Why New Year’s Resolutions
Fail – and How To Succeed

So here we are, a few weeks into the New Year. How many of us have kept our resolutions? I bet a few (or more) of us are slouching down in our seats as we read this.

Why New Year’s Resolutions Fail


By the end of January, 50% of people will have faltered on their New Year’s resolutions—and it goes straight downhill from there. So, if you’ve fallen off your resolution wagon, know that you’re in very good company.

When we look at why New Year’s resolutions fail, it’s not because we don’t have enough willpower or because we’re weak. Our resolutions don’t fail because we’re just “lazy” or because we “can’t change.”

Why New Year’s resolutions fail? Because we don’t make the RIGHT resolutions.

Think of all the common resolutions you hear:

  • I want to lose 50 pounds!
  • I’m going to give up sugar!
  • I want to stop shopping online!
  • I want to get a big promotion!
  • No more bad dates!
  • I’m never yelling at my kids again!
  • I resolve to run a marathon this year!

Often, our resolutions are so lofty, they’re easily broken once…and then that’s it. We’ve failed. We throw in the towel.

Either that or our resolutions are intertwined with our soft addictions—those timewasters and other things we do that aren’t so healthy, like wasting time on the internet, skipping the gym to stay in bed, feeling guilty over too many Netflix binge-sessions, eating the extra dessert, or buying those shoes we can’t afford so we put them on a credit card (we also can’t afford to pay off).

These aren’t signs that we’re hopeless, bad or lazy, or that we can’t achieve our goals. These are all signs of “mis-wanting.” We can’t unlock our goals because we don’t actually want the things that would bring us happiness.

What is Happiness?

Underneath many of our goals and resolutions is the desire to “be happy.” We all want happiness, but many of us aren’t even sure what happiness means for us, or what it would truly look like.

In a classic study of lottery winners and accident victims, it was determined that happiness isn’t as relative as one might think. The lottery winners reported immediate gratification, of course, but after a year, their happiness levels returned to their pre-win state. For the accident victims, despite suffering horrible tragedy, their happiness also returned back to baseline after a year.

The lesson here? Whether lottery winner or accident victim, the happy people stayed happy and the miserable people…well, they stayed miserable. This is referred to as the hedonic treadmill. Despite the positive or negative happenings in our lives, we often return to the same levels of happiness.

It’s not to say that we shouldn’t try to aim for happiness or determine what “makes us happy,” of course, but we should be aware that happiness isn’t our singular objective, nor does money or being thin usually result in happiness. (Although we often think that money or weight loss are the two things holding us back.)

The reality is, we think something is going to “make” us happy. We mis-want things and until we unlock the deeper desires (the “why”), we’re going to keep spinning our wheels and walking along on a treadmill…moving toward a carrot we can never catch.

Figuring Out Our WHY = Getting to the Root of True Joy

The things that really bring us true happiness are what we can offer to the world.  These are our “gifts” and they directly correlate to our deepest desires, also known as our “yearnings.”

When we work to unlock our yearnings, we can see the bigger wants—the things that will TRULY bring us the happiness, satisfaction and joy we desire. It’s not finishing a marathon, fitting into our skinny jeans, organizing our office, or even getting the promotion.

Underneath these small goals or resolutions, there are bigger, deeper yearnings:

  • I yearn to be loved.
  • I yearn to be seen.
  • I yearn to be acknowledged.
  • I yearn to be accepted.

We can unlock our yearnings by running our goals through the “so that” test, like so:

I want to lose 20 pounds, SO THAT I can have more energy. I want to have more energy, SO THAT I can keep up with my kids. I want to keep up with my kids, SO THAT I can have a strong connection with them. I YEARN to connect with my kids.

Suddenly, when we unlock the deeper meaning, the “why” of our goals and resolutions, we become laser-focused on achieving them. The steps to attaining the larger goal become clear.

Not only does our path become obvious, but also, it opens us up to the truth that, well, we don’t need to lose 20 pounds to connect with our kids. We can start getting that bliss right NOW! We already have the winning lottery ticket right in our hands!

The amazing thing is, once we identify our yearnings and seek ways to directly fulfill them, we might find the pounds melt away. We’re connected with our kids, playing with them more, engaging in life, and not numbing ourselves behind ice cream and the internet. Suddenly, we’re more active and more energized, our clothes fit and we’re loving life!

Realizing Our Gifts & Living Our Best Lives

Within each and every person are gifts that they bring to the world around them. When we’re doing things for others, thinking of ways to engage and cultivate relationships with those around us, and building our best selves, these gifts become more evident and clear.

“Accepting that we all have gifts, we can join the quest to discover them. We needn’t be limited by mistaken beliefs that we’re not talented or that others are special but not us, or that it is showing off to share our gifts. Convincing ourselves that we lack any real gifts or have nothing to contribute leaves us with an aching void that we often fill with soft addictions. Our fear of failure and our perfectionist approaches bar us from fully engaging in life. We are willing to just get by in order to distract ourselves from our fear. If we believe we have nothing to contribute we don’t fully engage in life and we seek solace in soft addictions. Since we only discover our gifts by engaging in life, we may miss finding the gifts we surly posses…
…By developing and offering your gifts, you grow. You become more skilled and more fulfilled. Something new is created and brought into the world. The creativity you express through your gifts empowers you to add meaning to your life and the lives you touch.”
– The Soft Addiction Solution

You are a gift. You deserve to be happy and have your yearnings met. Make it your resolution to STOP going nowhere on the goal treadmill. Unlock your desires and bring your gifts to the world!

