10 Worst Ways to Start with Your New Year’s Resolutions

10 Worst Ways to Start with Your New Year’s Resolutions

It is said that the New Year is a fresh start, an unwritten book of 365 pages, waiting to see what stories you will fill it with. For many people, the symbolism of a new beginning represents a long journey to becoming a better version of themselves, which they chose to become when they set their New Year’s resolutions. However, thanks to your resolutions, you will not lose weight overnight, you will not start exercising regularly, nor will you learn Spanish, even if it is your lifelong dream. You need to do smaller steps to meet your goals. Also, remember that a bad beginning makes a bad ending. So, let’s talk about common mistakes when setting your New Year’s resolutions and find out how to finally manage it without any stress this year.

What New Year’s resolutions are the most common and how many are unsuccessful?

Most often, people set resolutions associated with improving physical health. According to the statistics of the most popular resolutions, people want to exercise more, lose weight, eat healthier, save more money or learn a new skill. “At the end of the second week of February, about 80% of resolutions end in failure, disappointment and remorse,” says Joseph Luciany, world-renowned psychologist and author of a series of publications. [1–4]

According to a study by scientists from Scranton, Pennsylvania, after six months, about 46% of people are able to still keep their resolutions. The question is whether they have managed to turn their six-month progress into a lifelong success. Whatever the final numbers, it is clear that most people will not be able to fulfill their resolutions. [4]

You probably don’t want to end up in the camp of an unsuccessful majority, but you want to change something in your life, achieve your goals and follow your dreams. But let’s face it, there’s nothing magical about the first day of January. You will realize this very well when you open your eyes in the morning after the New Year’s Eve celebrations and realize that it is a completely regular day. Maybe your head hurts more and your stomach doesn’t feel well, which is definitely caused by only a “couple” of glasses of champagne. Life is changing all the time, and maybe you are dealing with so many things right now that a commitment in the form of New Year’s resolution would be just beyond your power.

But the truth is, if you don’t change anything, nothing will change. Perhaps thanks to the approaching New Year, social networks are full of hashtags like #NewYearNewMe, where people share their path to a happy ending. However, if you want to achieve something, why not start now and stop waiting for the new year, next month or Monday? One research suggests that people generally like to start something new in terms of opportunities that lead to contemplating their own life and self-reflection. Perhaps thanks to the recapitulation of the past year and the evaluation of what you have succeeded and failed, the coming year may be a fresh start for you. [5]

What New Year's resolutions are the most common and how many are unsuccessful?

10 worst ways to start with New Year’s resolutions

Take a New Year’s step with the right foot and tilt the scales of success to your side using a few simple principles. Thanks to this, your life can be much easier and you will be more successful.

1. Trying to meet the same resolutions as the last few years

Once upon a time someone said that “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” And the same goes for resolutions. If you have been trying to lose weight, eat healthier, start exercising or whatever else for 10 years, why do you think it will be different this time and that you’ll make it? “Every time you fail, you damage your self-esteem. One thing we observe is that when people fail to lose weight, they don’t blame their diet, but themselves, which makes each start even harder,” said Janet Polivy, psychologist from the University of Toronto in Mississauga, Canada. [6]

Repeated failure will affect your self-esteem and self-worth, and you may get the impression that you are not good or successful enough. Maybe you even know someone who has been making the same resolutions for several years, and everyone knows in advance that they won’t make it once again. But you are good enough, and you can keep your resolutions, you just have to set them correctly and choose better tools to fulfill them.

Why have you failed in the past?

  • How did you get into the action, and what did you do to achieve your goal?
  • What methods and tools suited you, and which ones didn’t suit you at all?
  • How long did you last working on yourself?
  • When and why did you give up success?

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” Try to think about the words of Abraham Lincoln, maybe they can help you think about your goals.

2. Making too many resolutions

Think about how many resolutions you have managed to keep in the last few years. And what makes you think you can manage to keep all 20 of them this year, when you may not have kept even one in the last few years? In addition, long-term pressure, stress, and fear of failure can accumulate with increasing number of resolutions, and pull the rug from under your feet. It is probably not your goal to have a full schedule 24/7 without a moment to chill out, just to automatically perform one task after another. How long do you think you could last? Sure, each of us wants to learn a lot in life and prove even more, but we would need a few lives for that.

