Science Says This Is Why No One Ever Keeps Their New Year’s Resolutions

The story goes like this: It’s New Year’s Eve, and everyone asks you “what’s your resolution?” You’ve been thinking about it for a while, so you’re confident that this new year will really bring a new you. You enthusiastically throw out your best intentions, like “being more present!” and “staying off my phone!” or “going to the gym!” or even something simple like reading more books. The next couple weeks you dabble in your resolution. Maybe you hit the gym a couple times, bought a few books to read, went a day or two without your phone, and slowly but surely you’re back to another NYE party making the same resolution for the nth year in a row.

For some, these resolutions are great ways to set goals for your future and succeed in growing every year. However, studies (like this one right here) show that only 9.2% of people who make a resolution are actually successful in achieving their goals.

I don’t mean to sound discouraging, resolutions are great ways to analyze the changes you need to make for a happier and healthier life, but it’s obvious that there’s something wrong in the way we set these goals.

Researchers have observed several flaws in our methods, but it all boils down to a rather simple thing. We aren’t realistic with ourselves.

Our goals are too large, and it’s much easier to be discouraged if you’re not seeing any success along the way. The first step to achieving our new year’s resolutions is to set smaller, more achievable goals, and continue to set new ones when the previous has been achieved.

Once you have the confidence in yourself to achieve these goals, they’ll look less hard and you’ll have more motivation to keep going.

According to behavior psychologist Paul Marciano, we have a bad habit of developing an “all or nothing” mindset that discourages progress and demands instant gratification. This leads to making excuses to prolong failure, and that’s no bueno. Any effort is positive, and remembering that is the key to achieving a goal, no matter what size.

As you measure your own progress, look for a little positive reinforcement. Marciano’s advice also suggests that sharing success with family and friends helps to boost confidence and motivation. Everyone loves to be praised, and the more praise you get, the more you’ll want. (But don’t be a d*ck about it, okay?)

We hype up the final results in our heads so highly and forget that everything takes time and patience. Celebrate the little victories as you go, and remember…