Why Resolutions Fail

Photo by Cultr.Sun

This is a Guest Post by Joseph Philips of Lifelong Project

Did you know that most people ditch their resolutions before January is over and many more give up on their resolutions before springtime? That’s a result based on a survey from FranklinCovey.

And when we fail from a resolution we feel lousy, depressed, and deflated. And then December rolls around and it’s the same resolutions all over again: improve finances, lose weight, start a healthy habit. Before long, the resolutions fade and the process repeats.

I know. I’ve been there over and over and over. And then I learned something amazing: Life will repeat lessons until you learn them. Once more: life will repeat lessons until you learn them.

If you’re on the treadmill of resolutions year after year you need to learn a lesson: Change your approach.

Create Goals, Not Resolutions

First, replace your resolutions with goals. Goals are clearly defined statements of what you will accomplish in a given amount of time. For example, I will lose 25 pounds of weight over the next fifteen weeks. Or, I will save $12,000 over the next twelve months. These are clearly-defined statements with a due date, and that’s the first step to achieving a goal and ditching resolutions.

But here’s a secret: it’s great to have goals, but it is paramount to have the right goals. If you create a goal just because it sounds impressive, but your heart isn’t invested in the goal, it’s going to be a constant struggle to make the goal a reality. If you create a goal to run a marathon, but you secretly hate running, you’re going to be the angriest runner on the road. Goals must be backed by passion, determination, and an overwhelming desire to give your all to all your goals.

Put Down the Grocery List

I’m constantly amazed at how people will write grocery lists, to-do lists, and keep a calendar of events, but these same people won’t write down their goals. Which is more important? The granola bars and bananas on your shopping list or the goals you want to accomplish this year?

It’s true that goals locked between your ears may eventually find their way into your life, but take charge: write down your goals and initiate achievement. Success is not an accident.

When you write down your goal, include the reason why the goal is important to you. Why must you achieve the goal? How does the goal make you feel? Are you inspired by your goal? Are you thrilled at the possibility of your achievement? What will you gain by realizing the goal? Link the excitement of your goal to the hard work, sweat, and effort you’ll need.

Plan For Achievement

Resolutions are usually nothing more than meaningful wishes. The primary problem with resolutions is that we resolve to change some facet of our life, but we don’t create a method to get from the desire to the actual achievement. Unless you create a plan to reach your resolution, it’s probably not going to happen. You can resolve to lose weight, resolve to improve your finances, or resolve to give up smoking, but unless you know how to complete the resolution it’s just an exercising in wishing.

That’s not a subtle point, right? If you want to improve your life then you should create a plan. A plan to create your goal basically breaks down the goal into smaller, achievable chunks. Then define what actions you need to take to get the smaller chunks done. The aggregation of goal components, when completed, equates to the realization of the goal.

The Real Secret of Achievement

While a plan is ideal for every goal you establish, it’s really the execution of the plan that’s the most important. You can create complex, integrated plans for your goals, but until you take action, nothing is going to change. Executing your plan, according to plan, is what you’ll need to achieve all of your goals.

Finally, you don’t need to wait until the next year to create a goal. Unlike New Year’s resolutions you can create a goal for your life at any time – like right now. I encourage you to get to work defining your goals, creating a plan for achievement, and then doing the work your goals require. The real secret to achievement is in the constant, persistent, and logical effort of doing.

Joseph Phillips is the author of the goal achievement book The Lifelong Project. The Lifelong Project helps individuals achieve goals, find passion, and create joy. He has led seminars, keynote speeches, and workshops about goal achievement for organizations, churches, corporate clients, and individuals around the United States and Europe. Visit Joseph’s blog for more details.

Category: Life Hacks



  1. Eduard – thanks for the comment. I totally agree! It’s so easy to want something, superficially, but so challenging to create the mindset, plan, and execution of the plan to achieve the desire.

    Thanks again!
    .-= Joseph Phillips´s last blog ..Five Risks You Should Take =-.

  2. Hey Joseph,

    Your post here got me thinking. I realized people don’t take resolutions seriously. They’re not specific, realistic, or anything like that. Just time bound. They’re more like a joke. This is why goals make a lot more sense.

    .-= Ideas With A Kick´s last blog ..Positive thinking won’t help you now =-.

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Article by: Gilbert Ross