New year’s resolutions don’t work – said every personal development guru trying to have edgy, different marketing that stands out from the crowd.
Is that actually true though? Nobody has ever made a new years resolution that worked out in the end? I highly doubt that.
New year’s goals don’t work for most because the mindset is wrong, the action they take is flimsy, and their belief in themselves is nil.
But the fact is, as humans, we’re driven toward change, and making changes at the beginning of the year is a great way to not only feel accomplished in December, but have enough time to start, analyze your failures (which is fine) and see results toward the fall and winter months.
Each January you have an opportunity to pick one thing that you want to grow into or grow out of and achieve it, creating a wonderful life where you learn lessons and experience new heights you could only dream of.
But if you believe that “new year’s resolutions are bullshit, here’s what I want you to do instead” crap, I doubt it will happen.
Please be prepared to rekindle your faith in the changes that can happen this month, and get excited to shed the old and embrace the new, because we’re about to learn how you can become the hero in your own life’s movie.
What are New year’s resolutions?
New year’s resolutions are a personal vow you take at the beginning of the year that sets your intention to either do, or not do something. It’s a process of initiating some type of valuable change in your life so you can become more of who you desire to be.
The History of New Year’s Resolutions
The concept of reviewing the past year and setting resolutions for the year to come stretches all the way to Babylon, and is nearly 4000 years old. The Romans (under Caesar) also used the January 1st date to recollect on their deeds and resolve to do better in the coming seasons.
In the near-mid 1700s, Christians created a spiritual version of the normally calamitous new year celebrations where they prayed and made resolutions to be more serious in their practice.
In 1933 about one quarter of adults in the United States were setting new year’s resolutions.
In the present nearly half the country (United States) reports that they set new year’s resolutions for the year to come.
Do New Year’s Resolutions work?
I know you’ve scrolled instagram (or wherever) and seen someone talking about how setting goals for the new year doesn’t work, only to find that once you click they’re really just rebranding new year’s resolutions as something else by slightly tweaking the definition a bit.
New Year’s resolutions work just fine, but they’re essentially new years goals, and most people don’t know how to properly set and execute goals. That’s the problem.
Another reason new year’s resolutions fail is the reason why many people set them in the first place.
Most resolutions are personal development related (which probably clues you into why I like them), and ideally, made with a clear head.
However, lots of people set their resolutions in the wake of winter and holiday depression.
- They ate too much
- Didn’t exercise
- No snow for Christmas
- Drank too much alcohol
- Broke their routine
Now they feel guilty and set insane resolutions like “I’ll lose 50 lbs in 3 months” – which is technically possible, but not thought up from the right place.
Not to mention, most of us set HUGE lists of insane goals that fix every single aspect of our lives that we’re not happy with.
We’re going to fix our weight, eating, wardrobe, make more money, become more charismatic and drink less. That’s too much brain pain to handle.
Combine all that with a lack of execution and you get a new year’s resolution that fails every time.
That doesn’t mean they HAVE to fail. Once you have the knowledge you need to succeed, new year’s resolutions will be your best friend. Setting small goals for the tiny wins is the key.
50 Statistics on New Year’s Resolutions
Keep in mind that these statistics are for the United States only for the most part. Also, updated new years resolution stats might be missing for this year because they haven’t been acquired yet.
Here are some interesting facts you might wanna know about setting your January goals.
- 45% of Americans say they set New year’s resolutions
- ^ 8% succeed at accomplishing those goals
- only 4% of people who made resolutions in 2018 kept them
- most people quit their resolutions the second Friday in January (that’s only 10 days)
- 188.9 million people in the United States set new year’s resolutions in 2021
- 46% of Americans in 2018 said they set resolutions – 54% they didn’t
- In 2018, 13% said they kept none of the resolutions they set, 16% said some, 8% said most and 4% said all.
- In 2014 35% of those who set resolutions admitted that they failed because their goals were unrealistic.
