How to Fail at New Years Resolutions

Quality failure requires proper planning. Here are five stealth methods for failing your New Year’s resolutions – because success would be lonely.

Most people think a “lack of willpower” is enough to guarantee failure – and that’s one excuse, but that’s the wrong answer because your friends and significant other know it’s a flaccid, pitiful, unoriginal – and totally obvious excuse.

resolution failMost people aren’t broken or “lacking willpower”. So, a quality New Year’s Resolution failure needs a truly bad strategy – not just bad genes or lame excuses.

Your strategy has to have decent stealth features, or it’ll be too obvious, and people will laugh at you for even saying it.

Here are FIVE strategic ways to guarantee a quality New Year’s Resolution FAIL:



  1. “I will lose 20 pounds by the end of February.”
  2. “I will spend more time with my family.”
  3. “I will get Nancy to marry me.”
  4. “I will make a million dollars.”
  5. “I will weigh 125 pounds.”

These are typical resolutions. They are all stated in positive terms – which makes them ideal stealth-failure resolutions!

Check Them Out:


1. “I will lose 20 pounds by the end of February.”

This goal is positive, and healthy, and that “end of February” deadline is the perfect kind of overly-specific booby-trap to trigger stress-eating – or just plain stressing – which causes the body to retain weight.

People who want to stay fat (or even gain weight) should try to do stress-eating. And, they need to avoid being active and getting outside. Going outside burns calories. It also exposes a person to sunshine – which helps their body synthesize serotonin. And, that totally ruins the seasonal affective depression that helps them binge on carbohydrates like pretzels, chips, and pasta.

Physical activity relieves stress – which interferes with stress eating and the hormone levels you want to maintain to insure you maintain or gain more fat.

January is the best time of year to make excuses for staying inside and inactive. It’s cold, it’s snowing, it’s miserable, you get a cold, it’s flu season, you have to brush off the windshield, it gets dark early. And, if any of those fail, you can always misplace your gloves.

The more non-perfect performance days that tick off through January, the more weight you have to lose PER DAY to avoid failure.

At some point, even your significant other will forgive you for just surrendering – taking the couch-lounging path that ultimately gives you 11 months and 4 days of peace until you have to do it again. (If you don’t count your significant other totally checking out the hot-bodied so-and-so at the lake.)

If you really want to fail your New Year’s Resolution, make sure you put your goal on a deadline.

2. “I will spend more time with my family.”

This goal is positive, and a good idea, and just non-specific enough:  There’s no method – and no metrics (tracking system). You can totally make easy excuses any time it comes up. No real action will happen, and by the time anyone notices – around the time you have that big fight in July or so – you’ll have “already failed” – and you can put it off again until next Christmas!

When you want to make a totally fail-destined resolution, making it seem positive, while structurally vague and without any way to track progress – is certain to be helpful. And, by that, I mean to insure failure.

3. “I will get Nancy to marry me.”

There’s that good positive-sounding facade – behind it hiding one of the best resolution fail tricks in the book: You aren’t really in control of it. You can make a big production, and spend money and take a trip and hire a sky-writer. You can do all that with utter security that most jewelers will take the ring back when she says “no”. And, the refund will probably let you pay off the proposal vacation you maxed-out your credit card for.

One of the best ways to insure a resolution fail – and to build-in an escape from accountability – or even create a pity-wringing victim status – is to make sure someone else is in control of the main choice(s) or actions that produce the outcome.

Consistently focus on any part you don’t fully control– especially trivial ones. Do this especially if that part isn’t actually necessary. Find ways to say that others are in control of various trivial, but essential prerequisites to you taking meaningful action.

4. “I will make a million dollars.”

By now, you recognize the “positivity paint” on this baby, and you may already be noticing that a ridiculously-gigantic and very specific goal is just the thing to insure a quality resolution fail. The “lose 20 pounds by February” resolution used time pressure to help guarantee failure. This one does the same thing, just using gigantic size instead of a short time-frame.

No matter the degree of progress, make sure you never measure progress, and always focus on how huge the rest of the resolution is.

And, the result is the same: You get out of the effort much earlier by surrendering to how much harder it seems to make a $999,000 in only seven months.

When you want to fail a resolution, don’t make it big, or even challenging; make it ridiculously huge. Nobody will blame you for surrendering. And, in the meantime, everyone will say how “ambitious” you are.

5. “I will weigh XXX pounds.”

Positive. Controllable. Right-sized to your starting weight. How are you going to fail that one?

This is the stealthiest of the fails: The outcome-obsessed fail. This one requires some greed, but most people can supply that. You have to stay focused on the outcome – like Gollum with the ring.

You have to crave and obsess and struggle with it all the time. And, it’s best if you dramatize that with your family and friends – being so brave and “strong” whenever anyone is watching. Max-out that willpower in the most dramatic possible ways.

That allows you the flexibility to rationalize and justify and excuse and deny the “cheating” and binging you’ll do when nobody is around.

It’s OK: You totally deserve all those treats and rewards for the incredible shirt-popping will-power you’re profiling.

Nobody will blame you when you boomerang around Valentine’s day, gaining back nine of the five pounds you lost before then. They’ll believe the “big boned” thing – at least when you’re in the room.

Keep in mind that nobody likes a successful New Year’s Resolution winner-bully – and everyone loves the story of a dramatic failure.

Remember, your friends will feel bad if you outdo them. Remember that victory laps are short-lived and elitist, while martyrdom and pining for unrequited success offers an endless source of conversation and attention. If you were to succeed, you would have to invent an entirely new line of conversation and basis for connecting to your friends.

Please share your own New Year’s Resolutions. Share your plans, and I’ll give you some free tips on how to insure the outcome you really want!

This entry was posted in Cultivating Character, Decision-Making, High Performance, How to Be Happier, Procrastination, Self Esteem. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to How to Fail at New Years Resolutions

  1. Chris says:

    Good post. I’ve got some defined “Goals” but they aren’t for the new years. Why wait until some magical date to begin your journey? “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” – Why wait for some magical date to take that step?

    Some of my ‘Personal Development’ goals are to get to 160-170lb of lean muscle mass on my frame by July, and to become a sponsored athlete with both a supplement company and clothing brand.

    Some of my day trading goals are to begin an income stream with Day trading by new-years.

    For my business ventures, I’d like to have 60,000 social media followers by next new-years, I’d like to have worked with over 50 individuals to help them move towards their fitness related goals, and i’d like to be able to sustain living (general living expenses) without a paycheck.

    Would love to hear some feedback on those goals! They’re out there, and I don’t think New Years should be the day where you wait to create those goals!

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