Top Reasons Why Resolutions, Goals Fail You

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There are lots of reasons why resolutions and goals can fail you. Here are the ones I see the most often for others as well as myself.

They don’t inspire you

If it’s not something you really want to do, you aren’t going to do it, or you aren’t going to do it for long! It takes willpower, of which we have limited resources, to white-knuckle yourself through things you don’t want to do. And don’t you already have enough things you don’t want in your life. Why are you adding more, on purpose!

For example, there are 100 ways to get fit. If you pick the one you hate the most (for its calorie-burning, sculpting, or sweating ability), it’s not going to work for you anyway, BECAUSE YOU WON’T DO IT! Why not focus on something you will do like walking, or yoga, or powerlifting, ballroom dancing, or sign up to help build houses for the needy on the weekends, you know, the form of movement THAT GETS YOU EXCITED TO DO IT!

They aren’t realistic for you!

A golden key to achieving goals is to make them attainable to you: a bit of a stretch, but not too much. Yes, you can have big, ostentatious goals (please do!), but if you want to be 7’ tall and your family genes have other plans in store for you, you’re not aiming at the right thing for you.

That “for you” bit is big!

Let’s take weight loss goals as they are one of (if not the most) common of new year’s resolutions. Let’s say you choose to lose 50 lbs. Where did that number “50” come from? Your doctor? The BMI scale? Your own “ideal” weight? Regardless of where it came from, is it the right number for you? Let’s say, after examining the facts, you recognize that 40 is the right number for you to shed.

Could you, in a realistic and healthy manner, lose 40 lbs this year? I’m not asking anyone but you! Some people lose weight faster than others. If you lose weight a little slower, and to be completely realistic with your lifestyle, maybe 10 lbs is a better goal for you this year. 

Yes, you could totally have all your fat sucked out and bam: lost the weight! Or you could go on an extreme diet and exercise plan (eat much less, exercise much more), but even if you lose the weight on such a crazy plan, they have been proven to not work in the long run! So not maintainable. For others, their crazy awesome metabolism will compensate, and they don’t lose any weight anyway! 

Or maybe a weight loss goal is in conflict with a higher priority: to get pregnant. A healthy pregnancy is supposed to lead to some weight gain.

Here’s another way to look at realistic for you: I always want to get better at becoming better. I could set an ostentatious goal of reading 40 self-help books, but honestly, I can only take in 3-4 a year total, because I want to read other things (true crime and fantasy!), and if I had such a high goal I would probably end up skimming the books rather than really taking them in. A better goal for me would be to listen to a self-help book 1-2 times a week while walking my dogs. This one, actually, isn’t even a goal for me anymore because it’s just what I do now. Walk the dogs, listen to a book. (Audiobooks totally count for reading goals!!!!)

While choosing a wiser number is a better goal, it still isn’t the best type of goal.

They are not aligned with your current priorities

As with our previous example of weight loss and pregnancy, when you have conflicting priorities, setting goals for both is definitely going to fail you.

Let’s look at another example. You’ve decided to get 5 new certificates or start a master’s program this year, but you actually really want to have more family time. You can’t do both well if the certificates take up a significant amount of time. So 5 new certificates is not the right goal, not right now anyway. (You can totally do it later, or do it slower… Maybe just one this year.)

A better goal would be to have planned family nights once a week and family dates at least once a month. Take them bowling, swimming, have a game night, make cookies (healthy ones of course!), etc. Or, even better: take them to museums, zoos, family craft classes, or have a puzzle-solving night. Then you can expand your mind while spending more time with the fam.

They are too focused on arbitrary numbers instead of meaningful results!

Examples of this kind of goal could be: 

  • Lose 50 lbs
  • Read 40 self-help books
  • Get a $5,000 pay raise

I’m not saying these goals are meaningless, but first, let’s make them more realistic:

  • Lose 10-15 lbs
  • Read 3-4 books
  • Get a $2,000 pay raise

This is better, but 

Here’s a secret: the number doesn’t matter. You heard me right! The number doesn’t matter even when you pick a wiser number, there is something deeper missing here. That’s why these types of goals aren’t motivating! 

Why do you want to achieve these goals? What is the feeling you want to experience?

Let’s take another look at the weight loss goal:

  • Lose 50 lbs this year.

