new years resolutions

New Year's Resolutions why is it so difficult for us to comply with them?

When people want to make a change in their lives, they often start planning goals, such as changing jobs, quit smoking, buying a house, getting married, losing weight, and they refer to this as “a new beginning”. The season most chosen for this “new beginning” is during the new year’s.

A few weeks ago we started the 2023 year with the hope of making the New Year’s resolutions a reality, but why is it so difficult for us to comply with them?

Studies made over this subject, which are limited, mention the following factors as why it is so difficult for us to comply with them:

  • Weakness in self-control.
  • Lack of willingness.
  • Resistance to a change.
  • Goals difficult to achieve.
  • People commonly “giving up” for the first month.

New Year’s resolutions commonly require for people to take action consistent with their goals to keep track of obstacles and delays.

There are two mechanisms that could be involved in the compliance:

  • Flexibility of goals: it refers to the ability to see obstacles calmly and to adjust in the way in which it will be accomplished as required. 
  • Tenacity of goals: it is defined as perseverance in striving to achieve the desired goal under difficult circumstances. 

The new year’s resolutions for people sometimes reflect cyclical goals that are “recycled” each new year. This may indicate that people choose past resolutions because they are difficult, and therefore fail to fulfill them. Compliance is more likely to happen, if specific new year’s resolutions are set by suggesting strategies and plans necessary to help sustain and successfully achieve and to promote the well-being, as opposed to resolutions that are vague or abstract.


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Rössner, S. M., Hansen, J. V., & Rössner, S. (2011). New Year’s resolutions to lose weight–dreams and reality. Obesity Facts, 4(1), 3–5. https://doi.org/10.1159/000324861

Dickson, J. M., Moberly, N. J., Preece, D., Dodd, A., & Huntley, C. D. (2021). Self-regulatory goal motivational processes in sustained New Year resolution pursuit and mental wellbeing. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 18(6), 3084. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18063084

Oscarsson, M., Carlbring, P., Andersson, G., & Rozental, A. (2020). A large-scale experiment on New Year’s resolutions: Approach-oriented goals are more successful than avoidance-oriented goals. PLOS ONE, 15(12), e0234097.  https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0234097

Marlatt, G. A., & Kaplan, B. E. (1972). Self-Initiated Attempts to Change Behavior: A Study of New Year’s Resolutions. Psychological Reports, 30(1), 123-131.  https://doi.org/10.2466/pr0.1972.30.1.123

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