Focus on what you really want, what you long for from the bottom of your heart, what resonates with you the most, and go for it. You don’t want to be average in everything, but perfect in something. Imagine that you want to achieve 20 different goals, each of which needs to be worked on for at least an hour a week, does that seem manageable? Isn’t it better to devote free time and energy to achieving one or two goals?

How do you split energy to achieve a large number of resolutions?

  • You intentionally put 100% of your spare energy into one resolution.
  • You intentionally put 100% of your spare energy into the fulfillment of 20 resolutions, when you have approximately 5% spare energy for each goal.

“If you spend your life trying to be good at everything, you will never be great at anything.” said Tom Rath, author and researcher in employee engagement, leadership, health and well-being.

Why it's not a good idea to make too many resolutions?

3. Taking it in an “all or nothing” style and wanting everything even yesterday.

Every year at the beginning of January, a huge number of people, with the aim of improving their lifestyle, hit the gym. However, data from a study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology says that by the end of January, about 36% of people will drop out, while in June, the number is 54%. In January, this 36% are people who regularly go after their resolutions every year and can keep up till the end of January at best. Why? There can be several reasons, including unrealistic expectations and a perfectionist approach of “all or nothing”. [4]

What is behind this approach? Precise approach according to a pre-set workout plan and diet plan, which, unfortunately, ends whenever people skip a workout or have some sweets or fast food. They believe in the fact that once they deviate from the set path, it is no longer worth trying. They think they have messed up everything with that extra food or skipped workout. However, this is a huge mistake because it is only one workout, and it is a great opportunity to relax and start with the next workout better mentally and physically prepared. Also, in the case of food, eating a hamburger or a whole bar of chocolate will only increase your energy intake by about a few hundred calories, nothing more. So, it is not necessary to eat secret supplies of sweets and ice cream with feelings of remorse and self-pity, but, for example, just skip the next meal and go on with your life.

The path to success is not a straight line, but rather a zigzag path with many turns, curves, constant fails and lessons. You might stumble a hundred times and lose a sense of purpose and direction for a moment, but just keep going. The most important factor for success is perseverance and consistency, and remember that nobody is perfect.

Data from the coaching system of Precision Nutrition shows that you really don’t have to be a superstar to be able to succeed. Even clients, who were only about 10-49% consistent in their plan, were able to succeed and lose weight on average 5-6% of their body weight. For nice results, it is enough to be consistent at about 50-79%, so there could be a space for a glass of wine, ice cream or chocolate. [7]

What does "all or nothing" mean, and why does this approach usually lead to failure?

4. Achieving Arnold Schwarzenegger’s shape in times of his greatest glory or J Lo’s booty

Every age has its heroes and idols, who should inspire people to self-development and give them hope that it is possible to achieve everything they desire. All right, let’s slow down. We all have limits to what we can do, due to our innate talents, abilities, circumstances, environmental influence, opportunities and available time. But that certainly doesn’t mean you should give up your big dreams and goals. Just start by setting small, realistic partial goals that you are able to handle given your current situation and capabilities. [8]

Have you come to terms with the fact that you won’t become like Harry Potter, Captain Marvel or Lady Gaga? That’s good because wanting to be like some celebrity or idol is the highway to hell. Imitating someone else’s appearance, habits, or even life is nice, for example, at Comic Con, but in real life? Each one of us writes their own story, and the book you are about to write has been written before you. You probably don’t want to be a copy of someone else, but to be yourself.

Always set realistic goals that are easier to achieve, also because your body will reward you in the form of dopamine release, which makes you feel good about achieving your goals. Do you think it’s not enough to want to lose 5 kilograms or go jogging for half an hour every other day? This is an excellent goal, which over time can result in losing 20 kg or running a marathon. Respect the overall process and set small goals first.

What could it look like?

daily goalweekly goalmonthly goalhalf-yearly goallife goal
Go to a football training / match and train the extra technique.Participate on all trainings, matches and do 2 extra hours.Do everything 100%, learn to eat and regenerate properly.Use the full potential of training in a local club, work extra and take a trial in a club playing at least one league higher.Becoming the next Messi.
Eat 4 servings of vegetables, 2 servings of fruit and do 20 minutes of sports activity.Reduce the consumption of fast food, sweets and savory delicacies by 1 serving.Find out what macronutrients are, how many to eat, and start going to the gym once a week.Create and consult diet plan, exercise three times a week and go for walks and spend one weekend a month in an active manner.Lose 30 kg of weight.
Run for at least 15 minutes or go for an intense walk.Run for 30 minutes every other day and start stretching after the activity.Run for 45 minutes every other day, stretch after the activity and start exercising your legs once a week.Create and consult a training plan, stretch after the activity, exercise once a week and run 20 kilometers once every 2 months.Run a marathon.