Why is it bad? Because the number is results-oriented at a weight, a number, by the way, that naturally fluctuates anyway! A realistic range of weight to lose (10-15 lbs) is better, but the ultimate goal is actually to be healthier, stronger, fitter, and/or sexier, right? Or maybe you just want to feel good about yourself and how you look. Guess what! Regardless of what the scale says, or even your own negative self-talk, you can achieve any and all of those things! Yep, you can be healthier and not drop a pound. You can look good without changing your size. You can be stronger and actually gain weight! See! The number doesn’t matter! So what do you do instead?

If the goal is to be healthier: Why not choose some healthy habits THAT YOU WOULD ENJOY adding into your routine and take the focus off the arbitrary result (be X lbs) and onto the result that really matters (feeling healthier and happier!)

Some examples of healthier, fitter, and/or stronger goals, resolutions:

  • Add three new healthy habits this year: drinking plenty of water, walking 15 mins/day, meditate for at least 3 minutes daily (bedtime preferred).
  • Be able to walk the entire nature park near my home 5-7 times weekly.
  • Learn 1-3 new and delicious whole plant food based dinners to incorporate into my family’s meal plan each month.
  • Try one new exercise type each month: ballroom dance, yoga, pilates, powerlifting, karate, MMA, step aerobics, rowing, and pole dancing. When I find one I like, I’ll sign up for a bit. Then on to the next one! 

You haven’t stated what makes them meaningful

Even when they inspire you and are meaningful, there will be times when you just don’t want to stick to your goals. Stating the meaning to you will help you stick to your goals when you lack motivation and willpower. 

Let’s take the goals from above and some possible meaningfulness to them:

  • Add three new healthy habits this year: drinking plenty of water, walking 15 mins/day, meditate for at least 3 minutes daily (bedtime preferred). I feel better when I take the time to take care of myself and each of these take little time so I can still do other things I enjoy.
  • Be able to walk the entire nature park near my home 5-7 times weekly. Walking in nature soothes me and my dogs and I really enjoy the scenery of this walk. Plus, the full length gets me to the recommended steps daily for my health and I don’t even need the step counter or timer!
  • Learn 1-3 new and delicious whole plant food based dinners to incorporate into my family’s meal plan each month. I know the best nutrition plan for me will have more plants, but I don’t know enough recipes or quick meals. I also enjoy learning how to cook new things so this will be fun and healthy!
  • Try one new exercise type each month: ballroom dance, yoga, pilates, powerlifting, karate, MMA, step aerobics, rowing, and pole dancing (I believe this will help me feel sexy no matter my current size!). When I find one I like, I’ll sign up for a bit. Then on to the next one! I really enjoy trying new things. I get bored doing the same old things all the time. This will also give me the opportunity to meet new people and potentially make some great new friends!

You’re too fixated on the possibility of failure!

This fixation often leads to inaction or not enough action. So get comfortable with failure. It’s okay to have goals that fail; part of trying to do new things is failing. It is part of the learning process. The people who succeed the most recognize that a failed goal isn’t a failure as long as you learn from it!

When a goal or resolution fails, determine why it failed by comparing it to the reasons above. Then set an appropriate goal and go for it!

As long as you keep doing this, you’ll keep moving forward, progressing, and enjoying life.

“The more you fail, the faster you’ll succeed!
If you don’t ever try, you will never achieve!
It’s okay to re-evaluate or give up a goal.
But never, not ever, give up on your soul!”

~ Nancy N. Blackburn

You Need an Outside Perspective

We can’t see what we can’t see, and we all have our blind spots. This article has only a limited list of reasons for goal failures, with a very limited list of examples! You are an individual and crafting the right goals and resolutions for you can be daunting and overwhelming. How do you know if you are doing it right? Or whether you could do it better? Working with a mentor can help you achieve more success, faster by helping you see beyond your own limitations and craft the right goals for you!

Time Sensitive Offer!

If you want improved results in less time, then you are who I designed the “Creating Your New Your Strategy” for! It’s a fun mentoring group that meets online and guides you through crafting your New You Strategy so that you can live a life of joy, peace, and fun; and all for less than the cost of take-out.

Act quickly! There are limited spots!

See you soon Gorgeous!


Published by Nancy N. Blackburn

🌺Holistic Wellness Mentor & Leader: helping hardworking mamas regain physical, mental, and emotional wellness so they can flourish! 🎮 Game Professor & Scholar, Technical Game Designer

2 thoughts on “Top Reasons Why Resolutions, Goals Fail You

  1. Oh yeah. Great point on goals needing to be aligned with our priorities. I myself have given up a couple of well-paying jobs because they really don’t align with who I want to be as a writer. And even a ‘harder’ life is much more bearable as long as I’m headed in the right direction. Thanks for this post!

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