, most importantly, are they realistic and attainable? Pick one or two goals that you are confident you can achieve within the given timeframe.

3. Giving up too easily

Everyone encounters setbacks in life. But you shouldn’t let minor setbacks detail all of your New Year’s resolutions. To prevent yourself from giving up too quickly, set benchmarks to meet throughout the year. This will help to keep you on track and give you some momentum.

4. Not developing a plan of action

The best resolutions are those that include a plan of action. Break your resolution down into smaller weekly goals, so you feel like you’re working toward something more immediate. Then make a calendar of something to do every day that’ll get you closer to achieving your resolution.

5. Not being honest with yourself

Do you want to lose weight? Or learn how to cook healthier? Sometimes people create certain resolutions because they feel like they should or have to, even though they don’t want to. Make resolutions that you actually want to achieve and are motivated to do so.

6. Not being specific enough

A lot of resolutions fail because they aren’t specific enough. Resolving to “exercise more” is setting you up for failure since it lacks a way to measure your progress. But resolving to exercise three times a week at the gym on the elliptical machine for an hour each time is doable because it’s specific-enough. It’s harder to give up on detailed and specific goals.

Believe in yourself

It’s clear why a lot of New Year’s resolutions fail — they’re not goals you actually want to achieve, not specific enough, or you lack the support necessary to achieve them. Once you develop some achievable goals and put together a plan of action along with supports, congratulate yourself each time you make progress toward your goal, no matter how small it is. And if you only meet your goal halfway, don’t beat yourself up about it. Instead, pat yourself on the back for making an effort toward your goal.

Four common ways you may be standing in the way of your personal growth.


  • What Is Motivation?
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Top 10 reasons why new year's resolutions fail (and how to succeed)

As we approach the end of 2018, you may find yourself reflecting on your past resolutions. Were you able to meet your aspirations? If so, amazing! Give yourself a round of applause. If not, you’re not alone. According to U.S. News & World Report, 80 percent of New Year’s resolutions fail by February. i What exactly goes wrong in this process? While the reasons vary from person to person, here are four common ways you are standing in the way of your success.

1. Your goals aren’t clear.

Do you know where your goals came from? Why are they important to you? How would achieving these goals influence your life?

If you can’t answer these questions easily, you may need to consider clarifying your goals prior to setting them. Uncertainty about your goals creates room for indifference, confusion, and distance between your goals and your aspirations. You may think the most important step is simply creating the goals, but crafting vague objectives can cause you more psychological distress. ii The crucial component is tailoring tasks that align with who you are and where you wish to be.

2. You feel overwhelmed.

Change can be daunting. It may seem as though you are making a sharp turn to adapt to a path paved with your goals. You may not know where to start, however, you may also be facing pressured to hurry up and do so. The pressure surrounding you may come from your environment, culture, loved ones, and even from yourself. Over time, this pressure may make it seem as though the walls are beginning to close in on you. Even if you surface from the pressure, you may not know where the road begins. Further, even if you do know where the journey starts, looking at the long road ahead may cause you to feel as though it’s too much, too soon. These factors may cause you to quit before you even start.

3. You feel discouraged.

As you strive for your goals, you may become impatient in the process. Perhaps you are not seeing signs of progress, or at least not as fast as you previously expected. You may find yourself reflecting on the pros and cons, and whether the goals are even valuable. iii When this happens, you’re at risk of a snowball effect. iii Rather than getting up, dusting off your hands, and moving forward, when faced with hurdles in the process your goals may no longer seem doable or desirable. iv

If you’re unwilling to abandon your aspirations, you may then find yourself at a fork in the road. At this point, you may the decision to continue as is, or reevaluate your process. You may be set in your ways, comfortable in your routine, and attached to your idea of the goal and the regimented way in which it must be achieved. On one hand, your methods may be adequate and you simply need more time. On the other hand, rigid adherence to your strategies may cause you to be blinded at the other possibilities that may promote goal-attainment. v

4. You’re not ready to change.

Growth isn’t a linear process. vi You may think you are interested in change, and you very well may be, but are you ready? The chances are, if you’re setting new goals for yourself, you may be hungry for some level of change. Nevertheless, failure to thoroughly consider the corresponding what, when, where, and why may cause you to lack the ability to truly ask yourself if you are currently ready to make the necessary changes. You may find yourself making and taking every excuse vii under the sun that helps you step away from your path. This lack of connection, motivation, and dedication doesn’t mean that your goals aren’t representative of your dreams. It may simply mean that they are not the goals that matter the most to you at this present time.

