Revealed: Why It’s So Hard to Achieve Your New Year’s Resolutions

17 December, 2014

New Years Resolutions


January 1st 2015. Write New Year’s resolutions. Tick.

February 1st. Forget New Year’s resolutions. Tick.

This time of year is all about setting goals. Unfortunately for most of us that means recycling the same ones we had last year, leaving us feeling inspired and unworthy. (I can’t believe I’m writing these goals again. But this year it’s going to be different. It really, really is.)

Sound familiar?

You may have noticed there’s a dark side to New Year’s resolutions. There are a number of conspiring reasons why it’s super difficult to tick them off. And they go like this:

You take your eye off the ball

I think this is the most critical reason of all and underpins all the others. When we don’t achieve our goals it’s because something more important has distracted us. Here’s the thing: the only thing you’re guaranteed to do in life is the one most meaningful to you. And if what’s on your list looks meaningful, but in reality something more important crops us, you’re going to go for that something else. Trust me.

You don’t believe you deserve it

This is harsh, but true. A perfect example of this is underdog at the Wimbledon final who’s three match points up – and then loses to the higher seed. She didn’t believe she deserved it. I use the female gender specifically. As women we’re really good at undermining ourselves, not owning our full power and subordinating to people or concepts we’re in awe of.

You’re sacrificing something else

We forget this bit. If we say yes to a better body, we’re saying no to something else, like:

  • an extra hour a day with the children while we go to the gym,
  • dinner out with someone special
  • coffee, cake and a good goss with your best friend

If these things are more important to you than those extra 5 kilos, then swoosh, that resolution disappears faster than a mail from your outbox.

You don’t take responsibility

We all have things we don’t want to do, so we avoid them. Somehow we think someone else is going to make it happen or magically take it away. Stop that right now! Each goal we set ourselves has easy bits and hard bits. You can’t take the good stuff and leave the stuff you don’t want. Life doesn’t work like that.

You’re not loved for it

There will be naysayers and haters with everything you do. Even your avid supporters might be skeptical and hold you back. “Is that a real job?” “How will you afford to feed yourself?” “Why don’t you wait a little longer until you’re absolutely sure?” You can’t let these well-meaning worrywarts derail you.

You’re trying to do too much

If someone throws a tennis ball to you, you’re likely to catch it. If they throw 10, you’re unlikely to catch any. Pick one goal. What’s the one thing you want to achieve more than anything? For 2015, consider having just this one. No delusions, no distractions, no disappointment.

You actually achieve your goal

You win the race/lose 10kgs/get the promotion. How cool is that! And then what happens? You miss your workout just his once, you have a slice of birthday cake because it would be rude not to, and you don’t answer that important email because it’s the weekend, dammit! In other words, you got the cream and now you start getting lazy, and before you know it you’re worse off than you were before.

But here’s the good news. It’s not just about discipline. The experts say that in order to fulfill your New Year’s resolutions you need to build on something you’ve already created, or are already good at. These things pave the way for more growth and build confidence and self-esteem. Think about what you’ve already created in your life and want more of. Is it love and kindness? A sense of meaning and purpose? More money? How can you apply what you’ve already learned to attract and build more of it? This, plus being grateful for what you already have will help you grow and stretch, and tick those resolutions off your list.

Robyn Young - Personal Leadership Branding for Executives

About the Author

Robyn Young

As a personal leadership branding strategist, Robyn Young helps individuals identify and articulate their unique strengths, values and goals, empowering them to build an authentic personal brand that resonates with their stakeholders.

Robyn has a keen eye for aligning personal attributes with professional aspirations, helping her clients project a powerful and compelling image in their chosen field.