80% of New Year's Resolutions Fail. Yours Don't Have

Resolutions can be tricky!

if these resolutions look familiar, keep reading.

I’ll be honest. My hot Pilates studio has been packed lately. Ever since New Year’s, people have been cashing in on those resolutions and our classes have been at max capacity. Great for the studio owners, not so great for me as a student. And while I try do not begrudge anyone who wants to better their life, especially through fitness, I’ll admit I am looking forward to the day when all these resolution makers run out of steam.

And according to US News & World Report, that should be coming soon. The second week of February is when, USNWR says, 80% of all resolutions fail. So, while I’m certainly looking forward to more space in the studio, my coach brain can’t help but wonder about that 80%.

In my coaching practice, clients often come to me with a goal in mind, usually in times of transition. Through our work, it is not surprising when it becomes apparent that the client’s original “goal is not actually what they want to focus on—in their life, or in our coaching.

If you think about it, this is the same setup, essentially, for resolutions: the approaching new brings a transitional period where people can feel compelled to make small shifts or radical changes in their lives, sometimes just because they’re switching out their calendar. They prattle off “resolutions” to simply check a box: work out more; eat less; call their mother once a week.

These are great goals, but how does one know they’re really the RIGHT goals to get one to where they want to be? How does one even know where they want to be? How does one decide what their goals are? Often times, goals are set for us, like when it’s a work goal, but what about when we’re setting goals for ourselves?

If you set a New Year’s resolution for yourself this past January, think of what it was. What’s important to you about that goal? Why do you want to achieve that specific goal? If the answer to either of those questions wasn’t a feeling, keeping asking yourself “Why?” until you hit one.

And that right there is the key to goal setting. I went to a yoga retreat over the summer and found The Desire Map by Danielle LaPorte. If you haven’t read it, I highly suggest you do. The Desire Map introduced me to the idea of using feelings to create our goals, and if you’ve coached with me, you know this is something I talk a lot about in my practice.

Our goals are usually based on a desired feeling, whether we recognize this or not. For example, we may set the goal to run a marathon “because we want to get in shape”—but what’s really the underlying motivation? Probably an emotion we’d like to feel—confident, strong, empowered. The problem is, even though at some level, we’re determining our goals based on a desired way we’d like to feel, we’re usually not tapped into that desired feeling.

Because it’s not always that easy to admit the emotions we want to feel. Sometimes it feels embarrassing, or icky, or whatever. What if you want to work out and run that marathon to feel sexy? I CANNOT equate myself to feeling sexy. CANNOT imagine feeling sexy or being sexy. But that doesn’t mean I don’t want to feel that way.

Another reason we tend to separate emotions from goals is because (especially for women), we’re taught that goals are supposed to be “SMART”: specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bound. We’re taught that emotions are something to keep hidden, like a dirty secret. But no more! Set your feelings free!

Because if we’re not tuned into our emotions when we think about what we want to achieve, a couple things can happen:

1. We lose motivation around our goal(s) (apparently around the second week of February!)

2. We set goals that are out of sync with our actual desires, maybe because they seem more attainable, or they’re more in-line with what is expected of us, or what “we’ve always done.” When we disconnect emotion from goal setting—or fail to even consider emotions in goals at all, we are setting ourselves up to be less successful with our goals.

Figuring out how we want to feel—joyful, enthusiastic, passionate, SEXY—this is all so important to figuring out our goals. To me this makes a lot of sense-- starting with our desired feelings and then working backwards toward the actionable steps and outcomes that will lead toward those feelings. (Seriously, read The Desire Map!)

Think about a time when you set a goal, and accomplished it, but still felt shitty. Maybe it was something small—you wanted to apply to a job over the weekend—or maybe it was something big—you wanted to buy a house. Regardless of what the goal is, if you aren’t focused on how you want to feel by achieving it, you run the risk of feeling the same—or worse—when you’re done, and then what the heck was the point?

In general, we want to feel GOOD. (although our brains do like to play tricks on us to try to make us feel intentionally bad sometimes, like late at night when we get stuck in those catastrophic thinking snowballs.) But in general, the emotions we want to feel are positive ones. We want to feel positive and we are attached to the ways we want to feel—so attaching emotion to goals this give our goals soul and roots. And this is important. Because if you don’t give a shit, what’s the point? You won’t do it! You simply won’t make progress on your goal.

And it’s important to realize that emotions aren’t permanent. They come and go. Let them.

I like to think about them as unexpected houseguests: they show up, often uninvited and we are never sure exactly how long they’ll stay. For many emotions, we’re really ready for them to leave—much before they’re ready to go!

So, wherever you find yourself this week—when 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail—take a moment to think about how you want to feel this year, rather than what you want to do. Take a moment to journal, or silently reflect on how you want to feel. Once you have a sense of the feeling you want to work toward, do a gut check—do your resolutions make you feel that way? If not, why are you working on them? If they do, good on you! What do you need to keep going?

Here’s a secret: nothing in life is written in stone, especially goals and resolutions. If something stops working, stop trying to make it! If a goal you’re working to achieve no longer serves you, then stop working toward it. Your resolutions are written in pencil and you have a huge eraser—don’t be afraid to use it!


If this make sense, and you’d like a partner to help keep you accountable on your resolutions or to help you re-draft them, book a session now!

If this was confusing and you’d like to learn more, book a session now!