New Year’s Resolutions: Why They Don’t Work + How to Make Your Goals a Reality

From the moment the clock strikes 12 on New Year's Eve, people all around the world make a monumental effort to make a change in their lives, setting a goal or even several goals to accomplish for the new year.

These goals are commonly known as New Year’s Resolutions, and many people participate in making them. Why not use a new year as a clean slate to start your “perfect happy healthy” life? 

Well, the only issue with this is that a great chunk of individuals don’t end up accomplishing their goals, many giving up after the first week of January. According to the New York Post, “it takes just 32 days for the average person to finally break their resolution(s) [by February 1st]— but 68% report giving up their resolutions even sooner than that.” 

Habits and SMART Goals

It takes everyone a different amount of time to create a habit, but according to, the average amount of time to create a habit is 66 days. That is about 9.5 weeks. 

Creating good habits is important when trying to accomplish a resolution. Once you get used to the new changes you have set for yourself, they’ll start to come naturally.

However, that’s an issue when people stop working towards their resolutions after just a week or two! This is probably one of the biggest factors in why people give up on their resolutions, they stop trying before giving it a chance.

There are several reasons that could contribute to why many people give up so quickly, including making unrealistic or unattainable goals, lack of discipline, and the absence of a plan. 

One way to make sure your goal will become a reality in 2023 is to follow an acronym called SMART.

S stands for specific. When setting your resolution, make sure to not be vague. For example, if your goal is to lose weight, instead of just saying “lose weight” change it to something more specific like “lose 20 pounds.” This will make your goal more simple and straightforward for yourself and therefore more easy to follow through. If you don’t know exactly what you want, how can you achieve it? 

M stands for measurable. In other words, track your progress! According to, “[a study] found that prompting participants to monitor their progress toward a goal increased the likelihood that the participants would achieve that goal. Furthermore, the more frequent the monitoring, the greater the chance of success.” There are different ways you can track your progress, one idea being keeping a notebook and reflecting on how you are doing on the goal once a week, and your progress. This will keep you motivated and focused on your resolution!

A stands for attainable. When setting your resolution, make sure it is something that is actually possible for you to achieve. If it is something so huge that you cannot see yourself doing, it may cause you extra pressure and stress because of the fear of failure, and therefore quitting on it. Create more attainable goals for yourself and you will be more apt to stick with them. 

R stands for realistic, or sometimes relevant, depending on who you ask. This means making sure that your resolution makes sense for your life and is important to you. Just because someone else has a certain goal doesn’t mean it'll be the same for you. Pick something that fits you and what you prioritize in your life. 

Lastly, T stands for time. Do you tend to procrastinate with schoolwork? It’s normal, everyone has at least once, but when you know the deadline is soon, you pick up the pace and get it done. This is why it is so important to set a time frame for your goals! Without having a “due date” you might not feel as pushed to work towards your goal. In the case of New Year’s resolutions, the time frame would typically be by the next year. However, if it is something that you think can happen sooner, set a date! Why not try? 

By using these steps to create your resolution, the hope is that one can stick with it longer and create that new habit that is needed to accomplish your resolution.


Although making sure your resolutions are better by following the acronym SMART, there are other alternatives to setting resolutions for the New Year. 

One other idea is to instead just pick one word you would like to remember and base your year on. Some people find this as a better option as opposed to New Year's resolutions. It’s more simple and easy to remember than a huge intimidating goal. 

All you have to do is choose a word that you would like to be your focus for the year (for example: balance, positive, grow, prioritize) and then you can either write it down on paper and decorate it however you’d like, or make it on google slide. You want to make sure it is in sight on a daily basis so that you can be reminded of your word. 

You can stop there, or go a step further and write about some specific ways you can fulfill this word for the year on the back of the paper or on another slide. 

The idea of having a “one word” for the New Year is gaining popularity especially here at Costa Mesa High School. During the first staff meeting of the year, teachers and staff participated in choosing their own one-words. They wrote it on a paper heart that was then hung up to remind them.

Furthermore, some English teachers here at Mesa had their students make their one-word resolutions during class as one of their first assignments for the new year.


Whether you would rather have a goal to work towards for 2023 or one word to base your year on, both types of resolutions are a good way to start the year off on the right foot. 

Good luck and Happy New Year!