Why do New Year resolutions fail?

Accessing ancient oriental wisdom for practical modern living

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By Anjaan

Published: Thu 6 Jan 2022, 6:31 PM

Last updated: Thu 6 Jan 2022, 6:32 PM

Everyone’s favourite question at this time of the year is “What’s your new year resolution?” It’s the time when we go through a tremendous shift in mindsets. We think about everything we went through in the previous year and parts of our lives that we want to change. We also make resolutions in the spirit of celebration, with no real thought into what it takes to achieve them.

What is a resolution?

It is a tradition, in which you resolve to continue practices that help you grow and change undesired traits that no longer serve you.

Though resolutions can be useful to identify what you are unhappy with, it’s important to think more deeply about the real reasons you are feeling unfulfilled.

Why do resolutions fail?

Reason #1

Many New Year’s resolutions fail because you cannot control the future. Every resolution you make is a decision to change something in your future. A resolution becomes an imprisonment of your future. It becomes a trap. It’s a boundary you set for yourself looking at yourself as a limited being.

You want to decide today how your tomorrow should be and that’s not always going to work out. Why don’t you practise living spontaneously instead?

Reason #2

They fail is because you make them merely looking for a new experience, and haven’t truly committed to real change. Growth doesn’t happen by just doing something once or twice. Transforming your life needs deep self-reflection, overcoming limiting beliefs and training new habits. So why don’t you form realistic goals instead?

Reason #3

It will fail if your resolution isn’t about you! We have the tendency to make resolutions that don’t reflect what we actually want. This is mainly with dieting and exercise trends but can apply to career-related goals — affected by what other people expect of you. So instead of being influenced by family, friends and society, why don’t you look within and set goals that are unique to you?

The psychology of habit-change

According to the transtheoretical model of change, there are five basic stages before creating a change in your life (like starting a new diet or giving up a bad habit)

1. Precontemplation: You deny having a problem, but other people are concerned.

2. Contemplation: You think about the pros and cons of change.

3. Preparation: You take steps to get ready to make changes.

4. Action: You change your behaviour.

5. Maintenance: You figure out how to stick to your change over the long-term.

Resolutions don’t usually work as there are very less chances that you’re going to be ready for the action stage (Stage 4) at exactly the same time the calendar rolls over to a new year.

The Yogic practice of Sankalpa

Sankalpa is the practice of conscious intention-setting, rather than a resolution. There is less pressure to meet your expectations. Sankalpa takes the approach of intentional change rather than focusing on what you are doing wrong.

From the Sanskrit roots San, meaning “from the heart”, and Kalpa from “Kaala” meaning time, Sankalpa is an intention you set with your heart which comes through with the passage of time. This Yogic philosophy refers to a solemn vow or an intention and arises from deep self-introspection. It will be from a space of service and adding value to yourself and humanity.

Sankalpa vs. resolutions

A resolution usually is a decision to (not) do a specific behaviour, like eating junk food. Sankalpa helps you plan mini goals or a series of calculated steps to achieve results. For example, having a healthy diet could be a Sankalpa and the action steps would be to start preparing your meal plans in advance.

A heartfelt Sankalpa is the key to long-term growth. Set small goals and make dedicated action plan that has purpose, passion, vision and intention behind it.

What is your intention?

It’s easy to say you’d like a fitter body or a deeper love with your partner, but what are you really committed to doing, to make that a reality?

• Are you joining a gym to fit into the social construct “good looking”, or will you actually wake up every day motivated to work out?

• Will you just want to go on more date nights, or do you truly want to create a deeper, meaningful bond?

You don’t need resolutions

Set your Sankalpas right and you won’t need a resolution to motivate you. If your desire is fuelled by intention and followed by the right actions, you will achieve results. Real desire will make you move and motivate you for action. You don’t need an external motivation like a resolution.

I wish you strong Sankalpa for 2022. May you have abundance of everything you desire.


Connect with Anjaan across social media @MeditateWithAnjaan

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