What Percentage Of New Year's Resolutions Fail

What Percentage Of New Year’s Resolutions Fail?

Published on: December 3, 2023
Last Updated: December 3, 2023

What Percentage Of New Year’s Resolutions Fail?

Published on: December 3, 2023
Last Updated: December 3, 2023

New Year’s resolutions are very common in the United States, but people make “promises” or “resolutions” to themselves in other countries as well. 

The problem doesn’t come from making resolutions, but rather from keeping them. 

Each year, people have the best intentions hoping to be better than they were in the previous year(s).

This article will address New Year’s resolutions, some statistics, demographics, and discuss what percentage of New Year’s resolutions fail.

Let’s explore the world of New Year’s resolutions.

Resource Contents show

Key Statistics

  • Research revealed that in 2022, 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail.
  • In 2022, 63% of people said they never made a New Year’s resolution.
  • 58% of Survey respondents in the UK said they would make New Year’s resolutions for 2023.
  • In the 1980s, roughly 40% of research volunteers kept their New Year’s resolutions beyond 6 months.
  • Another study from the 1990s of 159 volunteers showed 40% kept resolutions.
  • In 2020, Professor Per Carlbring said that how you phrase your New Year’s resolution is important.
  • Another professor in the UK said vague “promises” often fail early.
  • 80% of Americans are confident they can reach their New Year’s resolutions goals.
  • Only 22% of survey participants stuck to their New Year’s resolutions in 2023.
  • The top New Year’s resolutions for 2024 involve fitness.

What Percentage Of New Year’s Resolutions Fail?

1. Research Revealed that In 2022, 80% of New Year’s Resolutions fail.

New Year's Resolution

ABC news reported data from a U.S.

News and World Report that 80% of people lose their motivation to maintain their New Year’s resolutions. 

This could mean they are making resolutions that aren’t realistic or doable in a short time.

It’s recommended to break down New Year’s resolutions in a series of steps to make them more realistic and to help maintain the resolve to keep them.

(ABC)

2.  In 2022, 63% of People Said They Never Made a New Year’s Resolution.

One survey revealed that 63% of American respondents said they didn’t make any New Year’s resolutions in 2022.

The survey was conducted to measure if people in the United States kept their resolutions. 

Besides 63% that made no resolutions, 22% said they did keep their New Year’s resolutions and 11% didn’t. 

Only 5% said they were unsure.

(Statista)

3. 58% of Survey Respondents in The UK Said They Would Make New Year’s Resolutions for 2023.

People in the UK also make New Year’s resolutions.

A survey from December 2022 found that 58% of respondents said they were going to make New Year’s resolutions for 2023. 

This percentage accounts for about 30 million people who mostly desire to improve their health or wealth.

(Cordis, Finder)

4. In The 1980s, Roughly 40% of Research Volunteers Kept Their New Year’s Resolutions Beyond 6 Months.

New Year's Resolution

A study in the 1980s by Dr. John Norcross found that out of 200 study volunteers, roughly 40% maintained their New Year’s resolutions beyond the 6-month mark. 

Within two years after this study, this percentage fell to 21%, dropping 19 percentage points from those who kept their resolutions.

Things aren’t much different today.

(Cordis, Science Direct)

5. Another Study from The 1990s of 159 Volunteers Showed 40% Kept Resolutions.

During the 1990s, another study was conducted across 159 research volunteers that found 40% of this group kept their resolutions. 

This was a random sampling of participants, but it essentially had similar findings as the outcomes from Dr. Norcross in the 1980s. 

(Cordis)

6. In 2020, Professor per Carlbring Said that How You Phrase Your New Year’s Resolution Is Important.

Professor Per Carlbring, a clinical psychologist, said that people should consider rephrasing their New Year’s resolutions to get better results in keeping them (2020). 

Professor Carlbring recommends switching your phrasing from “I will quit (insert resolution)” to “I will start to (insert resolution)”, your chances are higher for achieving your resolution’s goal. 

(Calbring.se, Plos One)

7. Another Professor in The UK Said Vague “promises” Often Fail Early.

More than just rephrasing your New Year’s resolution, vague resolutions, or promises to yourself, often fail before the January is over. 

Focusing on qualities that can’t be effectively measured about health, wellness, happiness, fitness, finance, and other qualities require a definition, or a specified goal to prompt keeping it.

After all, isn’t a resolution a goal you want to achieve?

(Cordis)

8. 80% of Americans Are Confident They Can Reach Their New Year’s Resolutions Goals.

New Year's Resolution

Data in the United States found that 80% of the nation’s population is confident about reaching their New Year’s resolutions goals.

Only 6% said they don’t feel confident about it. 

Moreover, women are slightly less confident at 79% about reaching their New Year’s resolutions compared to 82% of men who feel confident about their resolutions.

