New Year’s Resolutions: Why Don’t We Stick To Them?

With just another year just around the corner, this is the time that we all sit back and think: What are my New Year’s Resolutions for 2012 going to be?  It’s a new year, a chance to start a fresh.


The sad truth of the matter is that 2012 will be another year of failed New Year’s Resolutions.  We want them to continue throughout the year, but for some reason we can never seem to make them stick.  Research has shown that by six months less than half of us will have stuck to our original plan, and by this time rolls around again, less than 10% will have actually stuck to their resolutions.

Opinion Corporation of Princeton, NJ found the following statistics:

  • 45% of Americans usually set New Year’s Resolutions; 17% infrequently set resolutions; 38% never set resolutions.
  • Only 8% of people are always successful in achieving their resolutions. 19% achieve their resolutions every other year.  49% have infrequent success.  24% (one in four people) NEVER succeed and have failed on every resolution every year. That means that 3 out of 4 people almost never succeed.
  • Of those who do set resolutions (these add to more than 100% because some people set multiple resolutions):
    • 34% set resolutions related to money
    • 38% set resolutions related to weight
    • 47% set resolutions related to self-improvement or education
    • 31% set resolutions related to relationships
  • It appears that the younger you are, the more likely you are to achieve your resolutions
    • 39% of those in their twenties achieve their resolutions every year or every other year
    • Less than 15% of those over 50 achieve their resolutions every year or every other year
  • The less happy you are, the more likely you are to set New Year’s Resolutions.  This is especially true for those who set money-related resolutions: 41% are not happy, 34% are moderately happy, and 25% are happy.
  • And here’s the punchline – There is no correlation between happiness and resolution setting/success.  People who achieve their resolutions every year are NO happier than those who do not set resolutions or who are unsuccessful in achieving them.

According to the research conducted by Oxfam, 73% of British adults stated an intention to make a New Year’s Resolution for 2011, and that many are keen to get in shape, and those of making resolutions in 2011, 50% want to try and lose weight, while 43% want to get fitter.  This means that for 2011, more than 17 million people are resolving to lose weight whilst almost 15 million people have a resolution to get fitter.


The most common of resolutions are as follows (not in any particular order):

  • Lose Weight
  • Manage Debt or Save Money
  • Get a Better Job
  • Get Fit
  • Eat Right
  • Get a Better Eduction
  • Drink Less Alcohol
  • Quit Smoking
  • Reduce Stress Overall and/or at Work
  • Travel More
  • Volunteer More

With those kinds of statistics, it makes you wonder is it really worth the effort of thinking about setting New Year’s Resolutions?

Setting New Year’s Resolutions are all about setting specific goals, realistic ones, ones that will make a significant change to our lives.  Without change we run the risk of staying just the way we are and doing things just the way we always have.

Why do we have such a hard time making significant changes in our lives?

Change is difficult to do.  Don’t listen to the ‘quick and without effort’ claims of motivational speakers and self-help books.  Attempting to make a significant change in our lives takes time and there will be a lot of obstacles in the way of that change.  Change can even take many years of taking one day at a time.

Many of us don’t like to make the effort to change because of the fear of failure.  We feel it is not possible to change at a certain age… we hear all of the time – “I’m too old to change the way I do things now…” We have brought to our adult lives from childhood habits – the way we think, experience emotions, and behavior, and it is these habits that we see as our obstacles, from stopping us making these changes.

The way we manage these habits, the people we surround ourselves with and the things we do on a day-to-day basis give us a sense of security that we do not want to give up, despite the over-whelming desire to change.

Some would say I am lucky, I don’t have to set myself significant life changing New Year’s Resolutions because I don’t smoke, drink (all that much), or lose weight (I would argue on that one).  There is things in my life I would like to change and change for the better.  A few years ago I promised myself I would not set New Year’s Resolutions, for the simple fact, that I am in that bad end of the statistic, I don’t stick to them.

Sure I don’t smoke, but I do envy those people who do and have the will-power to quit and stick to it.  I am not going to name names, but I have known a person for a number of years, who has said every year for each year I have known this person that they are going to quit smoking, and they last a few months, but guess what… they start up again… and the whole cycle starts all over again.

I also dream of getting fitter, meeting that special someone, be able to eat better, get a better job, travel more, and eliminate my debt like all of you.

For the past few years I believe the best thing for me has been to select a new skill that I don’t have and make the concerned effort to study that skill until I become reasonably good at it.

  • 2011 was the year of becoming a qualified diver, I have now got my certification of an Open Water Diver, and working towards my Advanced Course.
  • 2010 was the year of learning to surf… alright that didn’t go well, I started too late in the year and stopped because it got too cold, but I will pick this up again.

These a just a couple of examples of skills I picked.  I try to pick skills that require some form of direction or education, which means paying someone whom is qualified to teach that skill, which means that once you have paid for the course, you are committed to learning that skill.

This way I have a hard time walking away from something that I have invested both time and money into, meaning that I stick to it and gain a new skill and knowledge.

Some of the things on my list of skills I would like to try out:

  • Learn to Fly a Plane and get my License.
  • Learn to Ride a Motorbike and get my License.
  • Learn Objective-C and Write an iOS Application.
  • Learn to Cook (properly).
  • Learn to Play the Piano.

So I bet you are wondering what skill I am going to pick for 2012…

…Well to be honest I haven’t thought of one yet, but I do know it will be the year of continued improvement of my diving certification, I will be looking at picking up my surfing again.  It is most likely that I will be selecting to learn Objective-C and Write that iOS Application idea that I have been sitting on for a number of years.

I am going to leave it there, and hope you have enjoyed reading my thoughts on New Year’s Resolution, and even if you decide that setting New Year’s Resolutions is for you, the I sincerely hope that you stick to them.  I would love to hear your thoughts on this article and what your resolutions are going to be for 2012.

I would also like to wish you all the best for 2012, and hope all your dreams and aspirations come true.