It’s Not (Entirely) Your Fault—Why New Year’s Resolutions Always Fail
Despite your best intentions at the beginning of the year to stop a habit, like smoking weed, you find yourself back to your old ways by February 1st (heck, maybe by January 10th). Why is it so difficult to stick to New Year's resolutions, and why do they always fail?
Most people blame themselves for failing to stick with their resolutions, but I wouldn't be so quick to blame yourself but rather the design of resolutions. You were doomed from the beginning.
It doesn't matter if the resolution is covered with good intentions, like giving up an addiction. It all boils down to staying motivated, being realistic with yourself and your situation- to truly achieve your goals. But unfortunately, New Year's resolutions are not set up for success.
This article breaks down why resolutions fail and what you should focus on instead if you are really serious about dropping old habits.
New Year's Resolutions- Why Do They Fail?
The top five reasons why the beginning of the year resolutions fail:
To help further explain why resolutions don't work, I am going to use a common resolution statement:
"I want to stop smoking weed this year."
If it's your first time reading our blog, you should know that addiction to weed is an issue I have experienced and what people in our TikTok and Discord community talk about. If an addiction to weed is not your goal, replace it with your personal goal.
I promise you, whatever the resolution you claimed to take on this year, it was disguised in failure. And I'm here to point out the flaws no matter the resolution. Let's start with the intention.
New Year's Resolutions- Where's the Why?
The biggest flaw about a New Year's resolution? There's no mention of your why. Just declaring "I want to stop smoking weed" is not enough. It's like saying I want to be rich.
We all know that to be rich takes hard work and determination, so without adding why you are willing to work hard, the sentence sounds unbelievable and more like a pipe dream. Adding a reason or why you want to pursue the goal adds intention to the sentence, not just a collection of meaningless words.
So, take a moment to sit quietly with your thoughts to get clarity on why you want to make this change in your life.
Here are some prompts to help you get closer to your why:
I want to (insert your change) because I no longer…
I want to (insert your change) because I can't remember when…
I want to (insert your change) because I am losing…
I want to (insert your change) because I am tired of…
Adding a reason why you want to quit or start a new habit will be your source of motivation.
The Focus is on the Loss, Not the Gain
If you take a moment to think about a New Year's resolution, you will notice its focus is only on the loss—there is no mention of gain.
"I want to stop smoking weed by the end of this year."
Focusing only on loss without saying what you will gain sounds like a set-up for failure. Just the thought of stopping a habit that you may be depending on could trigger an immediate emotion of regret or hopelessness. A slippery slope that could send you back to your old ways, so you can feel "whole" again.
As humans, we are motivated to take action with the possibility of an award or valuable gain. It's a method of motivation we were taught as children and stayed with us as adults.
Do your chores, and you will be rewarded.
Work hard, and you will be compensated or promoted.
So, to change old habits, the focus should not be on the loss but rather the value we gain in return. Start the sentence with the value you gain in your life if you remove what is taking away from it.
Is a Year Too Long or Not Long Enough?
When people make a resolution, it's usually sparked by the incoming new year, giving you twelve whole months to work on your resolution. There's no thought or strategy to believe if a year is enough time to claim victory over an old habit or addiction. Or take into consideration if the time to complete this goal is too far off in the distance, creating opportunities for endless excuses to push off a start date.
A new year's resolution creates this arbitrary start and completion time frame. Another design failure of why this approach doesn't work.
Structure the timeline based on your personal history of achieving a goal. A year may allow too much time for you to complete. Set a timeframe that creates urgency for results.
And also, factor in how long this habit has been a part of your life. You may need more time to completely drop the habit altogether. It will not be a failure if it takes longer than a year to shift your mindset and lifestyle away from a habit that has been a part of you for so long.
Be a Realistic Quitter
Let's be honest. Only you know what motivates you to do your best or what could trigger you to give in and quit.
It may take you to go completely "cold turkey," in which you get rid of everything in your home or personal space that could trigger you to go back to old habits. And force yourself to stop, whatever the withdrawals or challenges. You do best when you cut the habit out of your life.
And for others, an "all or nothing" approach may cause panic and feeling overwhelmed, leading back to old habits. Then perhaps, the most effective strategy is to gradually remove weed from your life in stages.
But unfortunately, resolutions don't factor in how you will make the change. It just states that you will quit but not how you will.
So, as soon as you commit to making a change, be realistic about how it will take shape in your everyday life.
With any goal or even resolution, it will never be a success without including people to help support you through this change. Sharing your goals with another person makes you responsible for upholding the integrity of your words and actions. And by telling someone else also invites them to give you support, both emotional and psychological.
The key to establishing a partnership of accountability is to make sure to select a person who is willing to take on this role of responsibility and utterly supportive of your decision. It's probably best not to ask a person to be your accountability partner if they are smoking regularly.
Looking to surround yourself inside a community committed to making better choices and improving their lives? Check out the "Better Yourself" community on Discord.
Final Takeaway: New Year's Resolutions Fail, Not You
You hold the key to your own success of quitting a habit. So, when coming up with a commitment to make positive changes in your life, no arbitrary year-end date or a string of words lacking intent or missing your why should ever where you start.
Be honest and realistic with how you set yourself up to take on this commitment of change. Identify your why, focus on the value gained, remember how you achieved success in the past, and invite someone to support you during this time.