Once you’re making the right resolutions, you’ll find keeping them is a pleasure! You’ll be more engaged, you’ll have more energy, and ultimately, you’ll find the secret to bringing more love, light and happiness into your life!

So stop beating yourself up about missed resolutions and failed goals. Reframe your path and aim for the things you really want! If you need some ideas on how to determine your path or if you need coaching on your life journey, please visit www.wrightliving.com.

Wright Living is a division of the Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential, a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Living performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.

Jumpstart Your Resolve:
Have a Healthy, Joyous Holiday!

How many of us whip up our New Year’s Resolutions after spending the week prior to New Year’s Eve stressed out and just trying to make it through the hustle, bustle and excess of the holidays?

Wondering how to keep those New Year's resolutions? It starts by jumpstarting your new year resolve.


Anyone who’s had too much eggnog or too many cookies knows exactly what I’m talking about. When we overdo it over the holidays, we can come into the New Year feeling more sluggish than motivated.

The holidays can be a great time of joy and wonder, but they can also be a time of stress and hurriedness. We’re trying to finish up projects at work, fit in family time, give the perfect gifts, and keep everything running up to our expectations. Then there’s the decorations and the food and the social obligations and the family drama.

We can become overwhelmed, uninspired and a tad…Grinchy.

It’s time to let the wonder and joy BACK into your holiday season! Instead of spending the week between Christmas and New Year’s letting your old habits die hard, spend the week getting a jumpstart on the new routines and habits you hope to aspire to and resolve that first week of January!

A Week to Get Things in Line

As you enjoy Christmas, Chanukah or just the “winter break,” give yourself some respite and moments to truly bask in the wonder and joy of the holiday season. Find quiet times to reflect and do the things you find affirming and rejuvenating. This can be as simple as reading by the fire or enjoying the lights on the tree with the kids. It can mean going through your old photos or slides with family and laughing about memories. Connect, engage, laugh, and listen to those around you.

One of the most important parts of keeping up our stamina in the winter months is to get outdoors and enjoy the brisk weather. If you’re facing a very white Christmas (as we seem to be facing here in Chicago) then don’t just stow away and hibernate!

Take walks or get yourself to the gym, practice daily meditation and reflection. Stay away from soft addictions like television, too much food and drink, or even social media. How many families will be sitting around the table this season really connecting and engaging with one another and how many will be looking at their phones?

If this sounds like your crew, ask them to check their phones at the door or make a concerted effort to get everyone involved. Express your interest and make it your goal to discover something new about each person you meet over the holidays.

This week between the holidays is a great opportunity to make some reflections. What are the things you want to put to bed with the year? Are there limiting beliefs you need to let go of? What’s been holding you back?

Take some time to journal and reflect on your social and emotional growth and your thoughts for the year. Give thanks for the wonderful experiences and learning opportunities the year has brought you and the takeaways you’ll carry forward into the upcoming year. Put to rest the old ideas that no longer serve you and look at the New Year as a fresh start and a chance to launch into your best self.

Don’t Put Off Your Resolve

Just like diets, resolutions don’t work if they aren’t made up of lasting changes. When we see something as a temporary change, it just won’t stick. We have to adjust our thinking to embrace a new lifestyle or a new approach.

When we look at January 1st as the day we wake up anew, it puts an awful lot of pressure on January 2nd. If we drop the ball, the New Year is already a bust, so we might as well give up for the next 364 days, right?

Instead, don’t think of resolutions with an all-or-nothing mindset. Look at them with a growth mindset and think of how you can use mistakes and setbacks as another chance to build up your grit, change your coping strategies, and come back even stronger than before.

Growth and change don’t happen overnight. You won’t wake up as a brand new person on the first of the year with different yearnings and inclinations, or different beliefs and coping strategies. You will be the same person as before—growth and change take time. Yes, they’re constant, but rarely fast. Growth is a series of steady, progressive steps.

Focus on the changes you can make right now, today! Even if it’s not yet the New Year…even if it’s the middle of July! There’s no time like the present to jump in and decide to start to engage more deeply, to embrace more lovingly, and to live your life more fully.

This year, resolve to continue to grow and evolve all year long. Find ways you can stretch yourself and push your boundaries beyond your comfort zone, whether it’s in the office, among your friends, or with your family.

For more ways to live your life more fully, visit Wright Now. We offer an array of courses geared to help you learn more about yourself, your career, and your relationships. So don’t miss out on the life you want. Go for it now!

Make this your best year ever!
Happy Holidays from all of us at Wright.

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Wright Living is a division of the Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential, a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Living performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.