7 Reasons Your New Year’s Resolutions Go Up In Flames (And How to Change That)

new year's

So we’re just a few weeks into a brand new year, and you may already be watching your best intentions go up in flames.

If you know the feeling, you’re not alone. Over 80% (some studies say up to 92%) of New Year’s resolutions fail.

Why?

I mean, you try, but it seems so difficult to actually make progress in life and leadership. And before you know it, this year feels exactly like last year. Except maybe worse, because you’re actually busier than you were before.

So, maybe

You’re behind at work.

You’re back to eating pizza.

Your calendar is already out of control.

You missed the gym twice last week.

You promised you wouldn’t bring work home but you didn’t tuck your kids into bed more than twice last week.

You’re no further ahead on those big projects either.

And, you’re wondering how you’re going to get it all done and not sacrifice your family or your health.

What’s going on?

Here’s the reality.

This year will be exactly the same as last year unless you change more than your intention.

I’d love to show you how.

It would be great to crush your New Year’s resolutions not once, wouldn’t it? And maybe develop a system for repeating that year after year.

Here are 7 reasons most people fail at their new year’s resolutions, and some practical help on how to reverse that.

This year will be exactly the same as last year unless you change more than your intention. Click To Tweet

1. Your system isn’t designed for the demands you’re facing

Believe it or not, you have a system. Even if you can’t name it, describe it or identify it, you do.

As the adage goes, your current system is perfectly designed to give you the results you’re getting. And let’s get really honest: if you can’t name your system or describe it, it’s probably a bad one.

Every leader has a system, and if you can't name it or describe it, it's probably a bad one. Click To Tweet

If you look at highly effective leaders, you’ll realize they have also system. It’s an intentional system. They design it. They tweak it. They understand it. And they’re constantly changing it so it keeps up with the demands that life and leadership keep putting on them.

What a lot of leaders don’t realize is that your system has to keep changing to produce better results in life and leadership because the world keeps changing, your job keeps changing and your family keeps changing.

If you have another baby, that changes your reality massively. Yet most people don’t intentionally overhaul their approach to leadership to cope with it (life…yes, but leadership, no, except for thinking Now I have to get more done in less time, which is not an overhaul).

Or if your church or organization grows or you add staff or responsibility to your plate…that means your old system (even if it was a bad one) will simply fail to keep up.

When I was a young leader, my system was “more people equals more hours”  and “don’t worry, I can handle it.”

That was a terrible system to begin with and, eventually, it led me into full-on burnout a decade into my leadership.

Your system is actually a key to your success. If you don’t change your system, success is almost impossible to achieve.

By the way, if you don’t read all the way through this post and want a new system, click here. I’ll share with you the system that changed everything for me and has now helped thousands of leaders get their life and leadership back.

Moving along, here’s another reason resolutions fail.

Your system is actually a key to your success. If you don't change your system, success is almost impossible to achieve. Click To Tweet

2. Resolutions are essentially intentions

The problem I had early on in making resolutions is that my resolutions were intentions. They were things I wanted to do, but I actually had no plan on how to accomplish them.

What’s lacking for many people is a strategy.

Your strategy, not your intention, determines your success. Many people intend to spend more time with their family, to be less scattered at work, to manage their time better, to ensure their top priories get accomplished, but they haven’t found a strategy to get them to that place.

When you look at your resolutions, ask yourself: what’s my strategy?

No strategy = almost guaranteed failure.

And even if you succeed, it likely means your success was a fluke, or grace, or accidental. Which also means it’s impossible to reproduce or scale.

Your strategy, not your intention, determines your success. No strategy = guaranteed failure almost every time. Click To Tweet

3. Other people hijack your priorities

So maybe you’ve moved beyond just intentions and started working on a system.

But then life happens. Your phone starts buzzing. People knock on your door or hover over your cubicle.

Everybody just needs five minutes of your time, but by the end of the day, you realize that various people took all your time. And you’re way further behind than you were at 8 a.m.

Everybody just needs five minutes of your time, but by the end of the day you realize that various people took all your time. Click To Tweet

Often we design our systems to work in perfect conditions, and life is anything but perfect conditions.

One of the key problems leaders face is this, the steady stream of emails, texts, phone calls, knocks on the door and interruptions.

Here’s what’s contained in every single one of those incoming communications: someone else’s priorities.

Tell me if this isn’t true: No one ever asks you to accomplish your priorities. They only ask you to accomplish theirs.

If you’re a preacher, nobody emails or texts you to ask you to write a killer message. Nobody cancel’s their meeting with you and says “Just thought you should have more prep time.”