Even if you’re not going to become the next Messi, Schwarzenegger or Michael Jordan, you will do the most you can to fulfill your potential and achieve what drives you forward and what you breathe for. Following your goals is more than just talking about them, and then you can wonder what it could be like… If you encounter a loss of motivation and still want to be successful, read our article 5 Tips to Stay Active, Motivated and Continue Exercising Even at Home.

“To be a great champion you must believe you are the best. If you’re not, pretend you are.” said boxing legend Muhammad Ali.

Is it right to want a body like Arnold Schwarzenegger in times of his greatest glory or a booty like J Lo's?

5. Constantly just talk and think about your resolutions and not planning at all.

Everyone knows how to talk and think about their resolutions and goals, however, not everyone can take action. Why regret in the future that you didn’t have the courage to follow your dreams and reach for the stars? How many great ideas have you already had and how many have you implemented? It is often the hardest to start, then everything is a little easier.

Once you take action, it’s nice to have at least a framework plan. When you don’t have a plan, you don’t know where you should be in a week, a month, three months or half a year. On the other hand, you don’t have to have everything planned in the greatest detail. It costs a lot of effort, and it is a pretty decent cognitive load, which can lead you to give up on it. Have a direction, a framework plan and most importantly take action because the world is not waiting, the time always runs forwards, and there is someone who wants to achieve exactly the same thing you do.

“The way to start is to stop talking and start doing,” and that’s what helped the Disney brothers to found The Walt Disney Production.

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6. Going for it without a timetable, deadline and forgetting to record progress.

Not having at least a framework plan is the way to not make it work. How do you know that you are approaching your goal, or at least a little further than a month ago? Definitely by monitoring the variables of progress on control days, which are a sort of deadlines. You may be wondering what deadlines are good for? As at work or at university, they create an impression of urgency. These deadlines should be the checkpoints you need to go through.

Why is it advantageous? With a plan, you’ll know what to do to meet your goal, and it’s easier to stay on track. Monitoring the progress in the form of deadlines motivates you to work a little harder, and when you meet the partial goal, you activate your internal reward system, which will reward you with pleasant feelings and additional motivation thanks to release of dopamine in the body. However, don’t forget to reward yourselves in other ways. For example, new well-fitting sportswear or a long weekend? If you are interested in how a number on a scale can mask progress and how to measure it correctly, read our article Why the Scale Shows You a Higher Number, and It’s Not Fat.

“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail,” Benjamin Franklin once said.

Why is it not enough to just talk about your resolutions, but to take action?

7. Losing weight, going to the gym or eating healthier and being healthier while you don’t know what it means to you

The problem with general resolutions is that they are too vague, and you don’t even fully understand what is actually behind the goal you set. What does it mean to eat healthy or improve health? That you force yourself to eat a piece of vegetable or fruit every day, and you feel like you are eating healthy? Probably not, but it’s a good start. It works the same in the case of a general improvement in health, define exactly what your New Year’s resolution means, how you will achieve it, measure progress, stay on track and what will determine your success. Will you work on your goal every day or once a week?

You have set a New Year’s resolution, which means you want to change something in your life. What is this “something”? When you look back on your life, your dissatisfaction, or your desire to change something, you will find that your current habits, behaviour, and the way you live have taken you to this point in the decision to change something. To achieve effective results, it is necessary to change, or at least adjust, the habits and behaviour that will help you keep your resolution.

Start slowly, in easy small steps that will naturally become a part of your life. To successfully maintain and incorporate new habits, they need to be easily applied in your daily lifestyle to become routine. If you suddenly change your behaviour completely and try to eat according to a diet composed of foods that you didn’t even know existed before, you are about to fall into an abyss of unfulfilled resolutions. Take it easy and think in long-term. You are not running a marathon to beat Usain Bolt. [9]

Focus on the process, not the results. As you gradually adjust the path to your goal, you will get there once. And when that happens, you’ll find that the path of adjustment and learning new habits has led you to your goal. It wasn’t about “I want to lose weight, I want to exercise, I want to be healthy,” but about eating more vegetables and protein, less processed foods, having a reasonable training plan, enough of sleep, and a million other things you did well.

