Your New Year’s Resolutions will Fail

Yes, I know, there are a billion-and-one blogs being pushed through the planet’s servers today. I’ll keep mine to the point. I just wanted to let you know that all of your New Year’s resolutions won’t happen, they will likely fail before you even begin. Sorry about that. Don’t shoot me down just yet, I think I may be able to provide a solution.

At this time of the year many people develop ambitions to change aspects of their lives for the better. Christmas provides a break from the day-to-day routines for long enough to allow some time for contemplation of where we’re at in our lives. Good-on those people who figure out what they truly want from the year ahead and enlist the help of family and friends to achieve their aims. I raise my glass, take my hat off, and wish them all the best. However, I’m always skeptical of the whole New Year’s Resolutions thing. I’ve never stuck to any of the few resolutions I’ve ever made, so I simply don’t bother making any. Perhaps I’m a weak-willed procrastinator? Or, maybe I’m really just a realist? A decision made in the early-hours of the morning when you’ve quaffed at least one bottle of Cava is most likely not going to be one of your smartest, is it?

Sure, it’s easy to proudly proclaim to everyone that you’re intending to save more money, join a gym, run a marathon, climb Kilimanjaro for charity, take those cookery lessons, or go on that wine-tasting course in the Cotswolds you’ve been yacking on about for years. But you won’t. You might make inroads to finding out more, you might even make a start on the goal itself – but then you’ll sober-up, get distracted by the return to work, or maybe that shocking December credit card statement will put a freeze on some of your immediate plans. Oh well, shunt the mountaineering expedition onto next year’s resolutions list.

However, there’s a more likely reason your resolutions will fizzle out – and it doesn’t lie in poor willpower or a lack of time or resources. Research from the 1920s onwards shows that people who talk about their ambitions may be less likely to achieve them. The reasoning behind this is quite simple. We love to get positive attention, a pat on the back for doing something good. It turns out that loudly (drunkenly) telling everyone about your grand intentions for the New Year, and their resulting approval and congratulations, will provide you with a cheerful feeling of accomplishment – actually, a very similar feeling to that of completing the task itself. You’ll feel you are halfway to your goal already, in fact you can probably bask in the warm reception of your plan for self-improvement long enough for the motivation for action to have dwindled. You’ve gauged opinion, you’ve been flattered, and now you can get back to the daily-grind with a smug feeling that everyone knows about the cool plan up your sleeve. Then you’ll forget about it.

So, there you have it. Don’t tell anyone about your resolutions, be cool, cards to your chest, act on your goals in secret and at the last-minute pull it out of the bag, fait accompli. Then, bask in the real glory – being the one who has actually achieved their resolutions!


4 responses to “Your New Year’s Resolutions will Fail

  1. Funnily enough, negative reinforcement seems to be the key to why people make bold claims and boast. The bias of someone telling you “you’ll never do it” becomes their driving force to succeed, and also their excuse why they fail.

    The desire to better ourselves is a key attribute to human evolution, and a fantastic element at that. The ability to accept who we are, and love it, is even more powerful a fortifying agent. Unfortunatly one that gets lost in messages of change this time of year.

    Individuals should be free to boast, bask, and boost themselves, and society should be free to support when success is both fleeting and in abundance.

    Positive affirmation is both internal and external, and blame cannot lie solely with the individual. However we are lost without hope, it ’tis the season afternall, and people should know…

    “What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us. And when we bring what is within us out into the world, miracles happen.”

    You can achieve your resolutions!


    • Good points James, I guess it also makes a difference whether a person’s friends merely voice their support, or actually do something practical to help. Setting out to make a great idea become reality only to have everyone surprisingly become too busy to help out is rather disheartening. Maybe the decision about keeping quiet or making public says a lot about one’s relationships?

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