The Myth of New Year Resolution Debunked

It’s JANUARY again!!!! The month of resolution and new commitments.


And now, it is already January 10! How many of you are still committed to keep your New Year’s resolutions?

As the old Chinese proverbs says: “The starting point is the toughest step of all the things we do.” Just like the launching of the a spaceship to the space, it takes a lot more power to launch the spaceship to its orbit than to maintain itself on the orbit. On the psychological point of view setting New Year’s Resolution is one of the most brilliant habits that mankind has tried to cultivate to improve our lives. Yet, most of us fail to keep it and end up not achieving anything. Let us look at the origin of making New Year’s resolutions and also why do we fail to keep it.

openarms woman

According to Doug Lennox’s Now You Know Big Book of Answers, it is believed that that the Babylonians were the first to make New Year’s resolutions 4,000 years ago. Back then, they used it to make promises with the hopes of earning good favors from their gods. Only until Julius Ceasar who officiated January 1st as the 1st day of the year, the Romans started to make New Year’s resolutions as a popular custom. Instead of setting personal goals, most of them make resolutions with a moral flavor: to be good to others.

Now, the practice of making New Year’s resolutions has become the current hype for the generations from the Z generation all the way to some of the Baby Boomers. It all thanks to The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change (25th Anniversary Edition) – Stephen R. Covey, the custom of making personal mission statements as New Year’s resolutions was popularized. “Since then, mission statements have become the cornerstone for the life and wellness coaching business. Just as sports coaches help athletes achieve larger goals, personal coaches help clients refocus their energy on personal priorities and identify the obstacles blocking from achieving goals,” penned by Tara Parker-Pope in a recent article from the New York Times’ Well blog.

According to a study by University of Scranton, the top 10 New Year’s resolutions for 2014 are:

Rank Top 10 New Years resolutions for 2014
Lose Weight
Getting Organized
Spend Less, Save More
Enjoy Life to the Fullest
Staying Fit and Healthy
Learn Something Exciting
Quit Smoking
Help Others in Their Dreams
Fall in Love
Spend More Time with Family

Thanks to the high fitness awareness in these recent years, losing weight has definitely become the most sought after personal goal for most people who set annual goals. Yet, according to the data below, there are only 8% Americans are realizing their annual resolutions on an average.  While this percentage does not necessarily reflect accurately our (Malaysians) results in achieving goals and resolution annually, we are probably not far from it.

News Years Resolution Statistics Data
Percent of Americans who usually make New Year’s Resolutions 45%
Percent of Americans who infrequently make New Year’s Resolutions 17%
Percent of Americans who absolutlely never make New Year’s Resolutions 38%
Percent of people who are successful in achieving their resolution 8%
Percent who have infrequent success 49%
Percent who never succeed and fail on their resolution each year 24%
People who explicitly make resolutions are 10 times more likely to attain their goals than people who don’t explicitly make resolutions
Type of Resolutions (Percent above 100% because of multiple resolutions) Data
Self Improvement or education related resolutions 47%
Weight related resolutions 38%
Money related resolutions 34%
Relationship related resolutions 31%
Age Success Rates Data
Percent of people in their twenties who achieve their resolution each year 39%
Percent of people over 50 who achieve their resolution each year 14%
Length of Resolutions Data
Resolution maintained through first week 75%
Past two weeks 71%
Past one month 64%
Past six months 46%

So, how do we take actions in realizing our resolutions?

In my opinion, don’t make one for the New Year. Rather, you should make a daily commitment instead on the ACTIONS you are going to fullfill your “Why” in life. (To learn more about “Why”, read Why? Why? Why?) Let’s face it! If you need January 1st to come before you decide that you want to lose your weight, you do not have a strong “Why” to sustain commitment. Successful individuals do not need a New Year to make new plans or set new goals. January 1st is just an arbitrary made official to be the first day of a year by the Romans, according to Multicultural Holidays by Julia Jasmine. Any day could be your day to make resolutions, why do you need to wait until the drawing of an arbitrary date when you normally will end up spending that day partying and getting hang over?


Well, for those who have set up your New Year’s resolution, good, you are one step away from success and failure.

Are you working diligently and persistently on a DAILY BASIS to achieve your goals in the year of 2015?

If you are, congratulations! You will probably succeed.

If you are not, I am sorry! Instead of succeeding, you will probably end up cultivating a habit of “Quiting On Your Goals”. Or, you will just achieve your goal later than you could have.

So, how do we get out of this cycle of setting and not achieving your goals?

overcoming obstacles

Referring to the book New Psycho-Cybernetics by Maxwell Maltz, our brain is designed to be goal-orientated, which goes back to the purpose, the cause or the “Why” of our lifelihood. Rather than setting a goal for the sake of following the social trend, set those goals for yourself! As written by Tara Parker-Pope in the same article mentioned, “Creating a personal mission statement is, of course, a start. The next step for anyone seeking change is to examine the obstacles that have prevented you from achieving your mission, and develop an action plan to get there.”

Most of us underestimated the obstacles and challenges we will face in order to realize our goals in life. And in order to strengthen our commitments, we have to first decide that no matter what happens in journey, we are not going to quit. No one ever fails in life until they quit!

be your own master

It has been said a thousand times in many books, studies, and research reports in different terms: “We are the average of the outer influences we invest our time and energy with”. The outer influences here include the people, the ideas, and the speeches that we invest in with our mind and body consciously or unconsciously. And 99% of us are not aware of how our actions and reactions are largely influenced by the things and the people that do not align with our personal mission statement. And guess what? Most of you stop caring about your resolutions that you have set for yourself without notice. And 10 – 15 years later, you find yourself reading your own old journal and feeling regreted that you never see your aspirations come true.

Do you want that to happen to you? (Well, we all know the answer to that.)


Do not wait for another January 1st.

No time is ever the best timing but NOW!

Do this NOW!

Stop wasting your time reading this post just to feel motivated. Get yourself started on your first resolution now.

Instead of New Year’s resolution, let us call it your Life Resolution!

matchstick_Ignition START NOW

Enjoy your journey and we hope to see you achieving your Life Resolution.

To improve your time management and to beat procastination, come check out our best-selling manual, “Never Say Later” now!

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Author: Editor

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