Why New Year’s Resolutions Fail and How to Make Meaningful, Soul-Based Goals or Intentions

It’s almost the end of January and I am curious as to whether or not you’ve given up or stopped engaging in your New Year’s Resolutions. If you have, you’re not alone. Only 8% of people are successful at achieving their intended goals. There’s a reason for this and it’s not a lack of dedication or will power!

My Sparked Interest

Before Christmas, I was at a Toastmaster’s meeting.  During a round table discussion, I was called to speak off the top of my head about a particular question. The question was: “Are you for or are you against New Year’s Resolutions?” My immediate response was that I’m against New Year’s Resolutions. I didn’t even bat an eye. It was an emphatic “no” coming from the depths of my being. Why such a strong visceral reaction? Often we choose goals or intentions that are not really in tune with our highest good or what is right at a cellular level. Cellular level? What the heck does that mean? We sometimes choose goals or intentions only from our brains. We forget about how it should feel in our hearts and the rest of our body. All three have to be in alignment. More on this later, but first…

The History of New Year’s Resolutions

I was really curious about where New Year’s Resolutions came from. Who started this asinine tradition? The cynic in me thought for sure it had to be a marketing scheme cooked up by some food manufacturing company to make us lose weight by buying their product. Because that is certainly what you get inundated with this time of year. January is the month of dieting commercials. Really Oprah, you are still promoting Weight Watchers? One of the most powerfully influential women, who spouts the importance of connecting and nurturing the mind, body, and spirit in her Super Soul Sunday features, is still telling people you are not enough just as you are. Sorry, I digress. This is a whole other article.



So I looked it up and here is what I found out. New Year’s Resolutions were actually religious in origin. Over 4,000 years ago, the Babylonians were the first people to start each new year by paying their debts and making promises to the gods. Back then the new year was in mid-march when crops were planted. They wanted to put their best foot forward by earning favor with the God Janus, for whom the month of January is named. In 46 BC, Julius Caesar established January 1st as the beginning of the new year and they too offered sacrifices to Janus and promised their good behavior for the coming year. Early Christians looked to the new year to reflect on their past digressions and vowed to be better in the future. And so, the New Year’s Resolutions tradition was born – albeit now much altered in nature.

What New Year’s Resolutions Have Become

Time to finally lose the weight. Time to get physically active. Are these truly your goals or intentions or is it what is expected of you? What society or media deem as acceptable beauty or physical appearance. These types of goals or intentions are ego-based and bring with them an energy of fear and struggle. They come from a place of wanting to increase one’s self-esteem, but they have conditions and are based on circumstances. For example, as a result of wanting to fit in, we end up comparing ourselves to other individuals. Maybe it’s the photo you saw in a magazine or people at the office talking about how fit they are going to get. We all want to fit in. To feel like we belong. That we are a part of something beyond ourselves. When you choose a goal or intention that doesn’t reflect who you are or feel true to you, you end up losing your individuality and self-identity that makes you YOU!!!


What’s Your Why?

I am not saying that goals or intentions are bad. It’s important to have goals to move forward to grow and develop as a human being. When your goals or intentions are soul-based, it allows for an energy of expansion and love. When you come from a place of self-love it is unconditional. It supports an acceptance of self. The most important tool in choosing a goal or intention is your why. Why are you wanting to fulfill this goal? If you are doing it because your friend or a celebrity is doing it, then it’s not a strong enough why. If you are doing it because you have been diagnosed with a health condition, than it is more than likely a stronger why. If you are doing it because you have a deep desire to make a difference in the world, than that is a powerful why. You don’t have to have life altering or passionate purposeful reasons to have a meaningful why, but it has to have meaning and resonate wholly with you. In having a powerful why, it will keep you focused, engaged, and committed. There has to be an emotional connection for you to truly want to achieve that goal or intention.

