The Resolution Lie: Why 92% of New Year’s Goals Fail


Despite the best of intentions, only 8% of New Year’s resolutions are successful.  Even more shocking, 25% will fail within the first week.  A look at some common causes for failure can be key to setting realistic goals for your New Year.


  • More Americans will make New Year’s resolutions than watch the Super Bowl
  • Only 8% of those resolutions will be successful
  • Understanding why so many fail can be key to setting effective goals for 2017


Self-reflection upon entering a New Year is a common thing.  Defining what went well last year while reflecting on what we’d like to do better is what makes us uniquely human.  So too does our innate struggle to drop old habits and pick up new ones.

Understanding why our attempts at change sometimes fail can help us avoid common pitfalls and build goals that last.

Resolution Pitfall 1- Too Large of a Change

Sadly, life doesn’t work like a montage from an 80’s movie.  You can’t win the all-Valley Karate tournament by hanging out with an elderly Japanese mentor for a few weeks.  Real lasting change takes time and progresses slowly.

This makes resolutions easy, but follow-through hard.  Stretch goals are a challenge because circumstances change and challenges arise which make them easy to abandon.  A better plan is to focus on the steps to attain your goal rather than the big outcome you desire.  By setting more realistic goals you’ll enjoy the journey, build good habits and celebrate small victories along the way.    Progress, not perfection.

Best Practices

  • Remember January is busy, be realistic about what you can accomplish in both the near and long term
  • Carefully consider what your goal will take in terms of time, money and effort. Be realistic in assessing your readiness
  • Start slow. Changing your routine too drastically can bring major unintended consequences to your body, motivation and attitude

Resolution Pitfall 2- Too Broad of a Focus

Many well-meaning people often set themselves up for disappointment in the New Year by being too aggressive.   Fueled by dreams of an “extreme makeover” type transformation, they simply try to tackle too many goals at once.  According to, the top five common resolutions include the following.

  1. Weight Loss
  2. Getting Organized
  3. Finances
  4. Personal fulfillment
  5. Fitness

Tackling just one of those changes can be challenging.  Loading up more is a recipe for failure and reduces the chances of even seeing one through to fruition.

Best Practices

  • Pick a single meaningful change to pursue
  • Give some thought to the impacts to your body, finances and relationships that your goal will require
  • Consider time constraints and other obstacles you’ll face and how you’ll persevere

Resolution Pitfall 3- Poorly Defined Goals

Another frequent culprit in failed resolutions is failing to clearly define the resolution itself.  We tend to think in terms of outcomes or feelings rather than measurable changes.

I want to

… get faster

…be stronger

… look better in a bathing suit

… save money

All are noble intentions, but none are truly goals because they aren’t measurable.  If you don’t know where you are going it is easy to get lost, distracted or not even know when you’ve arrived.  Dialing in a specific and measurable goal is the first step to seeing that goal through to the end.

Best Practices

  • Make your goal SMART (Specific, Measurable, Agreed upon, Realistic & Timebound)
  • Consider writing and signing a formal contract with yourself outlining your goal and the metrics you’ll use
  • Share your goal with a friend or accountability coach
  • Start a journal to track progress toward your goal and set a schedule to regularly review progress

The New Year is full of opportunity.  By carefully building your goals you can take action and make it a year to remember.  If you’d like some help defining and tracking toward fitness, nutrition or strength goals, our coaches would love to help.  Accountability and a rock solid plan can be crucial in making your wish into a reality.