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New year 2023 concept. Professional achievements in the new year and success, close up

Top 5 reasons that New Year’s Resolutions fail and how to ensure yours succeed



New Year Resolutions are the biggest and most consistent failures in the history of humankind.  By Thursday January the 19th2023 more than 95% of the global population will have given up on trying to improve their ways.

They reasons we fail to fulfil our New Year resolutions are exactly the same reasons that we consistently fail to deliver transformative change in business.  The top five are as follows:

  1. Our goal is too vague and easily forgotten
  2. We don’t break the big goal down into small achievable everyday actions which we need to take to get there. Therefore, we are easily daunted and distracted
  3. We don’t measure and track our success
  4. We make it too ambitious and therefore when we don’t move from good to great in three weeks, we become disheartened and give up
  5. We don’t stay accountable.  So, when we start to lose focus and become distracted there isn’t anyone there to hold our feet to the fire

In order to make our New Year’s resolutions last, we need to turn each one of these on its head. The same applies to transforming our fortunes in business and maximising the performance of our people.

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  1. Be crystal clear on your goal.  One goal is best.  Make the goal very specific – like a SMART objective. Make sure your colleagues, friends and family know what it is.  Peer pressure helps you to stick to the task.  Make sure the goal is written in places where you will be consistently reminded of it – the fridge door, the bathroom mirror, your digital devices. 
  2. Break the big goals down into everyday actions. The most important thing is to create simple, small steps, act small and often. Big goals are daunting.  If we focus on the small steps, we make them achievable and relevant. We also begin to avoid the biggest enemy of progress – distraction.  If we can identify these everyday actions and embed new habits, we start to create something powerful. It is the compound effect of consistency that adds up to a big change.
  3. Track and measure your progress. As the famous old saying goes, if we don’t measure it, we can’t manage it.  We need clear visibility of how we are getting on. Imagine playing tennis, or golf or football and not keeping the score.  Yet that’s what most people do with their New Year resolutions. You need to keep the score. If your aim is weight loss arrange a regular weigh-in with others.  If it’s a fitness resolution, test yourself each week to see how you’re advancing.  Use a fitness app to keep the score.
  4. Aim for progress not perfection.  You just need to get momentum and gradually move the dial.  Too often the reason we fail is that we expect too much too soon and become disheartened.
  5. Be accountable for delivering.  The biggest reason that New Year’s resolutions fail is that we don’t make ourselves accountable for delivering them.  Rather than just making a resolution on your own, team up with others who want to achieve the same thing.  This helps encourage you and keeps you committed.  It means there is someone to get us out on a wet night and someone to coach us when we inevitably get tempted by distraction.  Trying to achieve alone is a recipe for failure.

There is one other thing to keep in mind. Be kind and recognise the greatness in you. Celebrate your wins.  Celebration makes everyone happy.  It releases warm chemicals in our brains which not only encourage us to want to do more but also are at the heart of motivation, satisfaction, and engagement. The more you celebrate, the more likely you are to keep on winning.

Change in business requires a special kind of thinking.  Breaking down your goal into everyday actions is the key to unlocking the doors to success. 


Jeremy Campbell is the CEO of performance improvement and technology business, Black Isle Group and an executive coach and expert on behavioural change.


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