Why Resolutions Fail, And How You Can Achieve Your Goals Without Them

Why Resolutions Fail, And How You Can Achieve Your Goals Without Them

It’s that time of year, when people start to take stock of what they accomplished throughout 2018.  And upon reflecting on the year, many realize that they didn’t achieve their goals and dreams for yet another year. Probably not a fraction of what they hoped to accomplish. So what happens?  December 31 will arrive, and people will make the same or very similar New Year’s Resolutions year after year – which never come to fruition.

What is a New Year’s Resolution, anyway? According to the Cambridge Dictionary it is a promise that you make to yourself to start doing something good or stop doing something bad on the first day of the year.  And that usually lasts, how long?  A week, a month, tops?  New Year’s Resolutions don’t work for several reasons:

  • They are dangling in the middle of nowhere – meaning that they are not part of a larger VISION.
  • They just sound nice on paper – meaning there is no real PLAN OF ACTION around achieving them
  • They are outside of a person’s COMFORT ZONE – meaning there is a deep seeded unconscious fear around actually achieving them.

Let’s start with number one – A Vision is a big picture goal. Attaining a vision may include achieving several or many goals along the way (some you may be aware of and others you may not realize until you are upon them.)   A vision could be something like getting your dream job, buying a home, inventing something new, creating a beautiful relationship, losing 20 or more pounds, getting healthy, stopping smoking, etc.  And guess what? When you achieve your vision, well, it’s time to create a new one.  That’s the best part – a lot of us get hung up on holding back on achieving the vision because that would mean… now what do I do with my life?  But it’s not so, we get the opportunity to create more than one vision. Hooray!

Goals are the steps that we take to achieve the vision.  The easiest way to begin to achieve all of this is to start with smaller goals that will be part of the vision.  So number two, there needs to be an organized plan of action in order to set goals and track them.

My recommended Plan of Action is to set several small attainable, S.M.A.R.T goals and one difficult stretch goal.  A S.M.A.R.T. goal is defined as one that is specific, measurable, achievable, results-focused, and time- bound.  Goals should be simply written and clearly define what you are going to do.  Let’s say your vision is to lose 20 pounds a couple of S.M.A.R.T. goals could be:

  • By January 15 (TIME BOUND), join a gym (SPECIFIC), and commit to going a minimum of 3 days per week for the entire year (MEASUREABLE). This would also be Results-Focused and Achievable.
  • By February 1, (TIME BOUND) make an appointment with a nutritionist (SPECIFIC) and set up a year-long (MEASUREABLE) healthy eating plan (RESULTS-FOCUSED) for my body type. Achievable.

Now the more difficult goal is the “stretch goal.” A stretch goal pushes limits, is difficult to achieve and, most importantly, takes you outside of your “comfort zone.”  A potential stretch goal for losing 20 pounds might be:

  • Book a vacation to the Bahamas in December of next year, and fit into and wear a brand new Bikini

Why would this be defined as a stretch goal?  If you hadn’t worn a Bikini in many years, this would definitely be outside of your current comfort zone.  When was the last time you took a vacation?  There is also the investment of money in the vacation, as well as the disappointment you may feel if you book the trip and don’t fit into that bikini.  Lots of discomfort around this goal!!  And that is why it’s important to set up the smaller S.M.A.R.T goals first.  It’s like running a long distance marathon, where you hand the baton to the next runner.  One goal gets you to the next to the next and then finally the home stretch goal.

But I haven’t told you the secret sauce yet.  This is number three

The biggest reason that people do not achieve their New Year’s Resolutions is because there is a deep seated subconscious fear around attaining them.  What does that mean? Well, if we take the example of wanting to lose 20 pounds, perhaps the subconscious reason that the person never attains the goal is because the 20 pounds is hiding the person from being “seen” (figuratively) by others.  If the person was average, ordinary and regular, then she would be much better at being “invisible.”