When you know how you may stand in your way, you can empower yourself to move. If you’re ready to make this step, look out for the second part in this series in which I share strategies to set meaningful goals, tackle these four common hurdles, and improve your personal growth.

It’s only weeks into 2016 and your New Year’s resolutions are already on the fritz.

You’re not alone. Only about eight percent of New Year’s resolutions succeed and most go by the wayside within just weeks of the New Year. You had the best of intentions when you made those goals and felt pretty pumped up about them – so what happened?

Turns out that the success of New Year’s resolutions, like any behavior change, is based on many factors. If you fail to consider any one of them, that puts those goals in harm’s way.

Here’s a little 7-step diagnostic to help you figure out why your resolutions aren’t working – and tips to put you on the right track to an enjoyable and prosperous year.

1. It’s not what you really want
Those goals you made – the ones you were so excited about on New Year’s Eve? Well, maybe you didn’t want them enough. At the heart of every transformation is the strong desire to change. To weather the inevitable challenges that come with trying to alter habits, you need to be armed with a high level of motivation. Without that motivation, you’ll have a hard time harnessing the effort necessary to combat and rise above the challenges you face. Fast-forward a few weeks and all of a sudden, you’ve fallen back into your old, unhealthy ways. Dig deep and find what you are most strongly motivated to change, and pursue goals in that area.

2. You’re not ready to change
Even with all the motivation in your world, you need to be ready to make a change. Wanting something badly isn’t enough – you need to be willing to put in the effort and commit to a new habit. If not, you’ll be stuck in neutral mode and end up going nowhere. So ask yourself if you’re willing to make the sacrifices necessary to start and commit to a new behavior. If not, it’s time to re-assess your goals and choose something that you’re ready to tackle head-on.

3. Your confidence is low
We all have that inner naysayer that likes to tell us what we can’t do. We might try to push that self-doubt down, but it will inevitably rear its ugly head if not addressed. Before embarking on any resolution to change, you need to ask yourself if you believe you can achieve your goals. If not, the odds are that you’ll fail. And failure breeds failure, so it’s best to avoid setting yourself up for a toxic chain of events. Instead, identify goals that you are very confident you can achieve. On a scale from 1-10, where 1 is the lowest and 10 is the highest, your confidence for a goal should be at least a 7. If you don’t have that level of confidence, adjust the goals until you do. Just as failure breeds failure, so does success breed success. Set yourself up for actions that you think – no, scratch that – that you know you can achieve.

4. The goal was too ambitious
We are a quick fix society. We want change, and we want it now. The problem is that sustainable behavior change takes time. No matter what the salespeople of those supplements, weight loss programs or self-help guides tell you, you can’t overhaul your habits and become a new person overnight. Successful, long-term change is the result of small, incremental steps. Although shooting for the stars is admirable, if it means that you give up because change is too daunting, then it has backfired. Rewind and rework those goals into something attainable. Goals might be small, or not even a behavior at all – thought processes like writing down reasons for eating healthy could serve as goals too. Achieving small goals will strengthen your confidence and enhance your ability to make even greater gains in the future.

5. The goal was an outcome, not a behavior
Perhaps it’s all those cocktails, but often New Year’s resolutions look something like this – I want to be 30 lbs lighter, fit, and more laid back in 2016. Sound good? As far as a resolution – no. These are what we call outcomes, not behavioral goals. They paint a picture of who we want to be but provide absolutely no information on the steps needed to get there. Goals need to be SMART – S pecific, M easurable, A ction-oriented, R ealistic and T ime-bound. For every outcome you want to achieve, be as specific as you can in spelling out exactly what you’ll do to get there. For example, to lose weight, you could write a goal that you’ll go to the gym three nights per week (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday) to attend a 1-hour spin class after work with your spouse. The more detailed you can get with outlining the behaviors you need to reach your desired outcome, the more you can keep your goals in check and measure success.