If you’re an entrepreneur working on a key project, how many times does anyone text you and say “Hey, I want to give you three hours of focused, uninterrupted time to get it done. Let’s reschedule our week?”

You need to be the champion of your priorities. Nobody else will be.

No one ever asks you to accomplish your priorities. They only ask you to accomplish theirs. Click To Tweet

4. You’ve added, but not subtracted

Often when you want to do better, you add things to your ever-more complex life. That’s what goals and resolutions are by nature: additions.

And when you do that, you sabotage your success.

Let’s be honest, adding to your life is easier than subtracting until you hit the wall of overwhelm. Not only do you get completely overwhelmed, but you also diminish the value of everything you’re trying to do.

As Craig Groeschel put it, if everything’s important, nothing’s important. If everything’s a priority, nothing’s a priority.

If everything's important, nothing's important. If everything's a priority, nothing's a priority. @craiggroeschel Click To Tweet

Leaders who reach their goals are better at subtraction than addition. They subtract more things from their life than they add.

After all, you’re probably only truly great at one or two things. Focus more of your time on those, and cut things that are average to good.

Subtraction is often more powerful than addition when it comes to accomplishment.

Leaders who reach their goals are better at subtraction than addition. They subtract more things from their life than they add. Click To Tweet

5. You haven’t looked at your patterns

At the heart of your system (whether it’s intentional or not) is patterns.

If you really study your everyday life, it really consists of repeated patterns. You likely do the same thing every morning as soon as you get up.

You follow the same routine most days at work, and your weeks and seasons have a rhythm to them.

This is true of everything from the hour you start work, when you take meetings, when you eat your meals, how you answer emails, how you reply to texts, to the settings you allow on your phone (do you ever turn it off on purpose?). This is all patterned behaviour.

Even if you say, No, I like to change it up, I resist patterns, wonderful. You have a pattern of random chaos.

The question is: are your patterns helping you or hurting you?

If you have unrealized goals and dreams, your patterns are hurting you, not helping you. Because if your patterns supported your dreams, you would have accomplished them.

Any system you have that doesn’t stack your daily patterns in your favour is bound to make you lose. Don’t miss that.

If you have unrealized goals and dreams, your patterns are hurting you, not helping you. Because if your patterns supported your dreams, you would have accomplished them. Click To Tweet

6. You left your calendar out of the equation

Open your calendar.

Do you see your goals scheduled right into the rhythm of your every day?

Probably not.

An amazing thing happens when you decide to schedule your dreams daily: they happen.

One of the biggest changes I made after I burned out 13 years ago was to completely redesign my calendar according to repeating patterns that help me accomplish my goals.

If you’d like to learn more, here’s exactly how to do it.

An amazing thing happens when you decide to schedule your dreams daily: they happen. Click To Tweet

7. You’re going it alone

There’s a strange paradox happening in our culture. Thanks to technology, we’ve never been more connected. Yet talk to most leaders, and they’ve never felt more alone.

It’s hard to make changes that stick when you’re isolated.

Tomorrow (January 22nd), for the very first time, I’m offering live team coaching with the next release of the High Impact Leader course. It’s not available today, but tomorrow it will be for a very limited time.

Here’s the principle: When you get others committed in your progress, you make more progress.

When you get others committed in your progress, you make more progress. Click To Tweet

Get Your Life Back

Don’t let your New Year’s resolutions go up in flames. It’s not too late…really.

But what you likely need is a better system. So…some help.

The High Impact Leader course is an online, on-demand course designed to help you get time, energy and priorities working in your favour.

You can complete the three-hour course at your own pace. It’s the most comprehensive content I’ve ever created for leaders to help you reclaim HOURS every day so you can become more effective at work and more present at home. When your time, energy, and priorities are all working together for you, it’ll impact everything you do.

  • You become a better leader, because you’re doing what you do best when you’re at your best
  • You become a better spouse, because you’re focused at home
  • You become a better parent, neighbor, and friend, because you actually have time off to relax and engage

These principles will free you to thrive in every area of your life.   

You can learn more and gain instant access today.

Remember, if you change you, you change everything.

If you change you, you change everything. Click To Tweet

What Kills Your Resolve?

What reasons have you seen that sabotage your New Year’s resolutions?

Scroll down and leave a comment!

1 Comment

  1. Chet Bergeron on January 21, 2019 at 11:49 am

    I have a family of 5 and transitioning into a senior pastor position after being full-time staff at a large church for 5 years. I am stoked to produce my calendar from the template you pushed out! This will help me to love my family and lead the way God wants me to. Thanks! Once again, great content.

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