Why Resolutions Fail

weight management Dec 28, 2022

Katie Breazeale, MS, RD, LD

 

The New Year is coming, and have you thought about what goal you want to set for yourself? The top goals people set for 2022 were health related including exercising more, eating healthier, and losing weight. Baby boomers want to lose more weight (53%) but place less importance on saving money (39%) compared to the younger generations.

Millennials are the most confident in keeping all their resolutions (39%), and Gen Z is 4x more concerned with finding love than any other age group.

 

We have all these great resolutions, but how successful are most people going a through a whole year completing their goals? I have the answer for you!

 

  • 38.5% of US adults set New Year’s resolutions every year.

  • 59% of young adults (18-34) have New Year’s resolutions, which makes it the largest demographic that sets these goals.

  • 48% want to exercise more, making it the most popular New Year’s resolution. The top 3 are all health-related.

  • 23% quit in the first week, and only 36% make it past the first month.

  • 80% of all resolutions for the New Year fail or are given up on by the second week of February.

  • 8% successfully keep their New Year’s resolutions.

 

Well, that is not very promising numbers is it! 9% will be successful. This is where National Quitters Day comes in. Yes. There is a National Quitters Day. I did not know this existed! The date is set for January 17, 2023. 

 

Why do resolutions fail? Is it because a change in the date is not going to magically change our mindsets and behaviors? Are we setting unrealistic goals or timeframes? Maybe we are still contemplating change and are not ready to act or know how to act.  

The main reason why people fail is the timing of New Year’s resolutions. While people want to achieve change, they have yet to be ready to commit fully. Think about it January 1 comes, and you start making a list of all the things you want to achieve this year. Your list may be short or long. You get hyped up on all the possibilities and what you want to do or be. But are you mentally ready to make all these changes? There are these little things called the stages of change.  

Reason 2, the goal is not specific. I want to eat healthier was one of the top goals, but it is not very specific. We want to make SMART goals. Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. These unspecific goals can set you up for failure because how do you know you reached your goal. How were you measuring that you ate healthier? Also, there is no real target to aim for so are you really shooting at anything?

Reason 3, the all or nothing mentality. You know what I am talking about. The missed workout, the over eating all weekend, or too many family and holiday events you believe got in the way. Does one missed workout really ruin your whole plan? I think not! Quitting ruins your whole plan. Successful individuals are likely to experience 14 slip-ups during a 2-year interval, indicating that resilience or the ability to bounce back from setbacks is essential for goal success.

Reason 4, achieving the goal verses building the habits. Resolutions tend to be goal oriented focusing on the one item we must achieve, or we have failed. Whereas process oriented is about the habits created to reach the end result. Habits you create are like mini goals within your big goal. 

Reason 5, relevance to our lives. Do your expectations fit your reality? If your goal is to get up every morning to go the gym before work, but your spouse goes to work before you and you have small children the odds are you’re not leaving the house. You want your goal to be realistic to your life and schedule. 

 

Let’s set ourselves up for success! 

  1. Set SMART goals not vague goals.

  2. Set goals that align with who you are. What do you value? What brings you joy? Make the goal what is right for you not what you think sounds like the right thing to do or what your friends or family may do.

  3. Celebrate small wins! We like rewards and it makes our brains and us happy to get a reward. This will help keep you motivated while progressing towards your goal for the year.

  4. Get support. Social support and interpersonal strategies become important after the first six months of pursuing the goal. 

 

Which statistic will you fall under? Will you be one of the 8% that doesn’t quit on the resolution? Start early on planning your goals instead of waiting for January 1 to lay them all out. 

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