- In 2014 those 33% of those who failed said they didn’t write down or maintain detailed records of their progress – 10% said they made too many resolutions to reasonably keep up with.
- 27% of Americans set new year’s resolutions in 2020
- Of those who said they made multiple resolutions: 46% wanted to eat better, 45% they wanted to lose weight, and 40% they wanted to save money
- In 2021 the most common new year’s resolutions were losing weight, getting more exercise, saving/accumulating money and advancing in their career desires
- After the five most popular new year’s resolutions, Americans said they wanted to Spend more time with family (18%), Take up new hobbies (14%), Other (13%), give up smoking (10%), decorate or improve their homes (10%), volunteer of do charity work (15%), drink less alcohol and quite drinking altogether (6%).
General statistics for New Year’s Resolutions:
- 50% of Americans said “Doing more exercise or improving fitness” was one of their resolutions
- 48% said Losing weight was one of their resolutions
- 44% said Saving more money was one of their resolutions
- 39% said Improving my diet was one of their resolutions
- 21% said Pursuing a career ambition was one of their resolutions
- 18% said Spending more time with my family was one of their resolutions
- 14% said Taking up a new hobby was one of their resolutions
- Another 14% said “Something else” other than the choices offered was one of their resolutions
- 13% said Spending less time on social media was one of their resolutions
- 10% said Giving up smoking was one of their resolutions
- 10% said Decorating or renovating part of my home was one of their resolutions
- 10% said Volunteering or doing more charity work was one of their resolutions
- 5% said Raising money for a charity was one of their resolutions
- 4% said Cutting down on drinking was one of their resolutions
- 2% said Quitting drinking entirely was one of their resolutions
22 Generational Statistics for New Year’s Resolutions:
- 38% of millennials set new year’s resolutions
- 29% Generation X set new year’s resolutions
- 24% of Baby Boomers
- Over half of millennials prioritize saving money as a resolution
- 49% Generation X prioritizes losing weight
- 67% of Baby boomers are interesting in exercising more this year
- 47% of millennials said Doing more exercise or improving their fitness was of interest to them, along with 43% of Gen X and 67% of Baby Boomers.
- 41% of millennials said Losing weight was a resolution with 49% of Gen X and 57% baby boomers
- 55% of millennials said Saving more money along with 38% of gen x and 43% of baby boomers
- 38% of millennials said Improving my diet along with 32% of gen x and 47% baby boomers
- 34% of millennials said Pursuing a career ambition along with 15% gen x and 10% baby boomers
- 21% of millennials said Spending more time with family along with 17% of gen x and 16% of baby boomers
- 12% of millennials said Taking up a new hobby along with 12% of gen x and 18% baby boomers
- 14% of millennials said Something else along with 16% of gen x 16% of baby boomers
- 16% of millennials said Spending less time on social media along with 14% of gen x and 7% of baby boomers
- 6% of millennials said quitting smoking along with 18% gen x and 13% baby boomers
- 9% of millennials said Decorating or renovating their home along with 9% of gen x and 13% of baby boomers
- 6% of millennials said Volunteering/charity work along with 14% gen x and 17% baby boomers
- 6% of millennials said Raising money for a charity along with 4% gen x and 7% baby boomers
- 6% of millennials said “Don’t know” along with 7% of Gen x and 0% baby boomers
- 6% of millennials said Decreasing their drinking along with 4% Gen x and 1% baby boomers
- 4% of millennials said Quitting drinking all together along with 3% Gen x and 0% of baby boomers
Takeaways from this statistics:
The number one thing to notice with these stats is that most people don’t understand how to turn a new years resolution into a goal, and then pursue that goal successfully.
Secondly, almost all new years resolutions fall within the categories of health/fitness, family/social relationships, career/finances, OR overall happiness, which are some of the main life areas for all humans.
When setting resolutions, consult the wheel of life exercise to see which area of your life is the most out of order.
How to Figure Out What Your New Year’s Resolution Should Be
Use the Wheel of Life exercise to score each area of your life and determine where the most change needs to be made.
