• Dr. Francis Yoo

Why New Year's Resolutions Fail - 5 step guide for achieving goals

Let's use Flavio Wonderkind's desire to lose weight as an example.


Problem: Goals and resolutions are set in isolation and separate from one's purpose and values, vision, and mission.

Example: Flavio wants to lose weight, but honestly does not really know why or how life will be different once it is accomplished.

Solution: Establish the deeper reason for the goal by making sure it is linked with the rest of your life instead of a nebulous detached bud.

Exercise: Describe the moment of achieving the goal including your feelings, thoughts, action; where you are; who you tell; how will you celebrate. Describe how achieving this goal will impact or affect various aspect of one's life.

Example: Flavio wants to lose weight to improve self-esteem, feel more attractive, and feel good.


Problem: The goal is set, but it remains vague and difficult to follow.

Solution: Set objectives with measurable endpoints.

Exercise: Fill in the blanks - "I will do XYZ within ___ weeks/months. First I will do X within ___ weeks"

Example: "Flavio will lose 15 pounds (33 kilograms) within 3 months. First Flavio will lose 5 pounds within 1 month. Flavio will not regain the weight... ever"


Problem: There is no plan or no idea how to start.

Solution: Identify the obstacles: lack of knowledge, laziness, fear of change/doing something new, etc.

Example: Flavio actually has no idea the best/healthy way to lose weight; Flavio just knows changing diet and physical activity is involved.

3a. Address lack of knowledge.

Solution: Gain the knowledge how or ask someone for advice, preferably someone who has already accomplished what you are trying to do.

Example: Flavio asks Zarthur, friend and fitness enthusiast who lost 30 pounds within 6 months.

3b. Address laziness.

Solution: Acknowledge laziness. Set a plan that is easy to follow and does not require thinking.

Example: Flavio will walk 5 miles every day... every day.


Problem: Not changing priorities or daily tasks and schedule. The plan becomes another addition to the daily "to do list"

Example: Flavio plans to walk 5 miles every day, but does not change the daily schedule to allow for this walk.

Solution: Eliminate or change other tasks/things to do during the day. Making a "not to do list" works.

Example: Flavio decides to remove watching netflix from the daily schedule and do the walk instead.


Problem: Not setting up the environment for success.

Solution: Set up the external environment for success: Use post it notes, calendar reminders/notifications about the decision made to do XYZ. This should be easier since something else was removed from the schedule for this new activity.

Example: Flavio places a post it note on the car dashboard, bathroom mirror, inside the wallet that has the writing "15 pounds in 3 months!"

Solution: Set up the internal environment for success: Visualize the scenario made in part 1 (the place, feelings, thoughts, etc at moment of success) AND the specific activity that is planned complete the goal at least once a day.

Example: Flavio visualizes a 15-pound (33kg) lighter Flavio that is feeling excited and happy and celebrating the accomplishment with a few friends.


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