I Already Failed My New Year’s Resolutions. What Now?

Experts in nutrition, fitness, relationships, and finance offer advice on recalibrating your New Year’s goals.
collage of a january 2024 calendar man exercising and woman lying down representing new year's resolutions
Photo: Getty Images

We are, somehow, already double-digit days into January. You’d think sticking to a resolution for longer than 1/36th of the year would be easier, but a lot of us have already dropped the ball. In fact, around a quarter of people usually give up by the end of the first week, and as many as 80 percent will do the same by February


But even if you’ve struggled to maintain your resolution, there’s still hope! Below, experts in nutrition, fitness, relationships, and finance share how you can recover what you originally wanted for yourself this year. For some people, that might mean recalibrating your resolutions entirely. Doesn’t “recalibrated” sound a whole lot better than “failed,” though?

If you’ve failed to exercise…

Luke Zocchi, head trainer at the personal training app Centr, says to reframe your mentality around failure, focus on stacking smaller habits, and restructure your resolution to be more specific and measurable.

Immediate next steps: 
Before you hold a ritual burning of your brand-new activewear, let’s get this straight. You haven’t failed—you probably just didn’t have a great New Year’s resolution. And remember that the road to your goals is never going to be linear. Even for people who work in health & fitness, it’s always two steps forward, one step back.

Everyone comes out swinging at this time of year, but if you’ve never even run around the block, do you really expect to be running a marathon by the third week in January? Steer clear of the “fail” language and remind yourself you’re allowed to hit reset.

The trick to fitness goals that stick is not big resolutions but gradual, sustainable change that works for your lifestyle. So try committing to smaller, more achievable goals. Averaging 6,000 steps a day? Try upping it to 10,000. Can’t get to the gym every day? Try two days a week and add in a few 20-minute workouts at home. Always remember it only becomes a fail when you stop!


Reconsidering your original goal:
Bring it back to small, healthy habits that you can stack up as the year progresses.

If you’re finding it hard to commit to the hour-long boot camp you signed up for, that’s OK. Let’s think about how you can get moving at home instead. Even if it’s just 10 minutes, one or two days a week, success creates motivation—and that cycle snowballs.

Making your goal more attainable:
There are a ton of great goal-setting methodologies you can try. It’s all about finding the one, or the combination, that works for you.

Maybe you’re an Atomic Habits kind of person, setting up 2-minute micro habits like drinking a glass of water before your morning coffee. If you’re only sure what you DON’T enjoy (being at the gym at 5 AM), work backward to set your anti-goals (working out in your lunch break instead).

“Set goals that are specific, measurable, action-oriented, and time-limited.” –Luke Zocchi

If you perform better with structure, try the SMART method: Set goals that are specific, measurable, action-oriented, and time-limited. A six-week program like Centr Circuit: Elevate is a great SMART tool. It will get you focused, the timeframe is manageable, the efficient 30-minute workouts fit straight into your daily routine, and you can measure your progress week by week.  


However you do it, don’t just set one huge goal that you want to achieve by the end of the year. Give yourself smaller, easier-to-achieve milestones that you can hit along the way. No drastic changes, nothing “overnight”—focus on gradual improvement. It's all about taking those little steps and gradually building from there. 

By starting small and building yourself up, you’re not just giving yourself a way in, you’re setting yourself up for success in the long run.

Whatever your smartwatch is telling you, however further ahead that person in the gym is than you, don’t dismiss the work you know you’re putting in. Always come back to how you feel and the personal wins.

If you’ve failed to improve your relationships…

Benu Lahiry, head clinician at relationship wellness company OURS, says to reflect on how realistic your resolution is, review the strengths of your relationships and what you want out of them, and ensure that you’re communicating your resolutions with the people you’re in those relationships with.

Immediate next steps:
Take the time to sit down and reflect. In the realm of relationships, it’s crucial to understand that there's no definitive “failure.” Often, we find ourselves stretched beyond our capacities, leading to dissatisfaction with how we engage with others. Ask yourself: Is your resolution realistic considering your current circumstances? Consider making adjustments: Try implementing smaller changes for a few weeks and gauge their impact. Embrace the opportunity to reassess and adjust your goals to align better with your current circumstances and abilities. Be kind to yourself in this process; growth in relationships often involves actively learning from setbacks and adapting your approach.


Reconsidering your original goal:
Start by conducting your own personal relationship review. Identify which relationships require more attention, recognizing that different connections demand unique forms of nurturing. Tailoring goals for a partner will differ from those for close friends, for instance.

What’s going well with your relationships? What are you craving more of? Equally crucial is evaluating your current life circumstances. Consider what feels realistically achievable for you now. Reflect on what actions you can feasibly take more of, and what might need scaling back.

