Success with Resolutions

The new year is off to a great start, and I hope you have all written your goals for the year.

I want to share an important insight around resolutions and goals.

It has to do with failure.

How many times do people set goals or resolutions and then fail? A poll taken in 2008 by author Stephen Shapiro and the Opinion Corporation of Princeton, NJ, brings us these statistics:


  • 45% of Americans usually set New Year’s Resolutions; 17% infrequently set resolutions; 38% absolutely never set resolutions.
  • Only 8% of people are always successful in achieving their resolutions. 19% achieve their resolutions every other year.  49% have infrequent success.  24% (one in four people) NEVER succeed and have failed on every resolution every year. That means that 3 out of 4 people almost never succeed.

Of those who do set resolutions (these add to more than 100% because some people set multiple resolutions):

  • 34% set resolutions related to money
  • 38% set resolutions related to weight
  • 47% set resolutions related to self-improvement or education
  • 31% set resolutions related to relationships

It appears that the younger you are, the more likely you are to achieve your resolutions

  • 39% of those in their twenties achieve their resolutions every year or every other year
  • Less than 15% of those over 50 achieve their resolutions every year or every other year

The less happy you are, the more likely you are to set New Year’s Resolutions.  This is especially true for those who set money-related resolutions:

  • 41% are not happy, 34% are moderately happy, and 25% are happy.
  • There is no correlation between happiness and resolution setting/success.  People who achieve their resolutions every year are NO happier than those who do not set resolutions or who are unsuccessful in achieving them.

So let’s talk about the failure part.

Setting goals is not a yes/no, on/off, right/wrong, all or nothing proposition. When setting goals for the new year, think of it more as a choice for a better lifestyle rather than rules of deprivation. You are setting a new pattern or trend leading toward a more desireable  state of being.

If you encounter a set back, or make a mistake, along the way, rather than seeing it as a failure and giving up, see it as more information. Now you know more about yourself and about the challenge.

For instance, you are committed to quit smoking. After a few weeks of diligent non-smoking, you find yourself with a cigarette between your lips. Don’t assume you have failed and just start smoking a pack a day.

Take the time to figure out what triggered this bump in the road. Learn as much as you can about yourself and about that trigger, and then go back to not smoking again.

It is just information – not a cause for failure! You found out what doesn’t work, now get back to what does work.

I wish you all the best in moving towards your new state of being in the world – healthier, wealthier, happier, and wiser!