3 Reasons We Break Our New Year’s Resolutions


health.comAccording to a Franklin Covey Survey, 35 percent of those who make New Year’s resolutions break them by the end of January. Only 23 percent of everyone who makes a resolution do the victory dance at next year’s holiday party. What happens to the 77 percent of us who joined the gym but never went?

1. We make too many resolutions

Most of us get a tad too eager to change everything we don’t like about ourselves come January 1, so we decide to tackle it all at once. The gut, the long commute to work, the clutter, the Twinkies for lunch … all of it will disappear by the time we watch next year’s ball drop. Maria Trimarchi, Contributing Writer to HowStuffWorks.com says, “One of the most common reasons we break our New Year’s resolutions is that we get a little overzealous when we make them and we over-commit. And as a result, 40 percent of us blame our busy schedules for our lack of follow-through. It’s easier to keep just one resolution rather than several.”

2. Our intentions are shallow

Sure, the bathrooms would look better painted a neutral color instead of the Hello Kitty wallpaper that exists, but is that the one thing that would make you happier this year? If you had to pick one effort that could move you closer to the person you want to be would it be designing a massive fishpond for your backyard or fitting into the dress you wore to your high school Homecoming dance?

Covey, best-selling author of “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” says, “Begin the New Year by setting one New Year’s resolution. Ask yourself, ‘What one thing could I change that would significantly increase my happiness?’ Be honest with yourself and examine your intent, motive and desire for setting your goal. It must align with your deepest values, motivations and with what is most important to you. Otherwise you won’t have the passion or discipline to stay committed when the going gets tough, especially when there are so many other things distracting you from achieving your resolution.”

3. We are too vague

Finally, we don’t stand a chance of making our resolutions last if they lack benchmarks and necessary details. Consider the 10 most common New Year’s resolutions of 2013 (according to PolicyMic.com):

  • Eat healthy and exercise regularly
  • Drink less
  • Learn something new
  • Quit smoking
  • Better work/life balance
  • Volunteer
  • Save Money
  • Get organized
  • Read more
  • Finish those around the house “to-do” lists

It’s not hard to see why most of these didn’t make it to the finish line. How many times a week is “regularly”? Drink how much less? What, exactly, are you going to learn? How do you intend to get organized? Save how much money? Volunteer where? Research by the University of Liverpool suggests that specific goals elicit more motivation because the process of achieving the goals is more defined and the expectations are greater. Even if the goal isn’t realized, the process of setting a specific goal builds self-confidence and elicits momentum.

Image: Health.com

Originally published on Sanity Break at Everyday Health.

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Therese Borchard
I am a writer and chaplain trying to live a simple life in Annapolis, Maryland.

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