Personal Goal Setting That Works – Why Most of Us Fail Our New Year Resolutions

personal goal, new years resolutions

Personal Goal Setting That Works – Why Most of Us Fail Our New Year Resolutions

At MotivatePT we are all about results and this is why we have written you this guide. We want to make sure you reach your goals for the new year in 2024. There are a few very common reasons that you might not be sticking to your new year resolutions and we are laying these out for you now so that you can make sure 2024 is your year.

While setting personal goals is an incredible gift to give yourself all year round, many people find the new year and the fresh start particularly motivating. Find out more about the power of goal setting. In our last post, we gave you our very own goal setting worksheet, and our top tips to setting your goals. You can find that here. As mentioned, this post has a different focus – making sure you hit the goals you have set!

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Setting an unrealistic personal goal that does not honour where you are at right now

With the best of intentions, we can set new years resolutions that are simply too big a change from where we are at right now. When you do this, you set yourself up for disappointment. When you don’t stick to your personal goal, you feel guilty and bad about yourself, which damages your self esteem. And for no reason at all! It is not because there is anything wrong with you, it was simply poor planning.

The first thing to do to set yourself up for success is to get really honest about where you are starting from, where you are at right now. From this place, you can decide the next best action to take. We love the concept of getting “1% better everyday”. Remember that you have your whole life to become the person you want to be, you do not, and can not, fit it all into one year.


Not adapting your environment to make your goals for the new year easier

As humans, our environments are more influential than we would like to admit. In this context, ‘environment’ refers to your home and material possessions, your location, the information you consume, and your relationships. This can be both a blessing or a curse, it is up to you. It is your job to curate an environment that is condusive to the person you want to be or life you want to have.

Adapt your home to make your personal goal easier

When planning how you are going to reach your new years resolutions, making changes to your environment is an essential part of that process. You can not only add and re-organise items that are useful and inspiring to you on your new lifestyle, but you can declutter (donate, sell or recycle) anything that is no longer aligned.

For example, I have the dumbells and yoga mat I use daily out in open view ready for me. I also make sure the floor space where I exercise is always clear.

Assess who you spend the most time with

“You’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with” is the famous quote by motivational speaker Jim Rohn. Find out exactly what this means in this clear-cut article by the Business Insider.

Are the people you spend your time with aligned with the person you are becoming? Do not slow or limit your progress by keeping people around you that make it harder to change your life in the way you want to.

We advise that you take inventory of all the people you spend the most time with and go through each one. A classic example of a no-longer-viable relationship are the childhood friends you have to pretend to be an older version of yourself to get along with, or the friends that you only see if alcohol is involved.

You do not need to cut people out of your life completely. In many cases, this will not be necessary or appropriate. It may just be that the relationship needs to evolve – maybe you will become a bit more distant, OR you will set boundaries that force the relationship to change. An example of this would be only no longer partaking in that regular meet up you have been going to for years, or choosing more wholesome activities with friends you usually drink with. For more on decluttering relationships, check out this post on the importance of decluttering relationships and 3 tips to help.

Does the media you consume inspire your goals for the new year?

The media you consume – social media accounts you follow, podcasts you listen to, shows you watch, and so on, just like your home and friends, are part of the environment that makes up who you are! In preparation for making 2024 your year, root through the content you are absorbing, even the music you listen to most, and re-curate it so that it is fertile ground for the person you are becoming.


Not breaking down big goals for the new year into small, actionable steps

All big things are achieved in small steps. Take each big personal goal and work backwards, breaking it down into smaller steps until you have individual actions you can schedule into your calendar. This is a formula for success.

Here is an example of a new years resolution of getting fit!

Personal goal – Make fitness a part of my lifestyle

Actionable goal – Workout 3 times a week

Schedulable goal – Schedule 3 workouts into your calendar for the entire month, and do this at the beginning of each month. Prepare to reschedule or adapt workouts as needed, but whatever happens, keep 3 slots for exercise each week!

Our formula for succeeding with your new years resolutions

FIRST set your goals, and discover our Goal Setting Worksheet for 2024 to make sure they’re right!

THEN break your goal down into small actionable steps

FINALLY, schedule these steps into your calendar, like you would any other appointment or meeting


Not working on your identity

“Identity is this incredible invisible force that controls your whole life. It’s invisible, like gravity is invisible, but it controls your whole life.” – Tony Robbins

Your brain is always trying to prove itself right. This is what is called ‘confirmation bias’. If you want to get fit, but consider yourself lazy and unable to stick with any fitness regimen, these beliefs will ultimately win and you will not make fitness a part of your lifestyle.

Changing your identity is a two way street. On the one hand, you do need to reassess the way you view yourself and identity any limiting, negative beliefs you are holding about yourself in order to change your behaviour in the long-term. On the other, as your behaviours change, your identity will change too. Both of these are important.

So, for each of your new years resolutions, reflect (and better, write down) what beliefs you might have about yourself that undermine your success with this goal. Can you create a new belief that you can practice instead?

Here’s an example. “I always give up on my new years resolutions” could become “I try different ways of achieving my goals, until I find a way that works!”.



The running theme throughout this post has been this – to reach your goals and change your habits, you need to make them as EASY as possible.

Being honest with yourself about where you are now, breaking your goals down into small, actionable steps, and creating an environment that is fertile ground for achieving all your goals for the new year, are simple yet extremely effective ways to make your new years resolutions as easy as possible to achieve.

Finally, the most important part about changing your life whether that is in the new year or not, is changing your identity. Practice exercising the new beliefs you are holding about yourself. The more you act in accordance with these new beliefs, the stronger they will become. Remember, you can find our top tips for goal-setting alongside our goal-setting worksheet here. You have absolutely got this!

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