Perhaps the person has been carrying this extra weight her entire life, so being “thinner” would “feel” very exposed, vulnerable, and open.  Yikes! What would happen if people started paying a lot of attention to this person, and putting her on a pedestal, and looking to her for advice?  This might be wayyyyyyy out of her comfort zone. Because her comfort zone, is to be “invisible,” unnoticed, to blend in with the herd.  And that, my friends, is the real reason most New Year’s Resolutions never make it past January. Don’t believe it?  I’ll tell you more…

99% of human beings are being run on a daily basis by their subconscious minds.  I’ll give you an example: when you get up in the morning and get ready for the day, you probably have a routine you are familiar with and don’t think about how to get into the shower, make the coffee, put your clothes on, etc.  Your mind is busy thinking about a million other things, and yet you do get ready and get out of the house on auto pilot. You are getting ready every morning, being driven by your subconscious mind that knows really well how to get you ready without you having to think much about it.

Most of our lives are being driven by this.  You see, we all have something called an “ego” and its entire function is to keep us safe and alive.  From a very young age, it starts filing information away, as “good or bad.”  Everything labeled “Good” is the mask we wear to show the world how wonderful we are and everything labeled “Bad” goes into our subconscious and we can’t see it anymore. But we do still see these “Bad” things reflected in others around us and usually they are the things that piss us off the most.

These are also called “limiting beliefs.” Beliefs that we have deep inside that we think are definitive.  But, the only person who makes them definitive is… us.  We do this every single day. I’m sure you witness people you know that are constantly self-sabotaging themselves.  They are on a path towards their dreams and then boom… suddenly they take a left hand turn and blow it. This is the subconscious mind at work.

Next – think about your Vision, Goals and your past New Year Resolution and look at your current RESULTS.  What are your results?  Start to think about the voice in your head that pops up and what it is saying when you come close to achieving your goals or vision.  Is there something there that is an “absolute” that is “just because” or does your mind say “Yeah, but….”  I’d recommend writing some of these things down.   Start to process it in that sense.  For example, the voice may say, “Whenever, I start to lose weight, my family makes all sorts of comments, it makes me feel uncomfortable.”  The person is uncomfortable with attention and being “visible” – that is what is sitting in the subconscious mind.

Next! Taking action is what gives us the tools and the answers we need to make adjustments and to finally achieve our vision & goals.  It’s actually an amazing process, because if we use the technique to grow, learn and free our minds, then every result we get is a result we can use to get closer to what we want to achieve.  Our mindsets move from “Why can’t I get this thing that I want??” to that of a scientist in a lab.  “Hmm…this is my result, OK, let me make some adjustments and try again.”

I love the Thomas Edison Quote “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won‘t work.”  We are never failing, – let that sink in- we are never failing – we are always working towards our vision and our results are the roadmap to help get us there.  Anything we do is taking action. Even doing nothing is actually taking an action.  And it’s imperative to find the subconscious patterns that are creating the limited thinking. This is a huge part of the Plan of Action.

I really, really want you all to be successful this coming new year!  So, let’s put it all together!!  Your new Plan of Action around New Year’s Resolutions is…

  • Make a New Year’s Resolution that supports your larger Vision
  • Create several small, achievable S.M.A.R.T goals
  • Write down one difficult stretch goal that takes you out of your comfort zone
  • Discover your subconscious patterns that have been holding you back from actually achieving your vision and goals
  • Take Action every day to achieve your Plan

If you follow these steps, I know I will be seeing you in that Bikini in December in the Bahamas… or whatever else it is you want to achieve. The world is your oyster, go take it!  Happy New Year!


Joanne Newborn

Joanne Newborn is a Marketing Director with the World’s largest Spirits Company. She holds degrees from Penn State, Pace, and The Neighborhood Playhouse School of Theatre. She's on her way to becoming a Certified Jungian with the Academy of Spiritual Psychology. Her Coaching business, Newborn Evolution, focuses on cultivating Leadership. She can be reached at @NewbornEvolution on Facebook or joanne@newbornevolution.com

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