“Ask yourself: Is your resolution realistic considering your current circumstances?” –Benu Lahiry

We often have these grand ideas for the type of person we want to be in our relationships, and it often does not mirror the reality of what we’re able to give. That can feel disappointing and deflating. It doesn’t mean being aspirational is a bad thing, on the contrary, it’s great to set your sights on a larger goal. Focus on smaller, immediate changes that honor your limitations and energy. This approach fosters gradual progress rather than attempting drastic, all-encompassing transformations at once.

Making your goal more attainable (with the help of your partner):
It all boils down to communication. Are both you and your partner in sync with your resolution? Where do each of you need support around accountability? What is the best way to approach each other when you’re feeling off track? Establishing an open dialogue helps create an environment to keep the resolution alive and active within the relationship. It also offers room for necessary adaptations along the way.


If you’ve failed to eat better…

Sarah Wragge, holistic nutritionist and advisor to superfood wellness company Kroma, says to go back to your original intention in setting your resolution and break your ideal outcome down into mini goals—but don’t let celebrating these mini goals deter you from the bigger picture.

Immediate next steps:
Go back to your WHY. Why are you setting this goal? And how is achieving this goal going to make you FEEL when you do? When we connect to the feeling and work backwards, we have a greater chance of success.

Reconsidering your original goal:
Sometimes, the reason you do not reach your goal is because you are not setting the right goal in the first place. Start small. What is the outcome you want? Then, be specific. For example, I want to be able to do 10 push-ups by Feb 25th. Then, work backwards. This means that you need to make a calendar and count how many days you have to complete the goal. Start with one push-up five days in a row, then move to two. Celebrate your wins along the way, but don’t let the celebration get in the way of the goal or make you undo the goal entirely. 

“Celebrate your wins along the way, but don’t let the celebration get in the way of the goal.” –Sarah Wragge

That’s the most common mistake I see. Someone has a goal of losing 10 pounds; they lose 5 and celebrate with an indulgent meal or meals that take them away from their goal. When you start to taste success happening, drive harder toward the goal.


Making your goal more attainable:
First up: When you want to achieve or change something physical, wrap your head around a large chunk of time to get there. A long-lasting transformation doesn't happen overnight—in fact, I tell my clients a true transformation takes a year. 

Second: Look at your goal and then look at your lifestyle and schedule. Is this goal attainable for what you do / who you are every day? If it is, then create a regimen and routine to get you to the goal. Baby steps and consistency wins.

If you’ve failed to stick to a budget…

Maya Sudhakaran, head of growth and acquisition at investing app Plynk says to remind yourself that financial health is a work in progress and that being overly restrictive is unrealistic, but that automating your finances and being specific in your finances can help you stick to your goals.

Immediate next steps:
It isn’t uncommon for individuals to set up lofty financial goals heading into the new year. It’s great to be ambitious, but setting unrealistic financial goals often leads to disappointment. It’s important to not look at your resolutions as “failures.” Rather, consider them as learning experiences. Instead of setting unrealistic resolutions, focus on establishing small, achievable steps toward improving your financial health in 2024.

Reconsider your original goal and make it more attainable:
Develop a budget (and stick to it): A budget provides a clear picture of your financial situation. It shows how much money you’re bringing in and where it's going. By tracking your spending, you can make informed decisions about where to cut back or eliminate certain expenses. However, people tend to neglect their budget if it feels too restrictive, so be sure not to completely remove all your favorite hobbies or activities from it. Setting a realistic budget that helps you save while also leaving room for the things you enjoy is important to remain consistent with it. If you fail, don’t give up! Reset your goals to keep them realistic, achievable, and meaningful.

“Reset your goals to keep them realistic, achievable, and meaningful.” –Maya Sudhakaran

Reward yourself—in the future: Instead of treating yourself to a shopping spree or splurging on dining out/ordering in, celebrate your successes by putting money aside to invest. It will help you to build up savings, and even potentially grow your wealth over time, rather than impulsively spending (and losing on possible future gains) every time you’d like to celebrate a win.

Automatically make contributions to savings and investment accounts: We handle numerous responsibilities daily, and it can be easy for small tasks to fall under the radar. Setting up monthly recurring investments (even in little increments) can help ensure you stick to your plan. It encourages you to stay focused on your goals instead of on short-term volatility. If possible, increase the recurring investment over the course of the year. If it’s becoming difficult to manage, reevaluate your goals and set a more realistic pace. No matter how much you work with, the sooner you start investing the money you put aside (no matter how small), the more potential your money has to grow over time!