(Forbes Health)

9. Only 22% of Survey Participants Stuck to Their New Year’s Resolutions in 2023.

To compare the habits of people today compared to the 1980s and 1990s, we have this data: 87% of people who made New Year’s resolutions early in 2023 said they would keep their resolutions. 

However, only 22% did keep them and 54% said they mostly kept their resolutions.

This somewhat coincides with data from the second study in the 1980s.

(Discover Happy Habits)

10. The Top New Year’s Resolutions for 2024 Involve Fitness.

In a Forbes Health/OnePoll survey for 2024 (conducted in October 2023), findings showed that the top New Year’s resolution for 2024 revolves around fitness. 

This is a contrast over 2023 when the top resolution was related to mental health, according to the former survey. 

People 78 and older are still saying mental health is their top resolution for 2024, which suggests that age plays a role in categories of New Year’s resolutions.

(Forbes Health²)

11. In 2023, the Most Popular New Year’s Resolutions Relate to Finances and Health.

In 2023, the most popular promises for the New Year that people made to themselves were tied among health and wealth.

Both physical health and saving more money accounted for 20% of all 2023 New Year’s resolutions. 

After these two resolutions, more exercise came in third with 19% and eating healthier fourth at 18%.

Being happy and losing weight each accounted for 17% of New Year’s resolutions for 2023.

(Discover Happy Habits)

12. 82% of Millennials Plan to Prioritize Finances in Their New Year’s Resolution.

New Year's Resolution

Not all New Year’s resolutions revolve around fitness for 2024.

In fact, 82% of Millennials plan to make financial New year’s resolutions related to improving their financial health. 

Only 18% said they won’t engage in financial resolutions.

Moreover, 74% of Gen Z, 69% of Gen X, and 49% of Baby Boomers will include finances in their resolutions.

(The Ascent)

13. 49% of Those with Fitness Resolutions Intend to Use Fitness Apps.

Nearly half (49%) of the people making fitness a priority for their New Year’s resolutions say they plan to install fitness apps to help them meet their goals and to keep them motivated. 

Of this 49%, 33% say they will use a meditation app and 46% said they will use a diet app. 

Mobile fitness apps can be an effective tool to help those who make New Year’s resolutions with accountability.

Will it help them achieve their goals? We hope so.

(Forbes Health²)

14. 80% of People Leave Their New Year’s Resolutions Behind by Week 2 of February.

As the new year approaches, people are making resolutions, especially related to their health, weight, and fitness.

Memberships to gyms grow during the first month of the year and large numbers of diet books are sold during this same time.

However, by week 2 in February, people have forgotten their resolution or given up on it entirely. 

This also results in remorse and disappointment among those who make these resolutions and don’t follow through.

(LifeHack, USNews Health)

15. 52% of People with Financial New Year’s Resolutions Think It Will Get Too Expensive to Continue to Follow-Up on It.

More than half of the people who are planning to make financial based New Year’s resolutions believe it will start getting too expensive to keep up with their resolution over the full year. 

Another 25% don’t feel they will be able to keep to the habits needed for their financial resolution and 9% feel that they lack support from friends and family to help them stay motivated.

(The Ascent)

16. 48% of 2024 New Year’s Resolutions Account for Improving Overall Fitness.

New Year's Resolution

A survey from Forbes Health/OnePoll for 2024 found that 48% of those making New Year’s resolutions in 2024 will focus on their fitness goals.

Another 38% will focus on improving their financial health and 36% their mental health.

Furthermore, 34% of New Year’s resolutions in 2024 will prioritize weight loss and 32% will make dietary changes. 

Things that are less prioritized include travel, meditation, less alcohol, and improved work productivity.

(Forbes Health²)

17. The Main Reason Finances Are Prioritized for New Year’s Resolutions Is to Pay Off Debts.

The main goal of those who prioritize financial New Year’s resolutions is to pay off their debt.

In fact, 22% of survey respondents said that’s their main goal for 2024. 

Another 16% are saving for a big investment like a new home, car, new baby, wedding, etc.

Also, 12% are saving for travel, or a new device or appliance. 

Only 8% said they prioritize saving for an emergency fund.

(The Ascent)

18. January 17th Is Referred to As “Ditch New Year’s Resolutions Day” Due to Failed Resolutions.

New Year’s resolution failure rates are so prevalent that January 17th is dedicated to it and is called “Ditch New Year’s Resolutions Day”, which is unofficially celebrated by those who ditch their New Year’s resolutions. 

Moreover, there is also “Quitter’s Day”, which occurs on the second Friday of January and is another unofficial “holiday” for resolution quitters.

Other sources say this day is January 19th.

(Forbes Health²)

19. 55.70% of Those Making Financial Health Resolutions for 2024 Are Saving for A Rainy Day.

Rainy-Day savings is a top priority among Americans making 2024 New Year’s resolutions according to A USA Today Blueprint report.

