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7 Reasons Your Resolutions Fail and How to Achieve Greater Results

It’s December, and 2016 is just around the corner. It’s time to get all your holiday shopping done, see family and friends, travel, and eat a few delicious feasts; on top of that, you plan on kicking this new year’s ass!

I want to help you succeed in 2016, so I’ve made a list of common reasons that resolutions fail, and 7 tips for what you can do to avoid these common pitfalls.

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It doesn’t matter who you are. When January 1st rolls around, New Year’s resolutions probably come to mind. You may start thinking: “I should be healthier,” or “I’ll do a better job managing my relationships, and my money.”

You want to make changes that will improve your life. However, change doesn’t come easy, and even the best-intended resolution can become a burden.

There are three main reasons that setting resolutions can feel like a chore, rather than an opportunity to have a life closer to what we want.

  • We tend to set vague and unrealistic goals.
  • We choose resolutions that aren’t meaningful or motivating.
  • We expect perfection throughout the year.

Keep reading to find out how to keep your New Years resolution while avoiding each of these problems.

1. Avoid Vague and Unrealistic Goals

We often pick goals that are farther off than we are ready for, or that don’t have a specific “win state” attached to them.

We are focused on getting to the top of the staircase when really we should be focused on getting up that first step. Settle down there, Rocky!

Build a foundation before you look to move forward.

2. Make Goals Attainable and Specific

It’s easy to fall into the trap of making resolutions that sound great, but don’t really give us anything to work towards. Example: “I’m going to be an amazing musician by next year!”

Goals like these are hard to make progress on because, not only do we feel horribly far away from being amazing, we don’t even know what being amazing looks like. The solution is to come up with a specific action, event or achievement that proves we’re on the right track.

Try: “By next year, I will have learned enough songs to play at an open mic night.”

3. Break Large Goals Into Steps

We have all procrastinated on a school assignment with a faraway deadline, only to panic at the last moment. The same thing can happen with resolutions we set for a date too far in the future.

Start with something you can do once a day, or maybe even once a week. Then extend your time frame to three weeks, then a month, then three months. It’s about focusing on what is achievable and not getting caught up in a ridiculous 12-month goal.

4. Make Sure Resolutions Are Meaningful and Motivating

Startup guru, Paul Graham once wrote in a blog post that, “[prestige] causes you to work not on what you like, but what you’d like to like.”

Sometimes we choose resolutions not because they resonate with us personally but because we “have to” or because they will impress the right people. We can also take things too seriously, and fail to celebrate the small milestones and achievements on our way to the larger goal.

5. Keep it Fun

Nothing is worse than turning a goal you wanted to accomplish into something you can’t stand doing. It’s important to keep things changing, so you avoid growing bored with that activity.

For example, I change up my running schedule by inserting sports when possible. Hockey and soccer both work my legs and are extremely fun: you can change up the means, and still have the same end.

6. Reward Yourself

We are all human, and on some days, the motivation just isn’t there.

Don’t forget to reward yourself with a day off every once in awhile: a cheat day with some delicious food, or a night out with friends.

Try to reward yourself immediately after positive actions.

If you’ve been struggling all day to get yourself to go to the gym and it’s not going to happen, even 5 push-ups before settling down to Netflix is better than not doing anything.

7. Don’t Expect Perfection

We often set our resolutions with a vision in our heads of floating gracefully across the finish line in December, with every day on the calendar proudly crossed off.

But the reality is that even getting through the first month can be challenging!

January can be stressful as people are coming off the holidays where they spent a lot of money, ate too much, and to top it off – the weather is depressing.

If we mess up our resolution early on, it’s tempting to just give up. But even if we don’t exactly meet our goals, being “close enough” is often a lot farther than where we started.

The way you can deal with this problem is with accountability partners to keep you on track, or by using sprints that let you plan for time off.


Whether it is guidance, a gym buddy, or your daily check list – they all help! Great examples of guidance are the headspace and calm apps for guided meditation.

Having a support system to help you along is great, and if you are really brave, you can go public and tell everyone. Your friends will be sure to add a bit of accountability as well.


Don’t worry, I don’t mean running, although that’s good for you too. I’m talking about setting up opportunities where you can focus and work hard for a set period of time.

Sprints are important, as they define a clear start and end rather than a never-ending cycle. They are also good for tracking and comparing metrics that allow you to see your improvement over time.

Why is all of this important?

Goals and resolutions are important because even when we don’t achieve them, the act of thinking and planning them out gives us a better idea of what we want from our lives.

Whether your resolutions for the New Year are health, financial, or relationship based, they help us grow by giving us a destination to travel towards.

Remember to make your goals specific, achievable, and personally meaningful.

But don’t forget to cut yourself some slack if things don’t go exactly the way you were planning.

Finally, I’d like to share the core values we operate by at Addo – the fundamental ABC’s that guide our company, which may help you when it comes to setting your own goals.

Your motivation should come from within to have any real impact, and you are your greatest motivator. Think of something you really want to change, something you are motivated to improve.

Balance is about managing time well. If you are looking to create a new routine, then you need to ensure you have time for it.

Make your plan and stick to it. You are going to have to put in the work. There are no shortcuts in life – but don’t let this deter you, consistency is the true key to building habits.

This blog post is brought to you by Moses Robicheau, the Former CEO of Addo, a wellness game for companies that’s played 21 days at a time and rewards holistic health. Addo makes it fun and simple to build a healthy company culture with teams, goals and points for healthy habits! Check out the Wagepoint Marketplace to get access to Addo’s exclusive offer.