Why New Year’s Resolutions Don’t Stick

Plus, tips to hit your goals in 2022
Published December 17, 2021

tell ourselves we’re going to set out to achieve. We’re fuelled by the promise of a new year, a new beginning, and the collective energy of so many people setting goals at once.

So why, then, do about 80 percent of new year’s resolutions get abandoned every February?

“Making a resolution is like making a wish; without a plan of action to make it come to fruition, your resolution is simply wishful thinking,” says Joyce Marter, licensed psychotherapist and author of The Financial Mindset Fix: A Mental Fitness Program for an Abundant Life.

“Lasting behavioural change requires modifying the ways we think and behave and creating systems for ongoing reinforcement, accountability, and support,” she says. “It also requires a recommitment to that change every day – and every hour of the day.”

Marter explains that lasting change also requires resilience – what she calls “the ability to bounce back from setbacks and recommit to the process.”

“Lasting change is a practice – just like meditation, yoga or therapy is a practice. By adopting a growth mindset, we focus on positive development and reframe setbacks, challenges or errors as opportunities for learning and growth.”

Marter explains it’s important to have a plan for bouncing back and recommitting to your goals “because we are human, we aren’t perfect and are going to make mistakes.”

How to set reasonable new year’s resolutions

What often makes goals hard or even impossible to achieve is making them too lofty or undefined. The more specific, realistic, and manageable we make our goals, the easier they will be to achieve.

Marter suggests developing an action plan to get you started.

“Developing an action plan for your health, professional, and financial vision can seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be complicated or time-consuming, in fact, it’s best to keep it simple,” she says.

Just follow her instructions:

  • In a journal, write three goals for the next year and then rank them in order of importance.
  • Make sure they are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely (SMART) goals. For example, “Lose 10 pounds” versus “Look like J-Lo.”
  • Break goals down into smaller objectives or tasks such as exercising three times a week or making sure to drink enough water every day.
  • Share your goals with an accountability partner (coach, therapist or trusted friend or confidant who supports you in achieving your goals) and scheduling regular follow-ups to keep you on track.

Tips for making your resolutions stick

Marter has two main tactics for making new year’s resolutions stick:

Live with intention

“An intention is a way of being or living, stated in the present, that supports the likelihood of your goals coming to fruition,” says Marter. She suggests the following strategies to actively live with intention:

  • Journal: Marter recommends writing three to five short and positive intentions that support you in achieving your goals.
  • Review/Recite: Considering reviewing or reciting your intentions before your daily morning or nighttime meditations, Marter says. “The more you repeat them, the more likely they are to come true.”
  • Make it daily: Create daily practices to support your intentions, whether that’s yoga, breathing or something else entirely unique to you that supports the goals you’ve set for yourself.

Visualize success

“Visualizing a positive outcome has long been utilized in sports psychology – if you can envision yourself making the goal, the more likely you will,” says Marter. “Many neuroscientists have found that visualization helps the body respond better in pursuit of desired outcomes, including health and financial goals.”

Give it a try: “With your eyes closed, pretend you already achieved your life’s vision. Envision your greatest life filled with prosperity, love, health, support, success, and anything you desire. This includes your personal and professional life. How does it feel to achieve your vision?”