6. You never made a public commitment
Are you willing to shout your resolutions from a rooftop? No? Shyness is not an excuse, my friends. Making a public commitment is a first step in making you accountable to your goals. By putting yourself out there and announcing your intentions, you are translating what was once a general desire – to be healthier, happier, more productive, etc. – into something concrete and tangible. It also invites other people to help you refine those goals and keep you on track. If you haven’t been willing to make a public commitment, it probably signals that you’re not ready to take action, not motivated or not confident enough. Whatever the reason, it is a signal that you should stop, step back and reassess your resolutions. What goals are you willing to make public? Those are the ones that you should focus on pursuing in the future.

7. You have no social support
Nobody succeeds on their own. We’re social animals, and we need support – not only in helping us keep on track but also in navigating the challenges we will inevitably encounter. If you’re going at it alone, try seeking out others with similar goals who can serve as comrades, helping to talk through challenges and brainstorm strategies to overcome obstacles. A network of like-minded individuals can share tips to succeed, help you get back on your feet after a slip, and just offer support when you need it. If you haven’t yet already, you might try reaching out to others seeking similar goals online, at work or through personal connections to make the path to a better future a little less lonely and a whole lot more fulfilling.

Top 10 reasons why new year's resolutions fail (and how to succeed)

It’s that time of the year again, when we take stock of the year that’s now behind us and are ready to turn over a new leaf. The start of a New Year seems to be the perfect time for making goals and resolutions, which we call New Year’s Resolutions.

But why so many people fail to accomplish those resolutions?

First, here are some Facts and Figures for you to get the overview of New Year’s Resolutions.

Top 10 reasons why new year's resolutions fail (and how to succeed)

According to the statistics, 45% of Americans make New Year’s Resolutions among the top resolutions are weight loss, exercise, giving up smoking, better money management, which accounts for over 145 million people, big amount right?

However, accomplishing those resolutions is a completely different story. Half of these people keep it to the June and just 8% of them are able to achieve their resolutions.

Why do so many people fail at keeping their resolutions? Are they just unwilling or lazy? Not that simple.

Top 10 reasons why new year's resolutions fail (and how to succeed)

According to Timothy Pychyl, a professor of psychology at Carleton University in Canada, resolutions are considered as a form of “cultural procrastination”, an effort to reinvent oneself. Pychyl argues that people aren’t ready to change their habits, particularly bad habits, and that accounts for the high failure rate. (Psychology Today)

“People make resolutions as a way of motivating themselves”

Now stop a second and forget about that abstract “cultural procrastination”. Is there any reason why people tend to choose the New Year Event as the perfect time to change all of their habits and create goals? What is special about New Year event?

Simple answer, the word “new” in “new year” represents the change, which force people to act as they have to change their lives in that one day out of 365 days. The truth is, people are not ready to change anything, they just make the resolutions as motivation to change.

Psychology professor Peter Herman and his colleagues have identified what they call the “false hope syndrome,” which means

“Their resolution is significantly unrealistic and out of alignment with their internal view of themselves”

This principle reflects that of making positive affirmations. When you make positive affirmations about yourself that you don’t really believe, the positive affirmations not only don’t work, they can be damaging to your self-esteem and then you revert back to old behaviors. (Psychology Today)

Top 10 reasons why new year's resolutions fail (and how to succeed)

The most common mistake is that people usually choose to make very big change to their habits or they want to achieve too many goals at one time. The motivation needed for changing a habit is inversely proportional to the percentage of habit change achieved.

To put it simple, changing a small percent of your habits requires a drastic amount of motivation . You shouldn’t set the goals too high or too many at one time. Be patient and make a step by step plan.

