top of page
  • Alainnah Knight

Why New Year's Resolutions Often Fail.

For so many years and different cultural practices, individuals and communities have set promises, goals, or intentions for the new year. Over the years, this has shifted into a commonly perceived challenge, casting a shadow of impending doom over the idea of a "goal" for many individuals in the present day. However, the sentiment that they might not be effective or sustainable for many people stems from common challenges associated with goal-setting at the beginning of the year. Here are a few reasons on why those New Year's Resolutions tend to fail and how to approach them a bit more effectively.

Calendar pages flipping through

The Reasons Behind Those Failed New Year's Resolutions:

Lack of Specificity

It can be SO easy to say "I would like to start working on myself more," but what does that look like? What would you like to start doing to work on yourself? What is your reasoning, or motivation for working on yourself? When do you want to start intentionally engaging in the things you want to do to work on yourself? Be specific with what you are wanting to accomplish. And don't overwhelm yourself, start with one specific goal. Maybe instead of "I would like to start working on myself more," its shifted to "I would like to start going to therapy every other week. I would like to have my first appointment within three weeks" or "I would like to start journaling for 15 minutes every day starting today." Give yourself opportunity to be successful with setting a specific goal that is attainable, which brings us to our next topic!

Unrealistic Expectations

Setting extremely high expectations or trying to make too many changes at once can be overwhelming and lead to burnout, which leads to our goals failing. Gradual, sustainable changes are more likely to be successful in the long run. Don't expect yourself to be a whole different person on January 1st, or quite frankly, any day! Again, give yourself opportunity to be successful by not setting unrealistic expectations.

All-or-Nothing Mentality

It can be very easy to adopt an all-or-nothing mindset, where a minor setback or missed day leads to abandoning the entire goal. Embrace the idea that progress is not going to be linear and setbacks are a natural part of the process. Utilizing the setbacks to help us learn more about ourselves is often invaluable in a journey of self-growth and self-discovery.

External Pressure

Feeling pressured by societal expectations or comparing ourselves to others can create stress and distract us from our original intention of setting goals. When we are not grounded in our values and intentions, it can be very easy to be influenced by external pressures. Setting goals based on your own values and aspirations can lead to long-term fulfillment.

Lack of Planning

When we don't plan out our goals, they often remain as this cloud of aspiration without any tangible steps for achievement. Breaking down larger goals into smaller, more attainable and actionable tasks can create a realistic timeline AND build confidence in achieving your goal.

Not Addressing Motivation

What is your motivation for your goal? Goals that lack personal significance or don't align with our values often don't carry the motivation that is needed to attain the goal. When setting a goal, reflect on why a goal is important to you and how it aligns with your values. Are you setting this goal for yourself? For someone else? For society?

Neglecting Self-Compassion

Perfectionism and self-criticism can often deter us from achieving our goals. We cannot shame ourselves into changing. Practicing self-compassion even throughout the setbacks and hardships can make achieving goals much easier.

Disregarding Forming Habits

Establishing new habits is crucial to meeting our goals long-term. Engraining habits into your routine is not instant, it can take anywhere from 18-254 days to build a habit, so be patient with yourself!


While New Year's resolutions can be an excellent opportunity for self-reflection and personal growth, the key lies in approaching them with intention, realism, and adaptability. By setting well-defined goals, creating realistic plans, and fostering a positive mindset, we can increase our chances of success in achieving our goals. BUT REMEMBER! New Year's Resolutions are not necessary, you can always start working towards a goal, you don't need to be stressed by an impending doom start date that society gives you if you don't want to :)

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page