Psychology of New Year’s Resolutions: Why You Are Not Achieving Your Goals

Want to lose weight? Eat right? Stop smoking? Be a better manager, employee, or friend? These common New Year’s resolutions are admirable, so why does data from the University of Scranton show us that only 8% of people actually manage to keep January 1st commitments? Do they know something you don’t about how to keep New Year’s resolutions?

The Problem with New Year’s Resolutions

New Year’s resolutions themselves are a big part of the issue when it comes to success. According to Harvard Business Review’s Peter Bregman, most people make resolutions that are life-changing. This means goals are often about serious personal change, take a lot of time, and may require significant planning or investment of money. That being said, when people don’t see the change soon enough, or suffer setbacks, the failure can impact them on a deep level.

Basically, many New Year’s resolutions are too ambitious.

“And the hard part about that is that if we fail at achieving that (our resolution), it really hits us at a deep level, the level of our identity. And so we fear not being good enough, and so we’d rather not start at all,” says Bregman. “Of course it’s counterproductive, right? Because if you never start, you’ve already failed. Everybody knows that. And yet still, it’s hard, because our fear of failing is that hit at such a deep level of who we are that we’d rather not start in this case.”

Keep reading: Page 1 of 4