How to make and keep your New Year Resolution?

Here are some tips that make you successfully achieve your New year’s Resolutions:

Choose the right and specific goals

While making New Year’s resolutions, realistically prepare beforehand for time and effort commitment and check all the factors that are mentioned above.

In addition, it is prime to set specific goals. “Exercise more” or “Lose weight’ is a classic example of bad resolution. Your resolution should be like — Loose 15 pounds in four months.Set realistic goals that are in line with your overall lifestyle and occupation.

Make detailed plan and backup plan

It might sound complicated but you need to do much research about what you’re are going to do or to change. For example, if you choose to quit smoking, you’ll need a lot of instruction and information to prepare for it. Use books or internet.

Enough research will help you to make a change. Besides, you need to get everything ready to make sure your plan will run smoothly. If you take up running everyday. You’ll need clothes, shoes, hat, ipod. Then there you go.

One more crucial plan is the backup plan. There are going to be many problems cropping up in progress, you need to anticipate and find the way to cope with them.

Don’t wait till New Year’s Eve to make resolutions

As stated previously, you may not be ready to change in New Year’s Eve, you can do it whenever you feel ready for it and make it a year long process, everyday.

Reward yourself weekly for achieving your goal.

You don’t have to wait until the completion of your goal to celebrate. Reward yourself weekly, monthly something that you’ll look forward to, to recognize your effort and motivate yourself to do it even better. You deserve it and you’ll earn it.

It’s the key to be patient and consistent to go through failure. If you do fail and sneak a cigarette, miss a walk or shout at the kids one morning, don’t hate yourself for it. Make a note of the triggers that caused this set back and vow to learn a lesson from them.

Here are some explanations and recommendations for you to make a perfect New Year’s Resolutions and stick to them. I wish you best of luck in the new year.

If you are looking for a tool to keep track of your habits and goals everyday, you should consider Nirow- An Automatic Habits & Goals Tracker. Visit for more details.

Thanks for your reading. Follow Nirow for more interesting blogs.

Top 10 reasons why new year's resolutions fail (and how to succeed)

Sorry to break it to you, but New Year’s resolutions don’t work. In fact, 92% of them fail. Don’t believe us? Think back to any of the ones you’ve made. Perhaps you vowed to read more, and ended up reading more of your eyelids. And maybe you said you’d eat more healthfully, and then found yourself with a salad, topped with bacon, too much cheddar, and a mountain of croutons. We know because we’re in the same boat.

Einstein once said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.” By Einstein’s standards, we should all put on a straight-jacket before making this year’s resolutions. It’s time we break the cycle.

First, we must study our enemy. Why do our resolutions fail? What is so fundamentally flawed with setting goals on January 1st? Only once we have these answers can we give ourselves a fighting chance of success.

5 reasons your resolutions fail, and how to dramatically improve your chances of success

You have too many resolutions.

Sure, we’d all like to start the year with the hope of reading a book every month, going to the gym every day, walking to work, eating salads 90% of the time, and sleeping 12 hours nightly. Pick one goal, find a small way you can bake that goal into your daily life. For example, if your goal is to read more, set the intention to read for 30 minutes three times per week. Before you know it, those three times will feel so natural you’ll be able to add a fourth and fifth reading session, no sweat.

Your resolutions are too big.

Saying you will drop four dress sizes in four months is all fun and games until you find yourself in the same pair of pants at Thanksgiving. Keep it real by setting your goal to not eat desserts, including doughnuts, pancakes, and muffins at least four times per week.

Your resolutions aren’t concrete.

Arbitrarily saying you’re going to lose weight isn’t enough. You need concrete steps to take to achieve your goal. Turn the resolution “to exercise more” into “to take one fitness class three times weekly.” Once you’ve bagged your 12 fitness classes for the month, treat yourself to something. That could be a massage, or a night at the movies–anything that will help keep you motivated.

Your resolutions don’t fit into your routine.

