The Real Reason You Can’t Keep Your New Year’s Resolution

Hint: it's not because you're lazy

Flickr/duien, Licensed under Creative Commons

Sometimes it seems like no one has anything positive to say about New Year’s resolutions.

We’re talking about something that’s meant to inspire progressive change in our lives, yet so much of the conversation seems to focus on failure; this percentage of people don’t it make past a certain amount of weeks, this percentage end up failing after only so many months.  

It almost makes you think: well then why would I even bother to set a resolution in the first place?

Of course, no one ever achieved anything great with that kind of attitude.

There’s plenty of value in setting a resolution, no matter what your goal might be. And despite what seem like slim odds, it is possible to see your resolution all the way through.

It simply depends on how you approach the challenge.

According to Dr. Tricia Leahey, Assistant Professor (Research) at Brown Medical School and the Miriam Hospital’s Weight Control and Diabetes Research Center and an advisor for, the number one reason so many people fail to see their resolutions to completion is because the goals they set are too far out of reach.

“People set lofty goals that are unachievable,” she told me over email. “As a result, [they] quickly lose motivation.”

Some examples of those “unachievable” goals include blanket statement objectives like, lose 50 pounds, quit smoking, and start exercising.

In order to be successful, Leahey says it’s important to set very specific, realistic goals that can be tracked and measured.

In terms of weight loss goals, she shared examples such as eating 1,200 calories per day, exercising five days per week, or losing one to two pounds per week.

These smaller goals can eventually help you to reach a greater outcome, such as losing 50 pounds somewhere further down the road.

When it comes to weight loss resolutions, Leahey says that success relies on more than simply setting smaller, more realistic goals.

She explained that tracking your progress, (for example, monitoring your calorie intake, logging your workouts, and weighing yourself once a week), rewarding yourself for small victories, and engaging in a supportive social network are all important parts of a successful plan.

“The more you can make weight loss fun, as opposed to a deprivation, the better,” Leahey said.

She says this is why a program like, which uses friendly competition and monetary motivation to help people lose weight, can serve as a valuable tool.

“[It] helps people set realistic goals and includes motivational strategies to help [them] stay focused,” she added. 


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