Also consider your personal desires and what you want to accomplish in the next year.
You can either go with the traditional life areas that Coaches use with clients (Social, career, financial, intellectual, family, spiritual, health) or list the most important life areas for you personally (if you already have some in mind).
- Partner, parents, manager, colleague, team leader, sports player, community leader, friend, work, health
- Career, finance, personal growth, health, family, relationships, social life, attitude
- Self image, business and career, personal studies, finances, health, friends, family, love, fun, contribution
New Year’s Resolution Worksheet / Template
Download this new years resolution worksheet to quickly isolate your resolution, turn it into a goal, and achieve that goal with the least chance of failure. You’ll learn how to:
- Figure out your resolution
- Cut through the millions of ideas you have
- Pursue with effective action
- What doesn’t work
- What to do if you slip up
- How to review your progress properly each quarter
- Shift your identity to someone who’s achieved the result
How to Set Them Properly and Make Them Stick
In order to make your new year’s resolutions stick: ask yourself, What are the key themes of your life you want to expand on? What worked for you last year, what didn’t work for you last year? Lastly, What can you live without that is weighing you down?
The keys to making new year’s resolutions work:
- Identify what you want
- Understand what’s getting in the way
- Isolate areas of your life that need improvement
- Turn your desire into a goal then your goal into a master plan
- Make a firm resolution to not only achieve those results but
- Also tell yourself that it doesn’t matter if you fail, you WILL keep going
- Tell someone supportive that you trust. Not someone who’ll discourage you
- Record your progress
- Analyze that progress each month
- Shift your identity to a person who already has the result
Don’t make your resolutions random – dive deep into what and why you want to make any given change. Think “This is what I want” rather than “It might be nice to…”
Use the wheel of life, or “health, wealth, love and happiness” to decide which areas need to be worked on. Then make your resolution a series of small goals that accomplish a huge vision for the area of your life most in need of improvement.
Isolate what changes you want to make.
- What happens in your life that causes the situation you want to change?
- What beliefs do you have behind the habit?
- What is your mindset before, during, and after engaging in the activity you want to change?
Lastly, decide who you are when you do the thing you want to change. Then imagine who you are when you have successfully made that change.
- Imagine the steps in between who you are now and how you want to be. That is the process of achieving your goal.
Set mini goals: miniature goals are your main vision broken into smaller chunks. If your main goal is to write a book, your mini goals could be:
- develop a book idea,
- create an outline,
- do research,
- finish your first draft etc…
Accountability Partner: Literally just a person who holds you accountable. There’s some shame in letting another person down when they expect you to show up with results that is motivating.
Internal meditation, self care and forgiveness: Visualizing the outcomes you want make it clear what to say yes and no to during the day. It’s also important to take a day off when you feel like you’re burnt out or seeing diminishing returns. Forgive yourself for your weaknesses and know that you’re getting stronger each day. Tell that voice in your head to fuck off.
Continuation after failure: After you tell it to scram, continue on with your plan. You’re not failing, you’re reaching your limitations, stumbling and then continuing on. You don’t stop running a marathon if you trip.
Never give up, failure means start again: Once you start again, continue on with your same plan as if it was never interrupted.
Harness the power of implementation intentions: Implementation intentions are just that. You create intentions to implement a certain behavior either: when you know you will stumble, or when you know you have a chance to accelerate. Think about it like Mario Kart: You have obstacles to avoid and power ups to get. Create a vision in your mind (a plan) to do, or avoid certain things when they occur in your life.
- Example of implementation intentions: you drive by a gas station each day to get to work and normally you pick up unhealthy food there. Your intention when you see the gas station coming up is to push play on a recording you made for yourself (connected to your stereo) that reminds you of why you’ve chosen to eat healthier.
- Example (2) of implementation intentions: After your first intention succeeds, your second will lead you to a health food store half a mile up the street that has better food options for your day at work.