If you’ve resolved to go for a lengthy hike in nature four times weekly, but you live in the city and don’t get off work until the sun has set, you’re doomed. Set a goal you can incorporate into your routine. Once it becomes a habit you’ll have accomplished your goal for life, and you’ll only keep improving upon it.

You keep it a secret.

Telling the world your goals may be scary because of fear of judgment and disappointment should you not reach them. But it’s one of the best ways to ensure staying on track. Sharing your micro-resolution with your family and friends holds you accountable, and therefore makes you more likely to succeed. Don’t be nervous–be confident.

Set “micro-resolutions” and share them with a trusted ally.

Micro-resolutions are simple, concrete actions that compound over time to achieve a goal. Simply setting micro-resolutions versus lofty, over the top goals makes you twice as likely to succeed. Learn more about micro-resolutions.

Go one step further by writing down your micro-resolution and sharing it. Writing your micro-resolution down, instead of leaving it in your head, makes you three times as likely to accomplish your goal. Even better, sharing your goal with a trusted friend, and then sending weekly follow-ups makes you 10 times as likely to accomplish your goal ! We’ve created the Mountain Trek Goal Tracker , a simple accountability tool, to help you accomplish your goals this year.

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Top 10 reasons why new year's resolutions fail (and how to succeed)

How to make sure that new year’s resolution list gets completed instead of forgotten

There are 4 main reasons why new year’s resolutions fail. Every year people dream up things they want to change with their lives and every year they fail.

You start off with a ton of motivation to succeed and you really want to make the change so why do you fail?

In this article you’ll learn the 4 main reasons why new year’s resolutions fail and also what you can do to stop that happening.

  • SMART objectives
  • Systems over Goals
  • Rapid course change vs 1% direction
  • Environment dictates performance

Watch the video at the end or listen to the podcast for more information

Changing bad habits into good habits

For many people New Year’s Resolutions are about changing bad habits.

  • Stopping smoking
  • Stop snacking
  • Improve productivity
  • Be on time
  • Exercise more

The problem that they encounter is that the bad habits are so ingrained into their lives that they need a big shift to change. They know this but unfortunately the logical solution is not the one you want to take

Little Changes vs Big Shifts in changing your lifestyle

Imagine you were trying to cross a fast moving river to get to the other side.

If you went in a straight line to the other side with the current always pushing against you it will be very difficult and you’ll likely get swept away. The safe exit is to return back to the bank you came from.

Now think about moving in a diagonal direction with the current so you finish further upstream but you successfully make the crossing without much trouble.

This is the difference between rapid shifts and little changes.

Although the little changes seem like nothing happens and you are getting swept along with your previous life, you are gradually moving your position and adapting to change.

When you reach the other side the bank you came from seems like such a far distance away and you can’t see yourself going back there.

This is why I don’t promote rapid fat loss plans or excessive workout systems in clients trying to change their body.

The more votes that you cast for your new lifestyle the more you will move towards that lifestyle.

Having SMART objectives to achieve New Year’s Resolutions

You have probably heard SMART objectives before

  • Specific
  • Measured
  • Achievable
  • Realistic
  • Timed

To be able to successfully transform your body a SMART mentality is needed.

“I want to lose weight” contains none of these objectives, it’s just a random statement.

“I want to lose 30lbs in 3 weeks” – Is specific, measured and timed but not realistic and might be achievable with extreme methods but won’t be a long term solution.

“I want to lose 30lbs in 6 months so that I can get into my jeans and shirt and look great on the beach for my holiday in July” Is a SMART objective and it’s more likely to be successful.

Psychological Strategies That Can Help You Stick to Your Goals

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Emily is a fact checker, editor, and writer who has expertise in psychology content.

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The start of a new year is the perfect time to turn a new page, which is probably why so many people make New Year’s resolutions. The new year often feels like a fresh start and a great opportunity to change bad habits and establish new routines that will help you grow psychologically, emotionally, socially, physically, or intellectually. Of course, resolutions are much easier to make than to keep, and by the end of March, many of us have abandoned our resolve and settled back into our old patterns.  

