Friday Five: The 5 Brutally Honest Reasons People Fail at their Resolutions (And How to Ensure Success!)

Hello! Happy Friday!

How’s the year going?

Last week, I shared my goals and hopes for 2017, and I bet you have some things planned, too! We are about a week into the year and it’s a good time to pause and evaluate where we stand with them. And, I know, I know…Resolutions, goals, commitments, whatever you want to call them, they get kind of a bad rap. But, in my humble opinion, it’s not really their fault. It’s ours. (Maybe I should write a bestseller called The Fault in Our Goals…)

What I mean by this is that it’s not the goal’s fault if it isn’t fulfilled, it’s the goal setter’s. Often times, when establishing our resolutions, we get it all wrong and that causes them to fall through. When they do fall through, people call the resolution stupid or pointless. I gotta be honest, I kinda think of this as a cop out. If you are without goals or ideas about self- improvement,you have no intention of setting a resolution, or if you don’t view the New Year as a time to necessarily do so, more power to you. But because they don’t work out or they’re meaningless? I call cop out.

For those of us that do set resolutions, we all go into them with the best of intentions, but there are certain things we do that set us up for failure. I’m all about balance, self-love, and not being over the top hard on yourself. But I also think a little pressure to follow through is healthy…come on, how else is lasting change made in any area of our life? So get ready – success can be yours with the right attitude and behaviors!

People fail at their resolutions because…


1. They believe they will

PROBLEM: The old saying is true…whether you think you can or you think you can’t…you’re right. If you set a goal but your heart isn’t backing you up or you don’t truly believe you can accomplish it…you won’t. One of the biggest roadblocks I’ve seen perfectly capable people come across on the path to achieving their goals is having a negative attitude toward themselves and their abilities.

SOLUTION: Come up with positive mantras to support yourself. Tell yourself over and over that you CAN do it, you HAVE what it takes, and it WILL happen. Substitute these thoughts and your mantras when you feel an ounce of negativity creep in. Feed your mind positive thoughts and you’re far more likely to reap positive results.


2. They don’t know how to set goals properly

PROBLEM: You jump to a lofty goal, skipping all of the mile-marker goals in between where you are and where you want to be.

SOLUTION: Set your sights on a behavior or habit change, rather than your desired result. For instance, want to lose 20 pounds? Make your goal to work out three times per week, cut back to one soda a week, and eat dessert only two times per week. You’ll find that these goals will lead you to your ultimate goal, and are things that you can actively do, track, measure, and improve upon. This is the guiding principle behind SMART goals.


3. They underestimate the work involved

PROBLEM: In the rush of New Year’s inspiration and motivation, you believe you can do anything! You got this! You want this so bad! Then real life kicks in and you realize that wait…this isn’t going to be easy! That’s when things start to fall apart and why I wrote about why motivation is so overrated. Once you see how much will power, dedication, and change your goal involves, you drop it.

SOLUTION: Do your research. Know what you’re getting yourself into. Tell others about your goal to hold yourself accountable. Find a way to stay motivated like a reward system or progress calendar.


4. They aren’t prepared

PROBLEM: Seeing a goal through takes a lot of planning and preparation. Let’s say you’ve decided to eliminate sugar but you don’t bring healthy snacks with you to work or on the road. Or, you’re planning on working out more often or more intensely, but don’t have a workout program to follow. You might have all the best intentions and all the drive, but if you don’t prepare yourself every day to meet your goals, it doesn’t matter.

SOLUTION: Dummy proof your goal. Yup, that’s right. Take time on Sundays to prep healthy meals and snacks for the week. Keep an extra set of gym clothes and sneakers in your car. Have a print out of workouts you can do anywhere anytime if you find yourself without access to a gym or if your schedule changes. Email yourself your workout schedule for the week. Ask the waiter not to bring bread, or ask for a box to pack up some of your meal right away. Think two steps ahead of your own self!


5. They don’t set the right goals for them

PROBLEM: You set goals you think you should based on outside factors rather than goals that actually make sense for you. For example, if I set a goal to try the Paleo diet for 3o days, I’d totally bomb it because it just isn’t aligned with my lifestyle and preferences. Sure, it may have some benefits, but I rely on oats and peanut butter for fuel and satisfaction every day and limit the amount of meat I eat.. Of course you should go out of your comfort zone, and change isn’t easy, but there’s a difference between doing something tough because you know it’s good for you and just…doing something tough.

SOLUTION: Trust your gut and really listen to your heart. Set goals based on your interests, your fitness level, your own body and health needs. If you’re just doing something because your friend is doing it, a celeb is doing it, or because it’s the latest trend, you’re not doing it for the right reasons. Ask yourself what’s really important to you (and other questions like these) and set yourself up for success by setting your sights on something meaningful and true to you.


It’s helpful to know what the potential problems are so that we can be aware of them and can be prepared to deal with them when they show up. With that, we can focus on the solutions in order to make our resolutions come to be!

I don’t mean to be harsh here, I’ve just always believed that an ugly truth is far more useful than a pretty lie, so I’m telling it like it is!

We all have the power to see our goals through and do what it takes – part of that is understanding where we might get stuck! Is every day going to be spot on? No. Should you beat yourself up over a bad day or week? No way! It’s a process. Keep moving forward and you’ll reach your goal.

Cheers to making things happen and enjoying the process!

Wicked Healthy Wonderings: What’s your take on resolutions? Do you agree or disagree with me?

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    • Susie @ SuzLyfe
    • May 24, 2020

    A) Yes you should write that best seller. FOR CERTAIN.
    B) Couldn’t agree with you more. Setting the right goal for you means putting it in a language that means something to you. If your goal is to be more healthy, it shouldn’t be to drop a certain number of pounds–that can be done in a week (depending). Start with running once a week and eating breakfast and no snacks after dinner or not at meal or snack times every day. Soon, you will notice a difference!

    • Lauren @ The Bikini Experiment
    • May 25, 2020

    I totally agree with all of these – people are in such a rush that they do not build up habits they can sustain. Rather than diving into “Paleo” if you are not ready maybe cutting out processed foods is a logical next step so it’s not overwhelming. Great tips Ruthie! Enjoy the weekend.

    • Coco (@Got2Run4Me)
    • May 25, 2020

    This is really good insight! I think a lot of people start the new year with weight loss or exercise goals because it’s the thing to do, but it’s not something they are really interested in working for.

    • Annmarie
    • May 31, 2020

    Yes, yes and yes to all of this! You absolutely hit the nail on the head! I believe 100% that believing you can is part of the obstacle- I was actually having this conversation with someone last night. Doubt kills dream (or rather goals). Thank you so much for writing this out- can’t wait to share 🙂

    • Jess @hellotofit
    • May 31, 2020

    You speak the truth, girlfriend! A plan for success helps out so much!! Among the other solutions you listed 🙂

    • Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table
    • May 31, 2020

    All great observations, but I think #1 is HUGE. The battle is 98% mental and if you start out thinking you’re going to fail you will fail every time.

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