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Top 5 Reasons New Year’s Resolutions Fail

Are your New Year’s Resolutions doomed to failure?

By most reports, 80-92% of resolutions do, in fact, fail. And, the majority are abandoned by February.


While reasons vary, there are common mistakes made when setting resolutions. Both in setting them and in follow-through.

Here are the Top 5 Reasons Resolutions Fail and how you can succeed.

Top 5 Reasons New Year’s Resolutions Fail

1. You Set Broad End-Result Resolutions rather than Habit-Based

When declaring resolutions, most people focus on the end result. For example, a New Year’s Resolution may be to lose 20 pounds.

This is a good place to start.

They begin working on losing 20 pounds, but they have not necessarily set up a real plan, or goals for daily and weekly habits to support this goal.

Typically, by 1, 2, or 3 months into the year, the resolutation has not come to fruition, they feel like failures, and they give up until motivation strikes again (see #4).

Instead, use these 3 criteria for a good resolution:

  • It is specific.
  • It is within your control and based on your own actions.
  • It has a realistic deadline.
  • There has to be room for follow-through and adjustments.

Instead of “Lose 20 pounds,” try:

  • Exercise for 30 minutes 4-5x/week.
  • Stay in the Keto Zone 6 of 7 days per week.
  • Maintain these habits through the first 3 months of the year and re-evaluate/adjust on 4/1/19 based on progress.

2. You go it alone.

If you don’t tell anyone your resolution, are you as likely to stick to it?

A recent study published in Obesity showed that participants who engaged in team-based weight loss programs lost weight similarly to other team members. The teams with the most “weight loss” focused lost the most, and those who participated in groups with the most social influence and activity lost more than those with less participation (1).

The lesson? Those you’re around can significantly influence your weight loss and habits. If there’s not a healthy influence in your home or among you’re friends, it’s worthwhile to seek a community (at a health club, etc) who support your goals and will work alongside you.

3. You Don’t Apply Tangible Consequences.

It’s easy to quit on a resolution if there’s no immediate consequence. But, if you set up negative and positive consequences ahead of time, you’ll have more reason to stick to it and form the habit regardless of how you feel.

An example of a negative consequence may be paying someone $5 every day you don’t wake up to exercise like you’ve planned.

A positive consequence may be awarding yourself a weekend trip or afternoon activity that you’ve been wanting to do. For example, if you stick to your keto zone and exercise resolutions from #1 for 12 weeks, you reward yourself this positive consequence.

If money is an issue, perhaps reducing the amount of money spent on fast-food or cable TV can off-set it.

4. You Lose Motivation

Motivation is a feeling. And, like all feelings, it’s up, it’s down, and it’s fleeting.

Habits are actions. They are not emotional. They require discipline, but once you’ve repeated them over and over, they become a part of your life.

By writing good resolutions, finding supportive partners, and utilizing positive and negative consequences, you can establish these habits and resolution.

In fact, study after study shows that real change occurs when habits are formed regardless of motivation (2).

5. Your Resolutions Feel like Burdens rather than Exciting Opportunities

When you think of resolutions, do you feel positive and excited, or more negative or anxious?

If you’re not excited, start over.

You may need to either rethink your resolutions themselves, or re-write them to support what you want out of life rather than what you don’t.

For example, “Lose 20 pounds” may make you feel sad about your current weight, anxious because of the times you’ve failed at weight loss in the past, or even spiteful if you feel like others are pushing you toward this goals.

On the other hand, what if it was set up as a resolution to gain something in 2019?

For example, using habit-based resolutions in order to get fitter and play with children or grandchildren without fatigue.

Or, work to get strong enough to ride your bike 20 miles – something you’ve always wanted to do.

Research shows that positively reframing resolutions to “gaining health,” rather than deprivation, increases maintenance and results (3).

Bottom Line

We’ve provided a 3-Step Process to Setting Resolutions that Make 2019 your healthiest year yet.

  1. Start with Positive Reflection of Past Accomplishments & Challenges. Give yourself an educated, clean slate.
  2. Use our 10 Tips to Stay on Track with New Years Resolutions to write yours for this year.
  3. Review and Make Sure you’re not falling for any of the Top 5 Reason Resolutions Fail (this guide).

You’ve got this. Make 2019 your healthiest year!


  1. I have a question. Is the Keto diet good for those who are struggling with adrenal issues? I am assuming it is but just thought I would ask. Thank you Dr. Colbert for all the info you share.

    • HI Sheron,

      If you are chronically fatigued and just feel plain tired all the time, it is very likely that you have adrenal fatigue, which is a condition in where the delicate balance of the hormones produced by the adrenal glands is thrown off. Unfortunately, eating too few carbohydrates, as is the case on the keto diet, could exacerbate adrenal fatigue and cause more problems.We recommend you to visit your health practitioner.I hope this helps!


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