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Top 5 Reasons Why 80% of New Year’s Resolutions Fail - Money Psychology
Top 5 Reasons Why 80% of New Year’s Resolutions Fail - Money Psychology
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Money Psychology

Top 5 Reasons Why 80% of New Year’s Resolutions Fail - Money Psychology

Njenga Hakeenah
January 12, 2022

It is 2022 and we can only hope that the year brings good news and tidings. 

Since the past two years have been extremely difficult with so many unfulfilled desires and unmet goals, maybe this year will be kind to us to enable us to achieve our goals. And with what we have gone through, I hope that we have learned that no journey has a straight path and that no situation is permanent.

This includes making resolutions - that thing/list that every person thinks of, writes down, and even tells friends about towards the end of the year and part of the first month of a new year. 

What is a Resolution?

A resolution is a decision to do or stop doing something.

Many people make resolutions such as exercising more or starting to save on different projects. It could also be they are planning a big purchase or just reducing their spending.

By not working towards these resolutions or changing course midway is absolutely fine.

Having given this disclaimer, some of us are keen to see our resolutions through while some will just be happy-go-lucky at it and believe in the stars aligning for their course.

Well, whichever side of life you are on, this is the time to think about resolutions. This article is for you.

A downside though, is that upwards of 80-per cent of all resolutions fail. A U.S. News & World Report shows that this happens by the second week of February. But, it is not all doom and gloom.

About 46% of people who made New Year’s resolutions, according to a 2002 study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology were successful. All it takes is a little discipline for them to be achieved.

Why Do Resolutions Fail by Such Huge Numbers?

Well, trying to do too much at once is one of the most common causes of New Year's resolutions to fail.

To avoid falling into this trap, doing a little at a time is the secret. And, celebrating the small wins when you hit your milestones will help keep you going. Learn more about bit-sized goal setting here.

You can start by creating a habit whereby every week or month you set a new objective for yourself. This may be as simple as choosing not to eat out as often as you do or sleeping early to be able to get early days. At the end of this trial, you can audit yourself and from there start seeing your changes taking shape.

The most common resolutions people make include:

1.   Exercising more

2.  Losing weight

3.  Getting organized

4.  Learning a new skill or hobby

5.  Living life differently

6.  Saving more money by spending less

7.  Quitting smoking and other harmful habits

8.  Spending more time with loved ones

9.  Travelling more

10. Reading more

Why Many People Fail at Realizing/implementing Their Resolutions

1. A Poorly Defined Resolution

Making no effort to develop realistic, time-bound goals can only lead to disappointment.

Your goals have to be SMART ,. Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. By having smart goals, you will be more focused and be able to quantify what needs to be done and how it gets done. You have probably heard of this countless times - but have you actually ever tried to use it?

2. Lack of a Plan

Time can easily go by without you making any progress toward your goals if you didn't make any plans on how to work to achieve them. You need a plan of when and how you are going to do them.

By having check-ins and mini-goals, you will be able to keep track of your progress.

3. Not Defining Long and Short-term Rewards for Yourself

Having a long-term "why" can be helpful but it isn't always enough. When we're getting started with so much to accomplish, then we need incentives that we can look forward to when we reach our goal or each milestone as we have set. This will help us remain on track and focused.

A compelling motivation for doing anything is vital just like creating specific goals for ourselves.

Dan Ariely, a behavioural economist, says he overcame his own bad habits by rewarding himself modestly for every milestone he hit rather than waiting for a bigger one later in the future.

4. Not Believing in Yourself

Sometimes we fail because we underestimate ourselves and, also, the difficulty of reaching a goal. 

Again, many people who set grand resolutions are well aware that they may fail and wonder what the point of having them is. It is not a wasted effort if you can see it through.

Sometimes our expectations will not be realized without both successes and failures. Failing when trying could be the best opportunity we ever get to realise who we are and what we can achieve.

5. Working Alone

To avoid failing, don’t work in isolation. You can do this by letting a few people know that you're working towards a certain goal.  You can tell your circle what your strategy is and ask them to hold you accountable.

Sharing your intentions makes you push yourself even when you don’t feel like it since there is a group of people to report to.

How to Make (and Keep) a New Year's Resolution

  • Start small and build on this - make an inventory of the habits that are building and stifling your progress. Run with what works for you.

  • Cultivate self-confidence - If you want to succeed, don't put yourself in a position where you aren't confident you can reach your goals. Do not make promises to yourself that you cannot keep. Read on>> How self-doubt is killing your dreams each day and what to do about it

  • Create new challenges - come up with a variety of tasks that will increase your ability to believe and act. Avoid procrastination if you are to achieve what you set out to.

  • Be positive - since negative experiences are a part of everyone's life, train yourself to focus on the positive aspects. If you fail, fail forward by ensuring that you keep trying.


It is common for resolutions to fail since they are not the correct ones.

To avoid this, ensure that your resolutions follow the mnemonic acronym S.M.A.R.T. This will help you have a criterion that guides you when it comes to setting goals and objectives.

Remember to be kind to yourself. As they always say, Rome was not built in a day! 

Njenga has over 8 years experience in multimedia and business journalism both as a writer, editor and producer. He has over 5 years of experience in radio broadcasting as a news reader, reporter and presenter. He is also a 2012 Earth Journalism Network-EJN Fellow.

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