Baylor College of Medicine

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New Year's resolutions: Why do we give up on them so quickly?

Taylor Barnes


Houston, TX -

One week into the new year, and many have already given up on their well-intentioned New Year’s resolutions. While the reasons to say farewell to these resolutions can vary from person to person, Dr. Asim Shah, professor and executive vice chair of the Menninger Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Services at Baylor College of Medicine, shares why this happens so quickly and how people can set realistic and effective resolutions to keep for the entire year.

“It’s easy to set a resolution at the end of December or beginning of January, but studies show that 88 percent of people who set New Year resolutions fail them within the first two weeks,” said Shah.

Common resolutions include exercising more, losing weight or saving money, and Shah says that with these, people tend to go too hard, too quickly, instead of taking small steps. He explains that the number one reason people may give up is because their goals are unachievable or idealistic.
If you have already given up on your resolution, Shah says to analyze why you have given up so quickly. Could this be due to a lack of motivation or not setting the right goal?  

“We always advise making resolutions easy and achievable and starting off by making small steps,” said Shah. “Don’t jump to the big things; if you want to lose weight, make your goal weight realistic.”

He shares that resolutions are good to set for the entire year, but only if you do them right. Shah suggests to:

  • Set realistic expectations by changing one thing at a time. Also, make adjustments in your life to achieve your resolution.
  • Track your resolution to give you motivation on a monthly or weekly basis.
  • Don’t tackle your resolution alone. Encourage a friend, partner or spouse to join you on your journey.

“It’s also good to start with a short-term goal. This can give instant gratification and help give you the confidence to strive for a long-term resolution,” Shah said.

Shah shares that the best year-round resolutions that are easy to achieve should focus on your overall well-being, which includes stress and mental health, physical health and financial health.

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