New Years Resolution Hacks
5 second rule: Created by Mel Robbins – when you have an idea to get up and do something good for yourself (like exercise) count to five and do it. Otherwise, after five seconds we have a tendency to second guess and make excuses for ourselves.
High five: The High Five method also comes from Mel Robbins. Her idea is that first thing in the morning, you wire yourself for a positive kick ass day, instead of defaulting to a negative view of yourself.
Mel Robbins on her High Five Method.
Hard ass Mentality: When I think about who embodies this attitude best, I naturally think of someone like David Goggins. He’s a retired Navy Seal, and the way he motivates himself and others is what I call the Hard ass Mentality.
It works for me, and if you’ve got the right mindset and personality, it could work for you as well. It’s a “refuse any kind of weakness” mindset that you adopt, where you wake up in the morning, tired, dehydrated and just say “Get out of bed you wimp.”
In a personal development world where self care, acceptance and loving yourself has taken over, this might be the least popular way of getting results right now, but that means nothing.
If it works for you, it works. Period.
Soldiers, warriors, fighters often choose this method to snap themselves out of any delusion that keeps them from their goals. For people like this, being weak is the ultimate disrespect to themselves and others.
So when you find yourself taking cheat days, sleeping in, etc…Remember, that’s what weak people do.
Not a strategy for everyone.
Self Care Mentality: This is a method for people who might not be as rough around the edges as the Hard ass mentioned above. It sounds like I’m being dismissive, but I’m not – people have skills in different areas.
If you think you’re someone who bruises easily, completely changing your routine and working toward an awesome goal might rattle your cages a bit.
Schedule some self care daily, or once a week, or however much you think you need it. A good rule of thumb is that whenever you feel like “Fuck this, I hate this”, that’s probably a good time for a rose petal bubble bath or some Netflix (or however you unwind).
Remember, everyone needs a break. Working 7 days a week, I burn out around every 4 months and have to take a week or so off. You might need it once a week. Take what you need and keep going afterward.
Dont Care Mentality – This is really for people who struggle immensely with getting anything done. This is a last resort. If the change you want to make is so large that you need this hack, you probably need to set a smaller, less radical goal.
That being said, every now and then you might benefit from just telling the pressure you put on yourself to fuck off.
2 Minute Rule for Starting: I forget who said it, but motivation often arrives after starting. Motivation almost never comes before starting. The inertia of sitting still and being comfortable is too strong to fight with just will power.
But your will power almost never keeps you from doing the thing for two minutes, which is often the easiest part.
What happens is, once you’ve done it for two minutes, there is inertia for that as well – you’ve got the ball rolling.
Once you’ve started for two minutes, you’ll realize it’s not that bad, and you’re no longer weighing the comfort of not doing it against the pain of starting. You’re now weighing the ease of doing it against the pain of losing the benefits of the activity, and might as well keep going.
“I have to go to work—as a human being. What do I have to complain of, If I’m going to do what I was born for—the things I was brought into the world to do? Or is this what I was created for? To huddle under the blankets and stay warm?”– Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations
Work backwards: Give yourself and endgame, a vision, or finite goal that can be accomplished. Work backwards.
- What is the step that comes just before the goal is accomplished?
- And before that?
- Keep going until you get to the starting point, then execute.
Set an inspirational goal: A goal you really believe in, rather than one you need will always be easier to accomplish.
You’re average and going to fail: There are no great human beings. We’re all average. In fact, I would put forth that there was never a great human who ever existed.
Most human beings are utterly average when you compare what they’re great at to what they’re not.
There are a million things you can be good at, and even the most successful people are good at maybe five.
Think about it – a great person doing great things isn’t very impressive. You expect it from them – but an average person doing great things is extraordinary.
We’re all average at almost everything, and so are you. I heard Tom Bilyeu say this and I thought it was brilliant. You don’t need to be great to succeed at anything, you just need to be average – and you are. So do it.
