New Year, New Me! Do New Year’s Resolutions Work?

Happy New Year 2023

While it may be difficult to pinpoint the exact origin of new year’s resolutions, it has grown to become one of the most renowned traditions of modern times. New year´s resolutions have become an integral part of the fuss and buzz that characterise every new year, along with the clichéd mantra “new year, new me”. The popularity of new year’s resolution is perhaps not surprising given that a new year provides ample opportunities for change even though this can sometimes be only psychological and equally superficial. Hence, for some, a new year is perceived as an opportunity to get rid of bad habits such as unwanted addictions, while for others, a new year provides an opportunity for picking up good habits such as reading books, regular exercise or committing to a better diet. 

As we journey through another new year full of opportunities and possibilities, a worthwhile question to examine is ´do new year’s resolutions actually work?´ In the same vein, it would be equally rewarding to examine why they fail and how to make them work. 

Do New Year Resolutions Work?

According to research, 46% of people continue with their new year’s resolutions till at least June, that is, for six months, while only a meagre 8% actually do so all through the year. This implies that 92% of people abandon their new year’s resolutions before the year runs out, with more than half doing so even before the middle of the year. Interestingly, by the end of the first week of January, about 25% of people already abandon their new year’s resolutions. The obvious question here is that if new year’s resolutions do not work, why do people keep making them? A simple answer would be that new year’s resolutions are not actually `resolutions´ in the literal sense but more of a tradition that has become an integral part of the new year’s celebration. This is however not a satisfactory answer as the idea that informs new year´s resolutions is generally a desire to change or improve certain aspects of one’s life. Hence, it is more of a plan that failed than a mere tradition. So why then do new year’s resolutions fail?

Why Do They Fail?

A number of reasons such as lack of commitment, resources or motivation can be given to explain why new year´s resolutions are often stillborn. Similarly, procrastination, laziness and setting unrealistic targets certainly do play a role in strangulating lots of new year’s resolutions. More and more can be said on why new year´s resolutions often fail, however, it would be more rewarding to briefly examine how to make the best of new year’s resolutions. In other words, how to make them work.

How can you make them work?

First and foremost, be realistic and simple. As humans, we are limited in various ways, hence, setting goals that involve extreme makeovers may be too unrealistic to achieve. Your goals should be within the confines of what is achievable based on your ability, skill and resources. To this end, keeping your new year’s resolutions short and simple would be an excellent way to go. Secondly, break down your goals into small steps that are spread out across the year. For instance, if you plan to read more books, decide on the number of books you want to complete by the end of each quarter. This way, you can easily integrate periodic assessments into your plan. Lastly, make periodic assessments during the year and adjust your plans to current realities when such becomes necessary. Your plans should be flexible enough to accommodate changes and as the year goes by, be willing to make adjustments.


In conclusion, the dawn of a new year tends to create a `fresh-start effect´ in the minds of many, which induces us to want to make big and important changes in our lives. However, it is important to always keep in mind that our life is on a continuum. Hence a new year is better perceived as an opportunity for reflection and positive improvement, which can of course be gradual. 

Happy new year and welcome to 2023!

©Fatherland Gazette

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