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  • Emma Nuttall

Why do most new year's resolutions fail?

Updated: Feb 10, 2023

The secret to making them stick

We all want to make positive change in our lives and many of us begin the new year with resolutions to exercise more, lose weight, declutter our homes and the ever-popular goal of getting up at 5.30am every morning to meditate and journal! Instagram is full of aspirational content, inspiring us to dream big as we head into a new decade.

Dreaming is important and achieving these goals would make a significant impact on our health and wellbeing however, according to productivity guru Michael Hyatt, only 8% of new year’s resolutions are successful.

Why it's hard to stick to our resolutions

Many people set big, audacious goals that although impressive, are also challenging. Without the right support structures, routines and daily habits in place, such goals can be very difficult to achieve.

It can also be hard to maintain our motivation during busy or challenging times. Generally, we start the year strong but after a few weeks, our motivation wanes, life gets hectic and our resolutions fall by the wayside.

Why do I procrastinate?

Do either of the following sound familiar?

➡️ You join a new gym or fitness program and are pumped to wake up the next morning and smash your goals. However, when the alarm goes off, the workout gear stays in the cupboard, while you stay in bed.

➡️ You start a new healthy eating plan but end up working late and succumb to fast food on the drive home.

Don't worry, you're not alone!

Change is hard and can feel overwhelming and stressful.

We might fear the change itself or fear that we can't change.

So we procrastinate to avoid the discomfort.

How can I overcome the urge to procrastinate?

It’s can be hard to overcome procrastination when there are endless distractions on offer! What does your resistance look like? Is it another load of washing, Netflix or an extra hour in bed? There are also countless household chores and low priority tasks that, although they are necessary as some point, can derail our efforts to complete an important project.


Here are 5 steps that can help:

1. Know your triggers and learn to recognise the thought patterns that give you permission to justify and delay.

2. Eliminate as many distractions as possible before you start a project. Set your phone to silent, turn off digital notifications and ensure your environment is comfortable and conducive to the task you are

3. Say no to low priority tasks, so you can focus on what is important!

4. Support your mind and body by sleeping well, eating well and exercising regularly.

5. Challenge unhelpful thinking and stay consistent by building healthy habits.

How to set achieveable goals

What is the secret to new year’s resolutions that stick? Choosing goals that are achievable, not just aspirational.

In addition to setting the goal, you need to consider the actions and intentions required to achieve it.

Have you heard of the SMART framework? Goals that are specific, measurable, actionable, realistic and timebound have a much greater chance of success.

One of my intentions for 2023 is to declutter. I am setting myself the goal of achieving this by 12 January, before work commitments pick up. I have set aside 5 hours per day over 3 days and have scheduled the time into my diary. Early morning is better for me as procrastination and competing priorities are more likely to factor in, later in the day. I have purchased the storage boxes and space bags that are required to complete this task. I am focusing on the garage and kid’s bedrooms as aiming to declutter the whole house feels overwhelming and unrealistic.

This is an example of a short-term SMART goal. Long term goals are generally more challenging, so it is important to revisit them on a regular basis throughout the year, break them down into smaller manageable steps and set daily intentions that will get you closer to your end goal.

How to stay on track with your goals

If you want to be included in the 8% of people who achieve their new year’s resolutions in 2020, limit the number of goals you set to a manageable number, keep them SMART and take the time to consider the action steps and habits that will keep you on track throughout the year.

For change to be successful, it needs to be realistic and sustainable. It takes patience, consistency and commitment.

You need to get the foundations right and remove the barriers that stand in your way.

Most importantly, you need to surround yourself with the right support.

Are you ready to master your mindset, stop procrastinating and step into your potential? I teach the research-backed steps for achieving lasting change in 'You Don't Need More Willpower'.

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