Why New Year’s Resolutions Fail
New Year’s resolutions rarely last. How can we make changes in our lives that last more than a few weeks? HINT: It isn’t through New Year’s resolutions!
Many consider the beginning of a new calendar year the time to make resolutions—make changes, set personal goals and change bad habits.
Common New Year’s resolutions include:
- Exercise more, eat healthy and lose weight.
- Learn a new skill or hobby.
- Spend more time with family and friends.
- Quit a bad habit.
- Get out of debt and save more money.
- Travel to new places.
According to U.S. News, about 80 percent of New Year’s resolutions fail by the second week of February. Why? Simply put, because real change takes more than a resolution! Change can be good. Improving our lives is good. But it shouldn’t be something we only commit to doing at the beginning of the year. Instead of making fleeting New Year’s resolutions, we should be constantly seeking to grow and improve. This involves learning what makes change difficult and what really works.
(This blog post is not about New Year’s Eve or celebrations of New Year’s, but if you are interested in learning about why a Christian should avoid New Year’s celebrations, read “The Roots and Fruits of New Year’s Eve.”)
Change is hard
Why do resolutions fail so often? Here are some reasons to consider:
- Habits are hard to break. Significant, positive change in life is caused by forming good habits throughout a prolonged period of time—not typically by a spur-of-the-moment decision made at the beginning of the year. Some say it takes about 21 days for habits to form. Instead of making New Year’s resolutions, it’s better to be constantly working on building good habits, even if you have setbacks and fail along the way (Proverbs 24:16).
“There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure”―Colin Powell.
- Real change takes time. New Year’s resolutions often fail because people get discouraged when they don’t see changes immediately. Bad habits don’t change overnight and must be worked on with consistent effort over a period of time. The Bible teaches that rewards come to those who are diligent and not to those who are hasty (Proverbs 21:5). Real change is achieved by slow, steady and consistent effort.
“Pause and remember—slow and steady will get you where you want to go. If you put too much pressure on yourself for results too quickly, you will quickly give up”―Jennifer Young.
Bad habits don’t change overnight and must be worked on with consistent effort over a period of time.People don’t like to change. We often approach change as a chore or something we force ourselves to do. But change is most effective when we do it because we want to or find a way to make it enjoyable. Take exercise, for example. Instead of doing a form of exercise you dread, find a physical activity you enjoy doing. If the gym is not for you, try a brisk walk in a park, biking or a sport you like. If you’re trying to improve your diet, work hard to find healthy foods you enjoy eating.
“Focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it”―Greg Anderson.
- People lose sight of the big picture. Resolutions often fail because our resolve and vision fade over time. Any time we are trying to change something, we should keep the big picture clearly in our vision. Instead of focusing on the exercise, focus on how you will feel when you are in better shape. Instead of focusing on how hard it is to quit a bad habit, focus on how much better life will be without that vice. The Bible reveals that we are what we think, so change must begin with our thoughts (Proverbs 23:7).
“The most pathetic person in the world is someone who has sight but no vision”―Helen Keller.
Some people can resolve to make changes and succeed on their own willpower. But sometimes we find that change just isn’t happening in our lives. Year after year goes by, and we don’t see anything really changing. If you’re serious about change, it’s time to get out of the “New Year’s resolutions” mentality and commit yourself to being a person who is growing and improving constantly—365 days a year.
When we look at the Bible, we don’t read anything about New Year’s resolutions. But we do read admonitions to be a consistently growing person (1 Peter 2:2; 2 Peter 3:18). Real change comes from the “renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2); in other words, changing our character from the inside out. Life, Hope & Truth is committed to providing our readers practical resources to help them make positive changes—changes that can help you lead a more abundant life (John 10:10). Here is some material that may help with common problems facing people today:
- Do you always feel stressed? Read about dealing with anxiety.
- Do you deal with anger? Read about overcoming anger.
- Do you think too much of yourself? Read about overcoming pride.
- Do you drink too much? Read about fighting drunkenness.
- Do you want to stop smoking or vaping? Read strategies that will help you quit.
- Not reading the Bible enough? Read about strategies for daily Bible study.
- Is there a particular and persistent sin in your life that you are struggling to conquer? Read about “Seven Steps for Overcoming Sin.”