Why We Make Resolutions

In one study, only around 12% of people who make New Year’s resolutions felt that they were successful in achieving their goals.   Some of the most common resolutions include losing weight, sticking to a healthier diet, exercising regularly, making better financial choices, quitting smoking, and spending more time with family.

While many people feel that they don’t necessarily achieve their resolution goals, there is some good news.

According to one study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology, those who set New Year’s resolutions are 10 times more likely to actually change their behavior than people who don’t make these yearly goals.  

Why do millions of people resolve to change at the beginning of every year? A series of studies into what researchers have dubbed the “fresh start effect” has looked at how temporal landmarks can motivate aspirational behaviors.  

The new year feels like a new beginning, which is why so many people often set lofty resolutions during these times. While this practice can sometimes lead people to bite off more than they can chew, going after resolutions can also present great opportunities to overcome struggles with willpower, determination, and ingenuity.

So, what can you do to make it more likely that you will keep your next resolution? The following tips may help you beat the odds.

Choose a Specific Goal

Every year, millions of adults resolve to “lose weight,” “be more productive,” or “get in shape” during the next year.   Instead of selecting such an ambiguous goal, focus on something more concrete that you can realistically set your sights on. In other words, choose a very specific, achievable goal.

For example, you might commit to losing 10 pounds, making daily to-do lists, or running a mini-marathon. Be sure to make your goal realistic rather than drastic. Choosing a concrete, achievable goal also gives you the opportunity to plan exactly how you are going to accomplish (and stick to) your goal over the course of the year.  

Limit Your Resolutions

While you might have a long list of potential New Year’s resolutions, Richard Wiseman, a professor of psychology at Hertfordshire University, suggests that you pick just one and focus your energies on it rather than spreading yourself too thin among a number of different objectives.  

Focus on One Goal at a Time

Achieving even one small goal can boost your belief in yourself. For larger goals, consider breaking them apart into manageable chunks to work on one at a time. The American Psychological Association (APA) also suggests focusing on just one behavior at a time is more likely to lead to long-term success.  

Taking on too much all at once can be daunting. It can be particularly difficult because establishing new behavioral patterns takes time and sustained effort. Focusing yourself on one specific goal makes keeping a resolution much more achievable.

Put Time Into Planning

Don’t wait until the last minute to choose your goal. Picking your resolution wisely and putting in extensive planning are essential parts of achieving any goal. Experts suggest that you brainstorm how you will tackle a major behavior change, including the steps you will take, why you want to do it, and ways you can keep yourself on track.  

Make a Detailed Plan

Creating a detailed written plan can help you stick to your goal. Why is this stage so critical for success? For one thing, it allows you to consider what tactics you will use when you’re faced with challenges. When things get difficult, what strategies will you use to stay on the path toward making your resolution a reality?

If you start working toward a goal without any type of plan in place, you may quickly find yourself giving up when faced with any sort of obstacle, setback, or resistance. For example, if your goal is to run three times per week, what will you do if you’ve missed four days in a row, and how will you proceed if you need to take time off for an illness or injury?

You can start by writing down your goal, making a list of things you might do to achieve that goal, and noting any obstacles that might stand in your way. By knowing exactly what you want to accomplish and the difficulties you might face, you’ll be better prepared to stick to your resolution and overcome anything that might sidetrack you.

At the start of every year, millions of Americans ring in the new year by creating a list of resolutions to accomplish in the following year. Some of the top resolutions reported again and again are losing weight, getting fit and to reducing and managing stress. What is significant about this is that these continue to be the top three goals of the majority of Americans year after year. What this points to is the idea that few Americans are actually accomplishing these goals, or they would not continue to be the top resolutions year after year.

While many are successful in their attempts to make both significant and not-so-significant changes, many still fail. So what makes the difference between those who succeed and those who fail? Here are 5 reasons why New Year’s Resolutions fail and how you can succeed.

1. Goals are not specific and measurable

While there is nothing wrong with wanting to lose weight, get fit or reduce and manage stress, those are not measurable goals. This means there is no way to genuinely know whether you are succeeding or failing in achieving your goals. Remember that achieving goals is a journey, with many smaller sub-goals that need to be hit on the road to accomplish your bigger, overarching goals.

