The new year is here and you've hit the ground running. The question now becomes: how to you sustain progress knowing that most people fail to reach their goals?

To resolve or not to resolve--that is the question

As the holidays come to a close and the New Year rolls in many individuals find themselves in the classic post-gluttony predicament of wanting to lose weight before the beach seasons come around. That being said, if I were a betting man, I would wager that the vast majority of those individuals will not see that “resolution” through.

Why? Simple statistics actually (and I guess 25 years of perceptiveness about the human condition). A study conducted at the University of Scranton found that about 45% of American adults make at least one resolution each New Year, with the forerunners being to “lose weight” and “exercise more”. [1]

But what are the odds of success? Take a gander at the statistics below and you’ll see why I’m putting my money on most people falling short of their resolution:

Percentage of “Resolvers” (i.e. those who set a goal) that maintained their resolution as time evolved:

  • Past the first week: 75%
  • Past 2 weeks: 71%
  • After one month: 64%
  • After 6 months: 46%

As you can see, the rate of “seeing one’s goal through” drops significantly after the first month and continues to decline as time goes on. That being said, the same study also found that those who actually set a New Year’s resolution were much more likely to achieve success/resolve a problem than those who wanted to change a problem but did not actively resolve to do so.

So not all hope is lost when it comes to the setting a New Year’s resolution, and in fact the first step is to just simply have one. If you’re ready to take on your new endeavor and achieve your performance and physique goals then read on as this article will provide fixes for some common mistakes people make when it comes to a health/fitness-related New Year’s resolution.

Machine Rows

Making your fitness-related resolution stick

Below you will find a list of tips to overcome common pitfalls people tend to make when it comes to their fitness-related New Year’s resolution. While some of these tips may seem obvious, there is a reason they’re provided—because they work!

There is no secret formula or fancy tricks to success; if you want to succeed you’re going to need to get good at the basics and be consistent. If you can do those two things you’re more than prepared to achieve your resolution. Now, let’s get down to it:

Have a realistic goal!—I rarely use exclamation points, but I can’t stress enough how important it is to actually take the time to think about something you want to change in your life and committing to do so. If you just sort of passively think about a problem and hope it gets changed, chances are nothing will come of it; in fact, according to the aforementioned study, odds are 96% that those who don’t set a resolution never get around to fixing the problem they wanted fixed.

Moreover, make sure your goal is attainable for the given timeframe. All too often I hear people say they want to “shed 50lbs of fat in 5 weeks” and I just have to shake my head and let them know that isn’t going to happen. Be realistic and don’t take on more than you can handle. Wouldn’t you rather set a goal to lose 30lbs in 6 months and actually see it through versus trying to lose all that weight in 6 weeks and falling way short? I have to believe you would like the former better.

Make sure you are doing this for yourself—this sounds like a selfish attitude, but the one thing I can tell you is that setting a resolution to make an impression on anyone besides yourself is a red flag for failure.  At the end of the day, when it comes to fitness-related resolutions, you are the one that stands to benefit.

Have a plan—once you have set your goal it’s time to create an action plan. This is where many fitness aficionados get stopped dead in their tracks due to paralysis by (over)analysis. Remember, the best laid plans never enacted are always worse than a good plan acted upon now. Don’t sit around behind the computer looking for the “latest, greatest, coolest-sounding training program” when just a basic routine will do more than enough if you actually get off your rump and do it.

Set “short-term mini goals” as stepping stones—another common pitfall resolvers face is their lack of short-term goals. For example, if you have a New Year’s resolution (i.e. long-term goal) to lose 60lbs by the end of the year than you may start by setting a “mini goal” to lose 2lbs in 2 weeks. This is imperative as it creates confidence and enthusiasm so you stick to your plan.

Reward yourself when you achieve those short-term goals—oftentimes people will quit on a New Year’s resolution because they never take the time to look back on the progress they’ve made and enjoy it a bit. If you’re consistently achieving your short-term goals then don’t be afraid to treat yourself to some entertainment, clothes, food, or whatever you want. One thing to remember here is that “rewarding yourself” doesn’t translate as “eat everything in sight”; don’t go overboard, just something small will suffice (and it doesn’t have to be food either).

Be resilient—in this instance, resiliency is paramount since it is likely that you will face some setbacks on your journey. The key is to not let these obstacles weigh on you but to use them as experience and move forward.  Don’t let the term failure describe who you are. It’s okay to fail; it’s not okay to be a failure.

Hopefully these tips help the individuals out there stick to their fitness-related resolutions and finally see things through to the end. It takes hard work and dedication to change your body and performance, but in the end it’s always worth the effort.


1. Auld Lang Syne: Success predictors, change processes, and self-reported outcomes of New Year's resolvers and nonresolvers, by John C. Norcross, Marci S. Mrykalo, Matthew D. Blagys , University of Scranton. Journal of Clinical Psychology, Volume 58, Issue 4 (2002).