Let me use myself as an example. The reason I chose to go back to school to complete my Master’s degree was because I didn’t want to work for someone else anymore. I wanted to be my own boss. I wanted to work as many hours as I felt like. I wanted to spend more time with my family and be there to support my aging parents. I wanted to have coffee with a friend on a Wednesday morning. I wanted to take as many vacations as I felt like. And I wanted to be able to sleep in. Oh the joy I get from sleeping in and waking up naturally without an alarm clock. This is a powerful why. This involves feelings and experiences and soul-stirring meaning: freedom, independence, love, caring, friendship, excitement, self-love. This goal made me feel whole and resonated in the core of my being.


Connecting with Your Goals or Intentions

In order to connect with your goals or intentions, you need to write them in a way that is in alignment with your soul and not your ego. For example, “I want to lose weight so I can fit into a smaller pair of jeans” isn’t going to cut it. Instead, a soul-based goal or intention would be: “I am fit, healthy, and have boundless energy.” This supports a universal flow of energy in helping your goals or intentions to come to fruition. Write down all the goals or intentions you want to create. Identify which ones are ego-based and which ones are soul-based. Then re-write the ego-based goals or intentions to soul-based ones.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, your goals or intentions have to be in alignment. Not just with your head, but your heart and your whole body. So how do you know your goals or intentions are aligned with your whole being? After you’ve identified your goal or intention, your why, and written out soul-based goals or intentions, find a place where you will not be disturbed. Take a couple deep breaths. Speak your goal or intention out loud and notice any sensations or feelings you may be experiencing in your head, then your heart, and finally your whole body. If there are any feelings or sensations that feel negative or uncomfortable then there is something out of alignment with this goal or intention. Again, all three of these need to be in alignment. If your head feels good and your heart feels good, but your body is experiencing unrest, then this goal or intention is out of alignment. You can ask your body why there is an uneasiness about this goal or intention. If you sit with the question, you will hear a response from your body. If you are having difficulty hearing an answer, therapy can provide further clarity and understanding.

If all three are in alignment, then take five minutes every day to visualize your goals and intentions as if they have already come true. Visualize what you will be wearing, who you will be with, how you will be engaging with them, and what you will be experiencing. Visualize what you will see, hear, feel, taste, and touch. Visualize how you will feel and feel those feelings in your body at that moment. The more consistently you do this, the quicker your goals or intentions will come to pass.


Do You Feel Deserving and Worthy?

So you’ve written out soul-based goals or intentions, your head, heart, and body are all in alignment, you’ve been visualizing them being fulfilled and feeling all those amazing feelings in your body, but yet nothing is happening. There might still be one last thing amiss. Do you feel worthy and deserving of having these goals or intentions fulfilled? If you don’t feel deserving or worthy, then you are creating energy that is pushing away these goals or intentions. The universe will only provide you with what you feel you are deserving and worthy of. If you feel unworthy or undeserving, you need to shift your consciousness. Become self-aware of limiting beliefs or thoughts around why you are pushing away good in your life. Whose thoughts or beliefs are these? Are they yours or someone else’s? For example, maybe your father always used to say: “You have to work extremely hard in order to achieve things in life.” If you believe this, and don’t believe your goals or intentions will come to you easily, then you are taking this on as your own and it will block you. If it is your own belief or thought, where does it come? Can you remember when this belief or thought was first actualized? Often a memory or two will come up. These limiting beliefs and memories can be further explored and unpacked in therapy to help you heal and release them in order to feel more deserving and worthy.

Final Thoughts

What I ended up speaking about at that Toastmaster’s meeting was instead of choosing a goal coming from external influences, how about choosing a way of being instead. How to be a better you. Maybe being kinder, more patient, more compassionate, or my favorite, more authentic. Loving and being exactly who you are. What would it be like if you just chose to be the real you? To feel free and at peace in your own skin. Again there would have to be a powerful why for choosing any one of these ideals.

To sum up, pick a goal, intention, or way of being, find your meaningful why, make sure they are written as soul-based and not ego-based, ensure it is in alignment with your head, heart, and body, and remove any blocks to feeling undeserving or unworthy. My hope and wish is that whatever goal, intention, or way of being you choose, it fills your spirit and brings you joy!

If you would like support  in helping to find meaningful, soul-based goals, or to remove blocks or limiting beliefs, contact me to set up an appointment. Have more questions? Call me at 403-891-1384 to set up a free 15-minute phone consultation.