Why New Year’s Resolutions Fail (Part 1 of 3)

Written by Adam Whitlach
WRRFC Head Trainer

According to U.S. News and World Report, as many as 80% of New Year's resolutions fail by February. There are a wide variety of explanations for such a high failure rate. In this series, we’re going to explore some of them. Reasons for failure can be broken up into three primary categories: Social, Educational, and Motivational.

Starting with the first example, let's take a look at why social issues might limit our success with New Year’s resolutions.

Many people struggling to embark on new goals lack a couple of important social factors—the first being a strong support system. We all enjoy knowing things will be okay if we fail, which is why our support systems are made up of friends and family who are in our corner regardless of what happens. But what do we do if these ties are not dependable—or altogether nonexistent? Fortunately, this still doesn’t mean we are alone. With the full power of social media, it’s possible to find an online support system; there has never been a better time to connect with like-minded people. To be painfully clear, I am NOT advocating for us to bare our souls to total strangers. However, simply posting a picture of our scale and making a declaration that this number will be lower in the coming weeks can spark some inquiries from the public. This feedback may be just the thing we need to stay on track. Knowing that there are people out there invested in our progress, at least in some capacity, can be immensely beneficial.

On the other hand, a different social factor that tends to limit and restrict goal setting is a lack of confidence, or the feeling or belief that we can rely on someone or something. In this case, we are referring to ourselves. If we always had a strong enough belief in ourselves, we would not need to depend on anyone else to reach our goals. Building yourself should mean depending on you and only you.

If I had to describe what I do for a living, it wouldn’t have as much to do with training or exercises as you might think. Instead, the majority of my day is spent addressing the missing potential in folks I work with. Most people don’t work as hard as they could, and I attribute this largely to a general lack of confidence. As we get closer and closer to our work capacity, the body starts to fatigue and feel uncomfortable, which is when most people stop. We often don’t believe we can push further, or we think we’ll get hurt if we try. But one way or another, we must push beyond our previous work ethic. Otherwise, we will simply stay where we are.

In Part 2 of this series, we’ll take a deep dive into another common limitation to health and fitness goals: education. We'll discuss how to arm ourselves with the appropriate information to be effective in our endeavors and beyond.

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