How about trying out some of these tips to lose weight and make your lifestyle healthier?

  • Going to work on foot or by bicycle from time to time.
  • Using stairs instead of escalators and elevators.
  • More walking and cycling in general and less use of the car in situations where it is not necessary.
  • Sit less and move more.
  • Eat about 4 medium-sized pieces of vegetables and 2 favorite fruits every day.
  • Gradually reduce the intake of sweetened lemonades, energy drinks and sugar drinks.
  • Drink more tap water.
  • Read more product labels on foods and avoid anything that contains large amounts of salt (salt intake should be about 5 grams per day).
  • Prepare healthy foods and always have fast and healthy snacks in your pantry. If you don’t know how to do this, read our article What Should a Balanced Snack Contain and How to Replace Caloric Snacks?
  • Find a physical activity that you enjoy and do it ideally every other day. It doesn’t have to be CrossFit or fitness just because it’s cool. Do you know How Many Calories Can You Burn with Your Favourite Winter Activities?
  • Cook at home, so that you have your food under control and studies show that home cooking is less likely to be associated with overweight. [10]
  • Engage in at least one technique to reduce stress.
  • Spend at least X hours outdoors and in nature every week.
  • Limit your time in front of the TV screen, computer, mobile phone and other smart devices.

In connection with making your lifestyle healthier and possible weight loss, it is necessary to focus on your habits and behaviour, not on following a new miraculous diet. You control what you eat and drink, how you exercise or sleep, and you can also change that. The result of trying to lose weight is not to stand on the scales every day and ask it if you have already achieved your goal and feel miserable because of it, but to control your behaviour and habits that will lead you to that goal. If you wonder what to do if you don’t see the results of your efforts, read our article Why Aren’t You Seeing Results from Diet and Hard Work at the gym? We will advise you on how to succeed.

“Having a positive mental attitude is asking how something can be done rather than saying it can’t be done.” Bo. Bennett

How to start eating healthier, exercise and meet resolutions?

8. Change your behaviour from day to day into a professional athlete’s

Being determined doesn’t mean that you have to train hard every day and not take a moment to rest. Remember that the workout plans of professional athletes circulating on the Internet may not be the right thing to copy. The main goal of professional athletes is to be the best athlete possible, they also have suitably created conditions, time for training, regeneration, diet and sleep. While you have to keep up with your daily life and take care of the household, which is difficult to combine with hard training regime.

Think about how to do it to make it suit you without significantly disrupting other aspects of your life. For example, you can save time by reducing time spent on TV or social media and devoting it to exercise? Don’t forget to have enough of rest; it is enough to have a strength workout three times a week together with endurance or team sport you enjoy. Focus on getting as much natural movement as possible during the day, for example by walking more.

“Some people succeed because they are destined to do, but most will succeed because they are determined to succeed.” Henry Van Dyke.

9. Start with a detox, fasting, juice or lemon diet, fitness challenge or totally change your behavior.

At the beginning of the new year, everyone is determined to succeed and try to do everything for it. However, only until that “everything” brings fast results, and if possible without much effort. Perhaps because of this, they can more often resort to extreme solutions in the form of all sorts of a detox and pointless diets promising a quick and painless solution of the problem. But thanks to those 5 exercises, you won’t have the flat stomach in a week, just like the dream body after a month of an amazing new diet of famous Hollywood stars. The world, simply put, is not a pink cloud with flying unicorns, where everyone gets everything they desire. After completing these various fitness programs, you may even reach for a glass of wine to calm the anger over failing. And even if you succeed this way, what then? Would your habits change in any way, or would you return to your original lifestyle?

The same is represented by various fitness challenges, when you complete a monthly belly challenge, limit gluten and sugar from the diet, or try carb cycling. As a result, it may motivate someone to continue their challenges or move on to a more active lifestyle, but then there’s the vast majority of people who get some results after 30 days of hard work and renunciation, but go back to the old lifestyle. What happens? The return of old habits and behaviour also means the return of lost kilograms.

It all takes time and systematic work to gradually change behavior, break down old ones and learn new habits that will bring you results. Extreme approaches and behavioral changes are a dead end.

If a celebrity inspires you to make New Year’s resolutions, it’s certainly not bad, but trying to copy their approach and methods may not work for you, because you live a completely different life.

