Dropping the ball: Why New Year's resolutions constantly fail and how to get them to stick in 2023

Research indicates that people tend to abandon their resolutions by January 19th
gym new year's resolution
Posted at 6:49 AM, Dec 28, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-28 07:54:47-05

CLEVELAND, Ohio — How do you get a New Year's resolution to actually stick long term? Is it even worth making one? These are the questions we seemingly ask ourselves every time this year.

With New Year's Eve right around the corner, so many of us are looking to start off 2023 on the right foot.

However, researchers say we actually unknowingly make the same resolution year after year.

Experts say the key to success is setting a realistic intention and realizing you don't have to wait until the new year to make it happen.

The ball dropping in Times Square and champagne toasting to a new year with friends and family often signifies the end of one chapter and the start of something new.

Each year, millions of us create a New Year's resolution, hoping to make a positive, lasting change.

“I like it. It’s something to look forward to. But whoever really keeps one?” asked Tiara Harris, of Cleveland.

According to Cleveland Clinic Clinical Psychologist Dr. Susan Albers, the success rate is not so great.

"Research indicates that people tend to give up, abandon their resolutions by January 19," Albers said.

In the days ahead—prepare for gyms and workout facilities to be jam-packed with newly-enrolled members looking to make lifestyle changes and get fit.

Brendan Hogan admits that's his resolution.

"I'm just gonna start small and try and grow throughout the year. So small steps with big leaps later on," Hogan said.

Albers says change is a process, so be realistic with your intentions and don't always focus on a number.

We have to give ourselves time to undo and reset old habits.

"Instead of saying, 'I want to lose "X" amount of weight,' focus on the behaviors, the process that you could do every day — instead of focusing on weight loss that is sometimes out of our control," Albers said.

Like so many of us, Harris's intention is one involving finances.

"What goal are you setting?" we asked.

"To buy a house!" Harris said.

Albers says when it comes to saving money for a vacation, a home or a car, take notes daily.

Frequent reminders create habits.

"Keep[ing] data using your phone or a journal can be very helpful in tracking your progress. Looking back to see your success is naturally reinforcing," Albers said.

Albers says resolutions often fail because:

  • They're too vague.
  • They're not realistic or sustainable.
  • We fail to identify the actual obstacles.

She says if you feel burnt out over the whole New Year's resolution process—focus on the bigger picture to a better you from all aspects of life.

"This year, many people are prioritizing their mental health instead of making goals around weight loss. They are making goals such as: get off of their social media, or to meditate on more things that are going to help with their self-care and taking care of their mental health," Albers said.

"Some people like to pick up new hobbies. Be more sociable. Sometimes that plays into wellness, but mostly just be healthy. Everybody wants to feel better," Hogan said.

Dr. Albers says instead of focusing on a specific weight loss total—focus on overall behavior changes.

Research shows your success rate will skyrocket if you have someone to support you and challenge your needs.

Consider getting more steps each day or incorporating additional fruits and vegetables into your diet.

In addition, get a buddy. Grab a friend or partner as a support system and someone to hold you accountable.