How to succeed:

If you want to “get fit,” it’s important to set specific goals surrounding what that looks like to you. Do you want to be able to hike a 14-er, run in a marathon or be able to do a certain number of pull-ups, push-ups or weight lifting reps at a certain weight? Being concrete and specific about your goals will help you gauge how close or far away you are from achieving them. In addition, setting smaller goals or benchmark deadlines, will also help you better gauge how you are progressing and allow you to make adjustments along the way, which will help keep you from quitting outright.

2. Goals are not realistic

In many cases, we start the New Year determined to make drastic changes around lifelong issues or even issues that have been building for several years. People who are severely overweight suddenly want to drop 100 pounds, or people with high-stress jobs and lifestyles want to suddenly develop a zen-like calm overnight. In many cases, the best goals don’t even deal with the end result, but rather focus on the process of ultimately achieving that goal.

How to succeed:

Instead of saying “I want to lose 50 pounds” try setting goals that simply promote better health and wellness instead. Cutting out soda or getting in 30 minutes of exercise 5 days a week are all realistic and achievable goals that will help point you in the right direction towards achieving larger weight loss goals. Success tends to build upon success. Once you are achieving success at smaller, more manageable goals, you can up your goals to more challenging ones. If you start with goals that are too big, however, you will most likely just procrastinate until you simply quit and give up altogether.

3. You’re doing it for someone else

No matter how badly you may want to, you will rarely succeed in accomplishing a significant goal just to please someone else. The irony is that in many cases we can want the same things the other person does, but we try and do things just to make someone else happy because they make a great scape-goat when we fail.

How to succeed:

If you have someone in your life that wants you to do something you genuinely don’t want to do, the only answer is to have a very difficult conversation with them about your personal goals. On the other hand, if you both want the same things, it’s still important for you to take ownership of your own goals and make sure you are genuinely working to achieve them for yourself and not someone else.

4. Lack of accountability

The majority of health fitness apps these days give you the option of posting your results to social media. While digitally broadcasting your runs, meals or workouts may not be your style, there is an important element here not to be overlooked. No matter how much we all may long for things to be different, the hard reality is that we all long for the approval of others. That approval even our own perception of that approval can be a powerful motivator. Regardless of whether your friends actually care whether you did your run today or not, we are simply more motivated to do things when we feel like people are watching.

How to succeed:

While posting your daily results to social media may not be your style, it’s important to simply have someone with whom to share your progress. Finding the right person, people, group and means of accountability however, may not be so simple.

Being mutually accountable to someone with the same goals as you can be good, but it can easily become a competition. While a little competition may be a good thing, if you feel yourself getting significantly behind in the competition it may cause you to quit, which will only sabotage your goals rather than enable you to meet them.

Similarly, being accountable to someone who will be very judgmental if you start to fall behind can also be self-sabotaging. It may take some time to find the right means and/ or people to be accountable to, but keep at it. It’s generally a pretty important part of the process of achieving your goals.

5. Lack of budget

Possibly one of the most overlooked aspects of achieving almost any goal is the expense involved, not just of money, but also of time. Healthier food generally costs more than junk food, so if your goal is to eat healthier, you may have to budget more money for food. If you want to work out or get in shape, you may need money for a gym membership or personal trainer. If you want to reduce or manage stress, this may involve attending yoga classes, workshops or seminars, retreats or even paying for therapy. All of these involve more than just extra money, they also require additional time.

How to succeed:

Most of us are living at the outer edges of our resources, which means if we want to do something new, we are most likely going to have to give up something old. Keep in mind, however, that sometimes making cuts in some areas can simultaneously help you meet your goals. If you reduce the number of times you eat out to once a week, that may free up some time to cook your own meals at home. If you walk to the store instead of driving, that will help you get some exercise and even help you reduce and manage stress. The important part is to be realistic not just about what you want to do, but what you are going to have to give up to be able to afford or accomplish it.