And how to keep it from happening this year.
Nearly half of us are making New Year's resolutions, but less than 10 percent of us are actually keeping them. Whether it's lack of motivation, lack of resources, or we just lose interest, it's time to make a fresh start and figure out ways to finish what we've started. Here are 10 reasons people don't stick to their New Year's resolutions and how to keep it from happening this year.
Reason 1: Going it Alone
Whether it's quitting smoking, improving your tennis game, or going to the gym more often, don't go it alone. "If you are someone who has a higher success rate when you have outside support, then get a buddy," says success coach Amy Applebaum. "This creates accountability, which is essential for success."
"Surround yourself with people who inspire you to be more, do more, and have more," advises The Mojo Coach Debi Silber. "If you play tennis and want to improve your game, play with people better than you who inspire you to be better." Remember, your buddy should be a positive force in your life, not a negative one. Silber recommends avoiding so-called "energy vampires," or people who drain you mentally and emotionally, even if they're willing partners.
Reason 2: Extremely Lofty Resolutions
If your goal is to solve world peace, maybe a more attainable goal is to vow you'll finally read War and Peace. "Most of us create resolutions that are too ‘big' and therefore we can't meet them," Applebaum says. "Examine your resolutions. Are they what you really want or did you commit to them because you thought you were supposed to?"
Take it day by day, says life coach Hunter Phoenix. "I've made a pact with myself to stop obsessing about the past, fantasizing about the future, and to instead embrace the present and what I can do to make a difference here and now."
Reason 3: Giving up too Easily
Whether you get discouraged or simply lose interest, giving up too easily is a big resolution breaker. "Many people make their resolutions with a genuine belief that they can accomplish them, bu come February the excitement wears off and other priorities begin to take precedence," says Andrew Schrage, founder of MoneyCrashers. "To cure this issue, try to set benchmarks throughout the year. By doing so, you can keep yourself on track throughout the year and use the power of positive reinforcement to keep your momentum going."
Reason 4: Time Management
Sometimes you realize your resolution is a bigger time commitment than you'd originally intended. Instead of trying to accomplish it all in one day, break it up into manageable increments. "I resolve to devote five minutes a day to being clutter-free and organized," says professional organizer Melinda Massie. "The easiest way to get and stay organized and clutter-free is to make it a daily habit, and everyone can spare five minutes a day."
Reason 5: Financial Burden
Many give up on their resolutions if the associated expenses are too high, Schrage says. "For example, losing weight can sometimes require an expensive gym membership. Be creative and try to find less expensive ways to complete your goals. If you're trying to lose weight, you can exercise and work out without a gym."
Reason 6: Unrealistic Resolutions
You may fantasize about your svelte new size-6 body or that six-figure job, but can you really make it happen before the year is out? "If you think you will lose 100 pounds in three months, this is not going to happen," says nutrition and fitness expert Erin Palinski. "You need to set a goal that is actually achievable in the time frame you set for yourself."
This also means being realistic with yourself and taking a hard, long look in the mirror. "Resolutions require changes in behavior, and most of us don't want to face that there is often a laundry list of changes to make," says Alabama-based clinical psychologist Josh Klapow. "So pick one you have confidence in and stick with it. It is far better to succeed at a smaller, more manageable resolution than to fail at a larger, loftier one."
Reason 7: No Plan
"The best resolutions are those that actually include a plan of action," says hypnotist Michael Ellner. Applebaum says people set themselves up for failure because they commit to a resolution, fully knowing they have no plan in place to actually achieve it.
"You need to create a plan that will help you achieve your goals," say Karena and Katrina, founders of ToneItUp.com. "Break your end goal down into smaller, weekly goals so you feel like you're working towards something immediate, and make a calendar with something to do every day that will get you closer to your desired result," they say.
Reason 8: Lack of Honesty
Are you truly committed to running a marathon, losing weight, or whatever else you are committing to do? Be honest with yourself. "Oftentimes we find ourselves committing to things because we think we should," Applebaum says. "Don't waste your time with that. You will only be disappointed in yourself. Make resolutions you actually want to achieve because you really want to and are actually going to put a plan of action towards," she says.
Reason 9: Wrong Perspective
While you may have the best intentions with your resolution, you could be putting unnecessary pressure on yourself. Put it in perspective. "Rather than associating the New Year with resolutions or changes you need to make, consider it a time for reflection on things you wish to work on throughout the year," Applebaum says. "Quit dwelling on what you have not accomplished and focus on what you will accomplish instead."
Reason 10: Not Believing in Yourself
According to Beverly Hills psychotherapist Barbara Neitlich, sometimes all you need to keep going is a pat on the back—from yourself. "Congratulate yourself for your progress. The problem is that many individuals have a very black and white attitude. They see it as either you have achieved your goal or you have failed, but there is a grey area," she says.
If your goal was to send out ten resumes a week for a new job and you only sent out five, don't beat yourself up for it. "Rather, congratulate and reward yourself for making the effort toward your goal. That will give you the energy and stamina you need to continue achieving your initial goal," Neitlich says. And kill yourself with kindness, says Silber. "With friends, we often offer kindness, praise, warmth, and positive feelings, but most people don't speak to themselves that way. Commit to offering that same kindness and compassion to yourself."