The Best New Years Resolutions Ideas
Top 10 Most popular & Most Common New Year’s Resolutions
- Eat healthier
- Exercise more
- Lose weight
- Save more money and pay off debt
- Learn a new skill or hobby
- Travel more
- Watch less TV
- Read more
- Find a new job
- Volunteer with a charity
- Start your own business
- Quit smoking
- Drink less alcohol
- Spend more time with family and friends
Here is a list of examples of good (and some of the best) New Year’s Resolutions.
Good New Year’s Resolutions: Good resolutions make SOME improvement in your life.
- Smile and compliment others more
- Eat less fast food
- Save money and put most of it in a savings account
- Keeping a gratitude journal
- Starting every day by accomplishing your main daily priority.
Best New Year’s Resolutions: The best resolutions make necessary and drastic improvements to your life.
- Learning how to carry on a meaningful and inspiring conversation.
- Creating an effective workout routine for yourself.
- To stop buying processed foods and eat only whole foods.
- To start some type of investment plan for your extra funds each month.
- Waking up earlier to accomplish your exercise, breakfast, and reading before work.
- Creating a list of hyper effective activities that will optimize your life: cold showers, superfood smoothie, writing down, some type of meditation etc…
New year’s resolutions for Students:
- 2 solid hours of studying/homework each day before anything else
- Putting a hard stop/limit on partying
- Create a way to make passive income before graduating college.
- Have rudimentary personal development skills like (Purpose, Taking action, Success mindset, Routine) mastered at an early age.
- Figure out your ideal learning style and take advantage of that in class (recording seminars or classes versus taking long form notes)
- Make your resolution to do whatever you need to fully understand the material (even if it’s extra work) and not just accomplish what your teacher told you to do.
- Get projects done and study for exams early to avoid the stress. Remember, fun now equals pain later. Pain now equals fun and relaxation later.
- Set yourself a learning routine and keep it every day. Fun is fleeting, but discipline is forever.
Funny New Year’s Resolutions: funny people write down everything they think is humorous, interesting or absurd. They also are good storytellers. You can master the art of making people keel over laughing by using the following new years resolution ideas.
- Tell someone a very regular story that sounds believable. At the end tell them “You know what’s funny? I just made that whole thing up.” A believable story that ends up being false is hilarious because they bought into it.
- Start practicing funny voices and accents. The more ridiculous, the better.
- Make your resolution to not just watch, but study and take notes on how the best comedians construct their jokes.
- Every day, come up with a joke you plan on playing on someone. Then wait until the perfect moment to spring it on somebody.
- My favorite thing to do is to wait for the perfect conversation to say “Is this story gonna take very long? Cus it seems like you’re about to get into a whole thing”.
- The obvious rudeness combined with the awe, and you telling them it’s just a joke at the end is hilarious. I do this to my mother all the time.
- Make your funny new years resolution to practice brevity. Telling a long, encumbered story with a punchline ten minutes later is a no no. Skillfully give them the necessary details and let their brains fill in the rest, finally crescendoing in your gut busting punch line.
My Favorite Tools for This
“What should your New Year’s Resolution be?” Quiz
7 Days to Change your Life – The tools and process you want to radically change your life in one week.
Goal Setting 101 – Setting Effective Goals that you’ll finally follow through on
New Years Resolutions Quotes
“And yet, I believe there are multitudes of people, accustomed to receive injunctions of new year resolutions, who will sin all the month of December, with a serious determination of beginning the new year with new resolutions and new behavior, and with the full belief that they shall thus expiate and wipe away all their former faults.” – a Boston Newspaper
It’s better to find out in December that a five-mile run is a bit optimistic for your current fitness level, so you can dial it back and start with two-mile runs in January. And to make sticking to your New Year’s resolution even easier, with a few weeks of occasional warm-up jogs, you won’t be starting from scratch on Jan. 1. You’ll already have gotten over the worst of the starting period. You might even be beginning to see results. – Harry Guinness, The New York Times, 2 Dec. 2019
What are the key themes that I want to expand on and bring into focus next year, and for what desired outcomes? – Kathy Caprino per Forbes.com