Why New Year’s Resolutions Don’t Work (And What To Do Instead)

New Year, New You – right? Believe it or not, I’m not a massive fan of this mindset. Here’s why I believe New Year’s resolutions don’t work and what you can do instead.

How many times have you said, “My diet/workout routine/meditation practice starts on January 1st,” only to find yourself completely “off-track” come February? Chances are, it’s happened to you at least a few times.

Don’t worry, you’re not the only one.

For the most part, New Year’s resolutions fail

According to a study, Business Insider reported that 80% of all resolutions set for the new year end up failing by February.

Isn’t that statistic staggering?

That means that only 20% – one in five individuals – of those who set a resolution for the new year will actually be successful in following through.

Another study shows that only 39% of people in their 20s succeed with following through on their resolutions. That means more than half of us won’t create a lasting, life-altering change.

calendar new years

Why resolutions don’t work

With the holidays comes the idea of setting resolutions. These commitments look different from person to person but, for the most part, are centered around this idea of creating drastic changes.

In the weeks leading up until our “deadline” of January 1st, we often find ourselves overindulging or not properly caring for ourselves in the name of “my diet/workout routine/whatever-it-is starts in the New Year.”

The reality is that we’re creating a lot more work for ourselves when it comes to making lasting, life-changing changes. Maybe it’s the idea of having a hard deadline that makes some feel more accountable, but I believe that change has to be slow and gradual to really stick.

Also, when/if you fall off track with your new resolutions, it’s easy to feel like a failure and give up altogether. Instead, it’s more sustainable to commit to making a change regardless of the time of year and gradually incorporate it into your life.

A new way of approaching resolutions

Focus on intentions rather than resolutions

Instead of making strict resolutions, I invite you to create intentions around the new year ahead.

These intentions will be helpful when it comes to deciding how you’d like your year to look and feel, where you want to put your time and energy, and, most importantly, what will bring you the most joy.

Some example intentions include:

  • Learning to say No with love.
  • Dedicating more time to my passions.
  • Choosing kindness and joy over stress and overwhelm.

If intentions are not your thing, try picking one or two words that sum up how you’d like to feel. These words can be constant reminders of the energy you’d like to bring into the new year.

You can write your words in places you’ll see them and continue to channel the spirit of them for days to come.

woman holding a star new years

Create a vision board

Another great idea is to create a vision board of your goals, dreams, and wishes for the upcoming year. This practice will allow you to get in touch with how you want your year to look and give you a chance to visualize each moment.

There’s something so powerful about creating a vision board because it allows you to truly see what’s to come.

Use a guided workbook (or two!)

If you need a little more support, I’m a big believer in The Desire Map by Danielle LaPorte. This workbook will guide you through the steps to create the year you’re truly seeking, all while stay centered on what’s realistic and important to you.

My most recent book, The Holistic Self-Care Guided Journal, is a great way to get in touch with your inner thoughts and desires. This journal guides you through prompts and exercises perfect for preparing for another trip around the sun.

Final thoughts on heading into a new year

Above all, no matter which path you choose, make sure to give yourself the time to really connect with what you desire from the upcoming year.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • What are my passions?
  • What brings me joy?
  • What do I want more of in life?
  • What am I ready to leave behind?

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