Only 9.2% of people achieve their New Year’s resolutions

The New Year is fast approaching, and you know what that means! Countless New Year’s resolutions that you will create, then fail to follow through on. Statistics say only 9.2% of people ever achieve their New Year’s resolutions. Following these tips will greatly improve your odds.

Many of us get a jolt of excitement and inspiration for the New Year. New Year, new you!  It’s a clean slate – a chance to redefine yourself. So, you set off creating a list of things that you want to do differently this year. 12 months later, you find yourself with unfulfilled promises.

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Why do New Year’s resolutions fail? The problem isn’t you! The problem is your system. Right now, your motivation and inspiration to carry your behaviour aren’t strong all the time. They don’t sustain you because you can’t stay motivated and inspired throughout the year. You are not rising to the level of your goals; you are falling to the level of your systems. Not only that, but most of us are terrible at creating goals. We say things like, ‘quit smoking’ or ‘lose weight’. Maybe we set out to read more books, eat healthier food, or even to learn how to play an instrument. These goals place the focus way down the road, far at the finish line. In short, it’s unrealistic, unsustainable and doomed to fail!

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Making your goals SMART

Your New Year’s resolutions and defined goals should be S.M.A.R.T. Obviously, you don’t want stupid goals so when I say S.M.A.R.T, I’m referring to goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Results-focused and Time-bound.

  • Rather than ‘read more books’ it’s better to say, ‘read one nonfiction book every 2 weeks by spending 30 minutes each night reading before sleeping.’
  • Rather than ‘get in shape’ it’s better to say, ‘lose 5 kg of body fat in 8 weeks by tracking food intake, and eating at a deficit of 400 calories.’
  • Rather than ‘double my bench press’ it’s better to say, ‘improving on the one Rep Max by 10% in 3 months.’
  • Rather than ‘spending less time on social media’ it’s better to say, ‘tracking social media use daily using the iOS screen time feature, and securing an average of 15 minutes or less per day over 7 days.’
  • Rather than ‘learn to play an instrument’ it’s better to say, ‘learning to play one specific song on guitar in 3 weeks.’

[Read more on “Keeping Kids Safe and Occupied During the Holidays: Practical Tips for Budget-Minded Parents”]

Now your goals are rock solid and you’re ready to take on all those New Year’s resolutions, right? Not so fast! Even with rock-solid goals, you’re still likely to face some roadblocks. With too many goals and too few systems in place to reliably implement and sustain them, it won’t work!

Instead, as Charles Duhigg points out in The power of habit;

Focus on a keystone habit that results in a domino effect, aligning multiple other areas in your life. Small incremental improvements are more likely than dramatic shifts to actually result in the outcome you desire.”

For me, that was simply prioritizing going to the gym a minimum of 5 days a week, and an optimal 6 days weekly. This was my keystone habit. I didn’t target a certain weight on my lifts, rapid muscle gain, cardiovascular fitness, or even postural improvements. Those are important goals to me, but I knew they would fall in line if I managed to be consistent in going to the gym! After a few months of sticking to it, I’m proud to say that I have come a long way. Figure out what your own keystone habit is and drive your energy and focus there!


Embrace the inevitable: It’s going to happen – whether one week or one month into the New Year – you are going to slip up! You’ll miss a day at the gym, or find yourself watching F1 racing when you should be studying instead. The fact that you slipped in a moment of weakness, isn’t important. The important part is what you do next. If you get discouraged, give up, and revert back to your old ways, then you’ve failed. But if you know you’re going to have bumps along the way, you’ll get back up, brush it off, reevaluate your system and strengthen it so it doesn’t happen again!

Lastly, never feel pressured into making New Year’s resolutions! The way I see it, it’s much better to create new habits and implement systems at any time of the year. You don’t do it just because it’s a New Year. As long as you want to establish goals that will improve your life, any arbitrary day is acceptable.

For example, in 2018 I started a plant-based diet three days before my birthday. People thought I was crazy for starting a diet just before my birthday – a day that people celebrate with food. To me, it didn’t matter whether I started the day before my birthday or the day after.  It was a decision I made, and I was focused on implementing it regardless of outside variables.

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There’s nothing wrong with setting New Year’s resolutions, but I urge you not to get carried away in the self-congratulatory behaviour of conforming to the New Year tradition. Instead, focus on implementing a system that will deliver the results that you seek in the long term!

[Read our next blog post on “Three easy steps to make great progress in your life and be happy”]

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