Why new year resolutions fail and how we can reverse it

There's no denying when the end of another year rolls around, you can't help but reflect on the past 12 months and those previous new years goals that somehow diminished early on.

There's no doubt you had the drive to succeed at these goals. Because ultimately, we all want to be the best version of ourselves in our lives, careers and relationships.

The drive ignites a fire of excitement in your belly for the future, starting off the new year with guns blazing but, it doesn't take long for the burnout feeling to kick in, and before you know it, you've resorted back to your old ways.

The critical factor in goal setting is execution or, lack thereof in some cases.

As the decade comes to a close, let's reflect on, not only what you want to achieve in 2021, but for the new decade... and beyond.

With 10 brand new years ahead of you, full of endless opportunities awaiting, don't feel intimidated, it's not as daunting of an exercise as you might think.

Let's break down a few of the reasons why your previous resolutions may not have stuck, so you can grab 2021 by the baubles and execute your goals to become some long term sustainable ones.

Remember why you started and what you wanted to achieve
Credit: Photo by Jose Silva on Unsplash

Why we don't stick to goals

Are you guilty of starting out strong but fizzling out on the road to achieving our goals?

You aren't alone. We don't have good role models for how to succeed when it comes to goal setting, often we aren't even aware of the goals many people around us are aiming for.

Seriously. It is like we have to keep them quiet because we talk about it too much we will fail. This is why we suggested in the preparation post that you have some accountability steps, whether it is a person to motivate you or a rewards system for achievements.

We tried to overcome the major reasons in the preparation process, so you should be able to sidestep the major problems;

  • Unrealistic or overly ambitious goals
  • Not understanding why you are trying to achieve this goal
  • Choosing goals that don't align with each other or fit into your life
  • Not being prepared for setbacks
  • Lack of motivation or inspiration

If you have completed your goal setting templates then take a look to make sure you have covered these things. If you didn't use our templates to set your goals, then now is the time to do so.

But if you have done all these things and you still need some pointers on how to make progress or even get started, then keep reading...

Basic tips to make progress on your goals

So you are excited about your goals, you think about them a lot but you just can't seem to make the progress you were hoping for.

1. Stay focused

Progress check yourself at least once a week. Pull up your goal planning and check on how you are doing.

Make sure you are constantly reminded of the reasons why you are implementing a new goal. Let's say, you want to start hitting the gym in the mornings before work.

Pack a gym bag the night before and get creative with your alarm in the morning by labelling it as 'gym time!'

You can even place some sticky notes around your home with affirmations. I like to place one on my fridge, mirror and my front door with "I love feeling fit and strong" or "The older I get the healthier I become." These help to remind me that, only good can come out from my early morning gym sesh and it sparks some positivity before I leave the house.

A few more tips you can try are;

  1. Mark off any completed milestones.
  2. Plan out what you need to do that week to work toward the next milestone.
  3. Remind yourself of the ways in which you could fail and how you would turn it around.
  4. Consider your inspiration, motivation and the reason for wanting this goal.
  5. Take a moment to visual life after the goal is complete.

2. Reduce procrastination

Use your calendar to schedule a time to work toward goals.

During the time you have scheduled use focus booster to ensure you get to work, rather than catching up on social media, news and celebrity gossip.

3. Prioritise

Life gets busy and sometimes making progress on your goals means pushing other things to the background. For example, you might like to run a tidy ship at home but what if, every second week, you could redirect those 4 hours of cleaning and washing on a Saturday morning to making more inroads on your goal? That could mean some serious progress.

4. Learn to say 'no'

It is okay to say 'no' to make your life work for you.

If you have 'goal time' scheduled and someone calls to see if you want to hang out you can say no. Suggest another time that suits you.

If you are doing so much overtime at work that you can't work on your own goals, start communicating to re-frame expectations.

5. Build a habit

If you want to really excel at your goal you need to make a habit of it. Set aside a regular time to work on it, whether it be daily, weekly or monthly.

