The Good, Bad, and Ugly of New Year’s Resolutions

Resolutions: The Good, Bad, and Ugly

Ah, the New Year’s Resolution. It’s so earnest. So optimistic.

So likely to fail.

According to the Statistic Brain Research Institute, more than 40% of Americans set New Year’s Resolutions, but fewer than 10% report feeling success in achieving their resolutions. More than one-quarter of resolutions are abandoned within the first week, and nearly half are discarded after one month.

And while age might come with wisdom, it (statistically speaking) doesn’t appear to come with willpower. People over age 50 are significantly less likely to achieve a New Year’s resolution compared with people in their twenties.

The most common New Year’s resolution is to eat healthier and/or lose weight. Getting more exercise, general self-improvement, quitting smoking, and spending more time with friends/family are also common themes.

If so few people follow through on resolutions, why should anyone bother making them?

The answer: In spite of the depressing statistics on achievement and follow-through, there’s one more statistic from this data set that stands out, big time:

People who explicitly make resolutions are ten times more likely to attain their goals than people who didn’t explicitly make resolutions.


So you might have set a resolution and neglected to follow through, but if you’re not making a resolution at all, it’s a pretty safe bet that nothing positive is going to change.

The lesson here: Whether you want to classify it as a “resolution” or a “goal,” and whether or not you want to associate it with January 1st, having a clear picture of want you want to achieve is critical.

And yet, clearly, setting a goal isn’t a golden ticket to success.

How do we start out with such positive intentions and yet fail to follow through, year after year?

And what can we do differently?

We’ll talk about that next time. Stay tuned.

(Psst—you don’t need to wait for the next blog post to talk about setting and achieving goals. The staff at the Saint Paul Athletic Club and University Club of Saint Paul are ready to talk to you any time.)