Why Some People Achieve Their New Year's Resolutions While Others Don't

Is exercising more one of your New Year's resolutions this year? Will you be able to follow through with it? Discover how important motivation and discipline are to meeting your goals!
Why Some People Achieve Their New Year's Resolutions While Others Don't

Last update: 09 March, 2020

Exercising more is one of the most popular New Year’s resolutions. Almost everyone who makes resolutions wants to lose weight. That’s why it isn’t strange for gyms to be full of new members and streets to be full of joggers and cyclists during the first weeks of the year.

This strong desire that we all tend to start out the new year with is a product of motivation. However, it’s a type of motivation that tends to fade as time goes by. Thus, what allows some people to achieve their resolutions while others give up after a few weeks?

David McClelland was a psychology professor at Harvard University. As he states so clearly in his book Human Motivation, the motivation to fulfill a goal stems from an initial desire. That desire is the excitement of acquiring a new skill or the pleasant feeling of progress.

A man worried about fulfilling his New Year's resolutions.

But why is discipline so hard for many people who want to reach their New Year’s resolutions?

You need discipline to achieve your goals

You need to keep in mind that, when you start out the year, you’re just revving up after a holiday period. You’re well-rested and full of motivation to do new things. In addition, you’ll probably get the “new year feeling” that’s begging you to make changes.

But there’s… the soreness, the lack of visible changes, work stress… more soreness, responsibilities… All of this starts to weigh on you after about two months.

That’s when you forget about all this exercise stuff. Instead, you start to think of excuses; it’s raining, you’re cold, or you’re sick. Little by little, your initial resolve starts to fade away. On top of all of this, if you haven’t made changes to your diet, you probably won’t be able to notice any visible changes in your body. That can frustrate anybody and make them throw in the towel without a second thought. You can avoid all of these valleys through discipline.

Discipline is a group of rules and standards that you adhere to because it makes you feel good or because you have to. For example, you brush your teeth every morning when you wake up. Most people do this regardless of how lazy they feel in the morning. This is discipline, and you can apply the same principles to sports as well. “How?” you ask? The first and most important step is to slowly start to incorporate it into your daily life.

How can you stay motivated and achieve your New Year’s resolutions?

The thing that makes some people fulfill their New Year’s resolutions is ongoing motivation. That’s why you shouldn’t lose sight of your goals. Here are some tips to help keep you working out throughout the year:

  • Firstly, choose an activity you like. It doesn’t have to be running. Instead, you could opt for yoga, spinning, or even just taking a short walk every night after work. It’s impossible to feel motivated and be disciplined if you have to do something you don’t like doing. There are many options to choose from!
  • Also, start little by little. You can’t develop a habit in a couple of days. It’s important to start making gradual changes. For example, you could start going to the gym twice a week. After a month, you could add another day to this habit and keep going on like that. That way, it’ll start to become a part of your life.
  • Thirdly, meet other people who like to exercise. If you sign up for group classes or you go running along the same path every day, you may start to get to know the people you see every day. You could start exercising together. And who knows? You might even develop friendships with them.

“You’ll never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.”

-John C. Maxwell-

All of this advice is going to be essential to gaining that level of discipline. Only with this discipline will you finally be able to join the ranks of people who fulfill their New Year’s resolutions. Additionally, as time goes on, you’ll start to see real changes. You’ll start to see yourself losing weight and feeling better. A six-pack might even start to form on your midsection. This, in turn, is going to inspire you to keep at it.

A person running on the road.

Despite the fact that motivation allows you to make decisions and start taking the first steps toward exercising, only discipline will push you to achieve your New Year’s resolutions. Obviously, you aren’t always going to feel motivated to work out. Sometimes, the time won’t seem right either.

But how many times have you gotten over your inertia and, after having finished your work out, you feel great? Don’t let this year turn into another period of frustrated failed attempts. You can make exercise a lifetime habit!

Make the right choice, start slow, and be patient. If you stay disciplined, you’ll learn firsthand why some people fulfill their New Year’s resolutions and others don’t and you’ll be able to achieve yours!

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Dosil, J. (2004). Psicología de la actividad física y del deporte. Madrid: McGraw-Hill.
  • Moreno Murcia, J. A., Alonso Villodre, N., Martínez Galindo, C., & Cervelló Gimeno, E. (2005). Motivación, disciplina, coeducación y estado de flow en educación física: Diferencias según la satisfacción, la práctica deportiva y la frecuencia de práctica. Cuadernos de Psicología del Deporte, vol 5, nº 1-2, 2005.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.