why new year’s resolutions don’t work

One year passes, only for another to take its place. Tear off the calendar page. Rekindle the burning ember as we carry the torch.

Call it cheesy and cliché all you want, but there’s something about the energy on January 1st that feels like the Spirit is finally exhaling a lungful of air. It’s a collective hope nudging us toward all the fruitful things we aspire for ourselves. Invigoration floods over you, feeling like you can conquer it all.


Far too often, that wave of motivation is fleeting. Days, weeks later, we stumble upon an introspective moment, only to realize how little we’ve accomplished. Those grand plans? Yeah, those were a flop.

I myself am very guilty of such a discouraging cycle. Even after doing all the typical goal-setting tricks of writing it down and breaking apart big goals into smaller ones…I still return to that same ol’ me. Little, if any, improvement has happened.

Why do we put ourselves through the yearly (or more) hamster wheel of good intentions but weak implementation? There must be something wrong with us, right?

I don’t think we should put all the blame on the self and the flaws we exhibit. Rather, it’s the context and application of our intentions that fall short. Before going too wild over your 2019 resolutions, let’s figure out why your past resolutions didn’t pan out.

you didn’t make the resolution attainable.

We dreamers are quick to blast off into space, dazzling ourselves with all these wonderful ideas and plans for our lives. Rarely do these things land on the ground.

You’re always going to feel defeated if you’re completely unrealistic in your resolutions. Whether it’s the time frame, the achievement, or the steps (if you made any) to reach the top, you cannot expect to climb a mountain without something to latch onto.

Give yourself grace. Realize where you’re starting, what this present moment is like. Throw out the idea of perfection. Keep your standards high but grounded, however that looks for you. If you have big aspirations, see how you can break that up into bite-size chunks, easily digestible in a week’s or a month’s time.

From there, evaluate each step of the way. Be open to changing things up if necessary. Celebrate every little victory, regardless of how small it might seem. Don’t undermine your limits as a human being.

past experiences have left you hesitant.

Much of the time, our minds are wandering away from the present. Even when we’re setting resolutions, we’re using our past experiences as the context for everything. It could end up as self-sabotage and/or self-restraint from your full potential.

Whatever has led you to this moment was necessary. Any mistakes or failures have made you stronger and wiser. However, they shouldn’t be the end-all evidence behind why you should or shouldn’t set a goal.

Take a moment for self-reflection, as is typical at the end of the year. As you’re setting intentions, think of the goals in the back of your head you might shove away because they didn’t work out before. Why didn’tthey work? Do they still matter to you? Are there any ways you can adjust to better attain that goal?

Nothing in this life is forever set in stone. You’re not defined by the person you were yesterday, this year of 2018, or any past time. This is now, and this is a moment you can spend embracing all you are and all you can be.

you’re not focused on the “why.”

I’ve done this far too often: I plan for myself feeling like it sounds good and “right.” It’s a goal that looks solid on paper, but I don’t have a reason why I wrote it down. It just seems like something I should do.

In this ultra-competitive world, we peruse around for goal-setting ideas, see what others are doing, and then feel an inner obligation to follow suit. Start comparing your goals to others and get caught up in the thrill of becoming your “best self.”

If you don’t have a really strong reason for pursuing a goal, don’t waste your time. Don’t even start. You know yourself best, and if you can’t fathom a compelling urge to chase down the resolution, leave it to others who do have a passion for that. Which leads me to…

you aren’t thinking of YOU.

Again, you know yourself best. Your personality is not going to change overnight or even in a few months. I already know I’m not about to start becoming a weekend partier or a super-buff weightlifter. Honor the qualities that make

Prove yourself wrong, by all means. That’s the beauty of existing as an ever-evolving soul on this planet. However, you still need to stay true to you. Forcing yourself into a box just to check off an item on a list defeats the purpose of goal-setting.

Based off who you are and how you’re living right now, consider some simple but effective changes you could incorporate into daily life. How can you kick that one bad habit? Can you substitute a not-so healthy option for something better?

Never—and I repeat, never—make a resolution that deprives or restricts yourself. Sustainable growth and change won’t stem from diminishing your spirit. Instead, focus on abundance and what you can add to what you’re already doing. Remember, you’re already valid and beautiful and loved as is; any resolution you make must, at its core, embrace that truth.

2018 was a long and testing year for many. As we begin 2019, let’s avoid that tired phase of exploding resolutions that quickly fizzle out. You deserve better than that.

God and the universe will inevitably twist our paths in many unexpected directions, but it’s up to each of us to stand tall, hold our heads high, and walk optimistically forward.

Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie

Author: Allie

A flower child passionate about faith, social justice, and love.

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