Almost 80% of people abandon their New Year’s resolutions by February each year. Yet that’s not to say that most people just give up. There are perfectly valid, psychologically-proven reasons why so many new year’s resolutions fail—and fail soon after the new year starts.
So let’s uncover the psychology behind the common failures and present the best new year resolution ideas to help you succeed in 2024.
Spoiler alert: we ditch resolutions for routines. 😉
Why is it so hard to keep New Year’s resolutions?
There are many reasons why New Year’s resolutions don’t stick. But the most common reasons for abandoning a New Year’s resolution are:
Psychologists and academics say that unrealistic goals are the main reason people abandon their New Year’s resolutions.
“Holiday intentions are hollow intentions,” says psychologist Dr. Joseph Luciani. “We go from a gung-ho attitude to ‘this is too hard,’” Luciani adds—citing the irony in the timing of the feel-good holiday season with the high demands we then set for ourselves come January 1st.
Challenging objectives lead to overwhelming expectations that quickly become unreachable. This logic explains resolutions’ 80% failure rate just four weeks into the new year.
🔑 Opportunity for Success: Set manageable New Year’s resolutions that involve doing more or less of something—incremental change through routine—instead of a cold, hard elimination (or start) of something in your life.
Not tracking progress
Tracking progress contributes to success in any realm. It’s the only way to know whether what you’re doing (or not doing) is working. Plus, this logical approach can inform whether you keep up the good work or pivot.
Tracking progress is your compass. Without it, you’ll be lost and discouraged. Don’t become a high-failure rate statistic. Instead, track your wins and document your progress.
🔑 Opportunity for Success : Journal your small wins. When you track even the smallest of victories, you’ll feel more optimistic about achieving your New Year’s resolutions in the long run. Plus, you hold yourself accountable.
Consider making a daily to-do list and reviewing them at the end of each day. This routine is a great way to approach your New Year’s resolution mindfully while managing your expectations, creating consistency, and motivating yourself to keep going.
The euphoria of the holidays can make our new year’s goals a fantasy versus a well-thought-through plan of achievement. Make no mistake: nothing is impossible, but failure to plan is simply planning to fail.
🔑 Opportunity for Success: Break your New Year’s resolutions into smaller, actionable chunks. Then, share your progress with supportive friends and family. This routine will help you see real-time improvement and motivate you to continue pushing forward.
How to make and keep New Year’s resolutions
The key to making and keeping a New Year resolve is to ditch the idea of drastic change. After all, slow and steady wins the race. This means:
Choose an achievable resolutionThe easiest new year’s resolutions to stick to are those that you feel passionately about and will add value to your health, life, and wellness. The best top 5 New Year’s resolution ideas for 2024 include:
- Practice more mindfulness
- Learn a new skill
- Save more money
- Spend more time with loved ones
- Read more books
Planning is the best way to set yourself up for success. Establish a plan of action that breaks your long-term resolution into smaller and more manageable tasks and goals; you’ll see your progress in real-time and feel more motivated to keep going all year through.
Tap into the emotion and joy of your success through visualization techniques. What does it feel like as you’ve already accomplished your goal? Consider a vision board exercise to make it a fun day activity, or if you’re short on time, consider a 10-minute meditation to visualize your goal—set the intention.
Form a routineNo matter your New Year’s resolution, routine is the key to achieving your goals. Routines ground you, granting you the stability of habit and repetition – ensuring you’re working towards your goals daily.
Routine creates incremental change.
Instead of expecting a change to happen overnight (or after the ball drops), develop a routine that involves achieving small, manageable goals that contribute to a long-term plan.
Journaling or goal tracking is a great way to bring mindfulness and motivation to your life, encouraging you to continue working hard towards your New Year’s resolution every day of the year.
Eating a light, refreshing breakfast, lighting a motivating candle before work or study, or going for a daily walk are more new year’s resolution ideas that are just routine adjustments that will help you honor and achieve your goals in the new year.
Routine is the New Resolution
The best New Year resolutions are realistic, manageable, and planned. From opting to make more health-conscious decisions to practicing mindfulness more frequently, routine and preparation is the key to developing a New Year’s resolution that lasts throughout 2024 and beyond.
New Year’s Resolution FAQ
What is a new year’s resolution?
The meaning of a New Year resolution is to make a firm decision to do or refrain from doing something over the coming year.
New Year’s resolutions are often commitments to continue good practices, eliminate undesired behaviors and accomplish personal goals. Popular New Year’s resolution examples include quitting smoking, joining the gym, and eating a healthier, balanced diet.
How often do New Year’s resolutions fail?
Of the 45% of Americans that make New Year’s resolutions, approximately 80% of these fail by February, and only 8% of these resolutions are kept for the whole year.
What are the top new year’s resolutions for 2024?The best New Year’s resolution ideas for 2024 are those that easily fit into an existing routine and are planned for in advance of the New Year. Our three favorite New Year’s resolutions examples for 2024 are:
- Learning a new skill
- Being more mindful
- Spending more time with loved ones