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Leadership Wisdom

Top 5 Reasons Why New Year Resolutions Fail after 2 Weeks

I am a type A, driven, goal-oriented, intentional leader who has a Love-Hate relationship with New Year's resolutions.


For the last few years I have resolved to not make resolutions because the failure rate in the past was so high.  This seems to be a common experience but something deep inside of us makes us want to submit ourselves to the slavish practice of swinging for the fence and not be satisfied with a base hit.

Reflecting on why my resolutions have not lasted seems to be a common experience from others.  Here are my top reasons why my resolutions have failed.

Reason #1: My resolutions are made during the break between Christmas and New Years when I am overstuffed, under exercised and have had too much time to think about myself.  It is when I am away from the battle of life that my greatest temptations come to the surface.   Reminds me of King David.

Reason #2: My resolutions are usually attempts to improve myself apart from the ongoing work of gospel sanctification which only God himself can bring about.  The remnants of the White-washed, Pharisee-made and "try harder next time" sinful nature can be a strong but ineffective motivator to write those resolutions.

Reason #3: My resolutions are motivated by a prideful comparison to men of greatness and my insecurity in who I am created to be.  I remember reading Jonathan Edward’s 70 resolutions and I wanted to open the nearest manhole and just live there for a while.  I was crushed by my smallness, my insignificance, my utter failure that I could not keep my 5 or 6 resolutions from the last year.

Reason #4:  My resolutions are fueled by my forgetfulness of my identity as a beloved son of God because of Jesus.  My puny resolutions fortify my identity when I share with friends from January 1-15 what I am going to do.  A few times in the past, my friends who really love me and took me serious asked about how those resolutions were going after January 15 and usually all 6 have fallen by the way side.  I'm thankful those same friends took me back to Jesus through waltzing with me the 1-2-3 of repentance-belief-obedience.

Reason #5: My resolutions are dependent only on me to carry it out.  I usually don't seek out someone who will engage my heart with the gospel so that I have the power to carry through over a longer period of time.  I don't access gospel accountability so when there is failure it doesn't become final.  I am experiencing the power of coaching to see real progress and lasting change.  I only wish I knew about this many years ago.

So for now I'm not making any resolutions for next year but am continuing to do the simple things in a devoted way. Where I lack devotion, I'm thankful that my Master's devotion to me is my hope.

What is your perspective of New Year's Resolutions?