“You’ll never change your life until you change something you do every day,” Mike Murdock once said.

Why doesn't a detox, fasting, juice or lemon diet help you lose weight permanently?

10. Not asking for help

“I can handle everything myself.” One of the biggest lies we tell ourselves. When you start something yourself, it’s fine for a while. But once you might have a bad mood, you don’t want to work out, you have no time to prepare food, or you will need someone to show you the right direction and way to achieve your goal.

Share your resolutions and ambitions with family, friends and colleagues at work. This allows you to create an effective supportive environment that will work for you, not against you. You can buy healthier food, cook healthier meals for an entire family, or they all might motivate you to work out or do any other activity to fulfill your resolution.

Find a workout partner who won’t let you sit on the couch at home and make you go working out, even if you don’t want to. If you know that the other person is relying on you, it will be easier for you to go to training and not skip it.

Hire a coach. Sure, you can do it yourself, but the journey may be quite longer, and it will also cost you more effort and fails. Whether it’s a fitness trainer, nutritionist, foreign language teacher or musical instrument teacher, it’s worth it. Such a person will show you the direction, provide tools to achieve your goal and help you gradually become independent. You will be able to handle everything yourself much faster and more efficiently.

“This is not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves,” said the famous climber Sir Edmund Hillary. He was the first man to conquer Mount Everest, knowing that it was not a struggle with the mountain, but with himself.

What’s the lesson?

To completely turn life around from day to day and want to do dozens of new things just because you have made a resolution is, unfortunately, a typical example of how not to do it. Of course, there are exceptions to the rule, but why take unnecessary risks and bet on it. Think about what brought you to the point where you want to change something and what needs to be done to implement such change. Don’t want everything right now, be patient, consistent, hungry for success, stay crazy about it and follow your passion. If you don’t, you might one day ask yourself “What if?”…

“Tomorrow is the first blank page of a 365-page book,” said Brad Paisley, and I would add that this book is one of many of your great life stories.

Do you have New Year’s resolutions? Share them with us in the comments section along with your advice and tips on how to meet your goals and resolutions. If you liked the article, support it by sharing so that your friends can learn how not to fail and fulfill their resolutions this year.


[1] Luciani, J. – Why 80 Percent of New Year's Resolutions Fail – https://health.usnews.com/health-news/blogs/eat-run/articles/2015-12-29/why-80-percent-of-new-years-resolutions-fail

[2] Oscarsson, M., Carlbring, P., Andersson, G., & Rozental, A. – A large-scale experiment on New Year’s resolutions: Approach-oriented goals are more successful than avoidance-oriented goals. – https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0234097

[3] Zomick, B. – Top 10 Most Common New Year's Resolutions (and How to Follow Through on Them) – https://www.goskills.com/Soft-Skills/Resources/Top-10-new-years-resolutions

[4] Norcross, J. C., Mrykalo, M. S., & Blagys, M. D. – Auld lang Syne: Success predictors, change processes, and self-reported outcomes of New Year’s resolvers and nonresolvers. – https://doi.org/10.1002/jclp.1151

[5] Dai, H., Milkman, K. L., & Riis, J. – The Fresh Start Effect: Temporal Landmarks Motivate Aspirational Behavior. – https://doi.org/10.1287/mnsc.2014.1901

[6] Kliff, S. – The science of actually keeping your New Year's resolutions. – https://www.vox.com/2014/12/29/7434433/new-years-resolutions-psychology

[7] St. Pierre, B., MS, RD, CSCS, DePutter C. – Nearly 1 million data points show what it REALLY takes to lose fat, get healthy, and change your body. – https://www.precisionnutrition.com/body-transformation-research

[8] Lee, Y. B. – Got New Year’s Resolutions? Here Are 10 Common But Really Bad Ones – https://www.forbes.com/sites/brucelee/2020/01/08/top-10-common-but-really-bad-new-years-resolutions

[9] Wood, W. – Habit in Personality and Social Psychology. Personality and Social Psychology Review – https://doi.org/10.1177/1088868317720362

[10] Mills, S., Brown, H., Wrieden, W., White, M., & Adams, J. – Frequency of eating home cooked meals and potential benefits for diet and health: Cross-sectional analysis of a population-based cohort study. – https://doi.org/10.1186/s12966-017-0567-y

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