Build a habit and make a plan
Credit: Photo by Jose Silva on Unsplash

Evaluating why you are stuck

The sheer amount of planning you did should have helped you to choose goals that were well aligned with your life and your vision for the future, but sometimes there is more at play than we realise when it comes to setting our goals.

Is your 'why' strong enough?

Perhaps you set a goal that you thought was good for you but upon reflection, the reasons for achieving it really aren't strong enough.

Here is an example; we all know plenty of people who trim up with no issues when their wedding is approaching. Their 'why' is very strong... they want to look flipping fabulous for their big day. But when they tried to lose weight to feel great on that tropical island holiday 4 years before, they couldn't make it happen. Even to pull off swimwear photos wasn't enough.

Sometimes you will set goals that for whatever reason, at that point in your life, you just don't have a strong enough pull to complete.

In this scenario, you should reconsider your why. Have you misinterpreted your reason for wanting to complete the goal? For example, you thought you wanted to learn to cook better so you would make a more attractive partner but what if you reframed the why? What if you wanted to learn to cook better so you could be a more healthful you, or so you could impress your friends with an amazing birthday dinner party?

If the goal is important to you then it is imperative you correctly interpret your 'why'.


Are you frozen at the starting line? Unable to start because if you do things will be different. Either you will be following a new path or you might not succeed and it will mean the end of the road for that dream.

No one likes to fail but when you set goals for yourself you have to be prepared to face the fear of both failing and succeeding. Yes, when it comes to setting goals even success can be scary because it can mean leaving people behind, it can mean traversing uncharted waters, it can mean uncertainty.

So setting out to achieve goals means overcoming fear.

If fear is holding you back, take heed of this...

You have a detailed, step-by-step plan laid out. The reason for this is that it enables you to tackle one step at a time. There is no huge change just a series of small ones. Just like there is no huge failure, you can just tackle one step at a time and if you make a mistake you get back up again and keep going.

If you still need to release fear follow these steps;

  1. Discard any non-physical fears. If you are self-doubting or anxious you need to release those feelings to allow you to reach your full potential. Write down everything you are afraid of in relation to your goals and safely destroy it as a representation of letting the fear go.
  2. Adopt an optimistic outlook. Fear will bog you down so examine your goals and find the positives in succeeding or failing. This will help you to come to terms with all scenarios.
  3. Do not let the little voice inside your head get you down. You are enough and you can do anything you put your mind to. Read more on this under self-love and appreciation.

Now you have addressed your fears you can climb over them and start working toward your goals.

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it.”
- Nelson Mandela

Release the fear of failing in order to grow
Credit: Photo by Kyle Glenn on Unsplash

Self-control and willpower

Self-control is the deliberate act of suppressing your urges and desires. It is the brake that stops you from rolling uncontrollably down the hill.

Willpower is the power of one's own will. It is the accelerator that drives you forward.

Both words represent the ability to resist short-term temptations in order to meet long-term goals but the thing is they are finite resources.

If you tempt someone on a diet with junk food every day they will eventually give in and eat it.

So the key to harnessing self-control and willpower is to reduce temptation. Don't go on a diet without throwing out all your junk food. Don't walk past the bakery on the way to work when you didn't have time for a healthy breakfast.

Knowing the why for your goal, the motivations and inspirations you have identified to keep you going will only get you so far. The rest will require you to plan your days carefully to ensure you don't exhaust your willpower and self-control. The further you progress toward your goals the stronger your will becomes.

Practicing self-love and appreciation

We are all guilty of self-deprecating behaviour but if you want to achieve your goals, you need to banish that mindset. You need to be supportive and understanding of yourself.

The best way you can improve your outlook is to monitor your self-talk. When you are fearful or self-doubting remove yourself from the situation, imagine it was a friend telling you how they are feeling and use the reassurances you would give them to help you regain your confidence.

It is amazing how much of what we think about ourselves and our abilities would be entirely horrible if said about someone else.

Learn to be kind to yourself, to appreciate your talents and laugh at yourself. You are enough and you can do whatever you set your mind to.