Moreover, 52.9% say they are saving for retirement and 52% for their kids’ schooling. 

Of these top four most popular financial health New Year’s resolutions, 49.30% say they want to pay off their credit card debt

(USA Today)

20. 55% of Americans Say New Year’s Resolutions Are Outdated.

New Year's Resolution

Today, over half of the American population, according to one survey, says that New Year’s resolutions are outdated. So, 55% don’t believe in making New Year’s resolutions.

It’s believed that due to New Year’s resolution failure rates being so high, that more people have decided it’s an outdated practice. 

(Clayton News-Daily)

Bonus New Year’s Resolutions Statistics

  • 37% of resolutions are about taking more time to spend with family and friends.
  • 20% of New Year’s resolutions relate to spending less time on social media.
  • 19% of resolutions revolve around reducing work stress.
  • 25% of people with New Year’s resolutions quit in the first week of January.
  • 32.6% of mental health resolutions intend to use meditation apps.

FAQs

Why Do so Many New Year’s Resolutions Fail?

There are several reasons studies and psychologists have found that make New Year’s resolutions fail. Here are some of the reasons:

Non-specific goals: Making a resolution that’s not specific isn’t clear enough for your brain to respond to it. For instance, “I want to eat healthier” is a good thing to do, but how do you plan to do that? Try something more specific like, “I’m going to replace junk food with one cup of vegetables at lunch every day.”
Lack of accountability: How likely are you to set goals that make you accountable only to yourself. Try including friends or family to add a layer of accountability.
Loss of focus on the goal: It’s easy to lose focus and forget about your resolutions to yourself. Try committing to one part of your overall goal or break it down into weekly or monthly goals.
Environmental challenges: The environment in which you work or live may not provide much support for you. In fact, sometimes your environment may create more challenges.
It’s not something you really want: If you really don’t want to reach your resolution goal, you aren’t likely to try. You need to set a goal that you want to meet and understand why it’s important to you.
Underestimating what it takes: You need to understand what it’s going to take to meet your goal.
Resolutions that are out-of-sync with your persona: Your resolution needs to become something you need or want to do regardless of your identity.

Remember, the overall goal is to set yourself up for successfully achieving your New Year’s resolutions. 

What Are Some Tips to Prevent New Year’s Resolution Failure?

We found seven tips to help you meet your New Year’s resolutions from UC Davis Health:

1. Be selective about New Year’s resolutions: Choose one resolution instead of several.
Set specific and measurable goals: Be specific about your goal and what you want to achieve for 2024.

2. Don’t overwhelm yourself: If you take on more than you can handle, you will feel overwhelmed and may give up.

3. Plan your promise to yourself: A resolution in this instance is a promise to yourself, so plan it out accordingly.

4. Try a new resolution: If you have tried a goal that you have yet to meet, try choosing something different for 2024.

5. Find partners for accountability: Choose a family member, friend, or coworker to help with accountability.

6. Stick to it and let it become a habit: According to studies, it takes an average of 66 days to turn something you do into a habit.

What Are Some Fun Facts About New Year’s Resolutions?

• New Year’s resolutions may date back to the Babyloanians (4,000 years ago).
• The Romans “invented” January, the month.
• Being healthier and more fit is the most common resolution.
• Saying your resolution out loud may improve success in achieving it.
• New Year’s resolutions vary among cultures.
• Online searches for fast food fell by 20% during the pandemic. 
• People 55 and older are least apt to make New Year’s resolutions.
• Less alcohol consumption is the least prioritized for resolutions.
• People in the United States are more apt to make New Year’s resolutions than people in the United Kingdom.
• Approach-oriented goals are more successful than avoidance-oriented goals.

Do you engage in New Year’s resolutions?

Conclusion

We have learned that most of the time people don’t follow through with their New Year’s resolutions. 

We now have some idea of why the failure rate for keeping New Year’s resolutions is so high. 

Psychologists, therapists, and psychiatrists have conducted studies for more than 40 years to learn more about New Year’s resolution behaviors and habits. 

They found that how you word a resolution (a promise to yourself) plays a key role in whether you keep it or not.

It also seems that human beings haven’t changed their behaviors or habits much in terms of New Year’s resolutions over the years. 

We hope that we have answered what percentage of New Year’s resolutions fail to your satisfaction.

Also, we hope you have learned something new about New Year’s resolutions and that you can apply what you’ve learned to your life, business, or marketing strategy.

Sources

ABCStatistaFinderCordis
Science DirectCarlbring.sePlos OneForbes Health
Discover Healthy HabitsForbes Health²The AscentLifeHack
USNews HealthUSA TodayClayton News-Daily

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Written by Kelly Indah

I’m a statistics researcher here at EarthWeb with a special interest in privacy, tech, diversity, equality and human rights. I have a master’s degree in Computer Science and I have my Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) certification.