Why Most New Year’s Resolutions Fail & What to Do About It

Every January, gyms fill with eager exercisers who vow to drop those extra pounds. No more love-handles; toned and tight, the future looks bright. Yet one researcher found that “23% quit [their resolutions] in the first week, and only 36% make it past the first month. 9% successfully keep their New Year’s resolutions.

According to my online dictionary, to resolve is “to come to a definite or earnest decision about; determine (to do something)”

That raises some questions:

  • Why do so many resolutions fail?
  • How do we keep good resolutions?

To answer these let’s look at biblical Daniel. Daniel kept the resolutions he made as a youth his whole life. In his eighties, he refused to budge on his resolve to pray three times a day. He was willing to go the lions’ den to keep his resolution. What can we learn from him?

1. Set Godly Resolutions

But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine. (Daniel 1:8 NIV)

Captured and drafted into a pagan king’s service, Daniel knew the Babylonians didn’t follow the Hebrew dietary laws (Leviticus 11:43-45). In Jerusalem, he didn’t have to think about his diet. His mama always served kosher foods. But in Babylon Daniel didn’t have the luxury of mindlessly eating whatever was put before him. To honor God, he had to draw a line.

Today, Babylon has come to us. Our culture no longer embraces the Judeo-Christian ethics on which our nation was founded. Students leaving for universities, shifts in moral and ethical standards at work, and the different pressures that come from working from home may create the need for resolutions to protect what we once took for granted.

Ask God if you need a resolution to secure or protect an area in your life from the influence of the world or the flesh. If so, write it down and ask God to guide you on how to implement it.

2. Use Godly Means

But Daniel … asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way. Now God had caused the official to show favor and compassion to Daniel. (Daniel 1:8-9 NIV)

Now when Daniel learned that the document was signed, he entered his house (and in his roof chamber he had windows open toward Jerusalem); and he continued kneeling on his knees three times a day, praying and offering praise before his God, just as he had been doing previously. (Daniel 6:10 NASB)

Jesus said, “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41 NIV). He also said, “Apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5 NASB). Godly goals need the power of the Holy Spirit. Daniel relied on God for strength. He set His mind and hope in God. God’s goal pursued God’s way equals success.

At the end of the ten days they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food. …In every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king questioned them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his whole kingdom. (Daniel 1:15, 20 NIV)

Are you abiding in Christ with your mind set on pleasing your Lord? Or are you so focused on your goal that you’ve lost the joy of fellowshipping with Him?

Daniel relied on God for strength. He set His mind and hope in God. God’s goal pursued God’s way equals #success. #NewYearsResolutions Click To Tweet

3. Find Godly Support 

Then Daniel … explained the matter to his friends Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. He urged them to plead for mercy from the God of heaven. (Daniel 2:17-18 NIV)

Daniel asked permission from the pagan supervisor to help him get a clean diet, but he enlisted the support of his believing friends. The four Hebrews shared the same diet, same faith, and practiced the same values. They looked out for each other and prayed for each other. When Daniel was promoted, he recommended his friends to the king.

Who shares your faith, values, concerns, and/or aspirations in this area? How can you support each other?


  • What resolutions (not just New Year’s) guard you?
  • Whose power do you rely on to keep them?
  • What godly companions can you enlist to support you on your journey?

But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided to you.” (Matthew 16:33 NASB)

Comment here.



Would you like to learn more about Daniel and the men and women in Hebrews 11? Check out Little Strength, Big God.

Sometimes I link with these great sites:

#InstaEncouraements, #TellHisStory, #Let’sHaveCoffee, #Grace&Truth

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  1. Joanne Viola

    Debbie, such a good post for this time of year. “Godly goals need the power of the Holy Spirit. Daniel relied on God for strength.” May we ask the Lord for the needed resolve to live each day so our lives are fully honoring Him.

    • Debbie W. Wilson

      Amen! You put it well, Joanne.

  2. Ann Musico

    “Godly goals need the power of the Holy Spirit.” Amen to that! This hits on so many important ways to make resolutions that actually matter in the grand scheme of things.

    • Debbie W. Wilson

      Ann, we need Him every day! Thanks so much for being a faithful encourager!

  3. Barbara Latta

    Daniel has always been an inspiration to me. His steadfast faith and determination make him a great example. He was surrounded by a pagan lifestyle yet he remained dedicated to God. Rather than make resolutions, I try to look at my new year as establishing new habits.

    • Debbie W. Wilson

      Barbara, Daniel is one of my favorites, as you can probably tell! 🙂 I’m not a resolution maker either. But remembering Daniel’s resolve made me consider how in changing times I may need to make some resolves.

  4. J.D. Wininger

    I’m not much of a “resolutions” guy. Tried it a few times, always failed early on. What I’ve learned, and it aligns well with your excellent points ma’am, is that unless it’s aligned with God’s will, it will almost always fail. It doesn’t matter hard stubborn you are to see it through, unless God allows it, it ain’t gonna work. Great post Ms. Debbie. Very timely ma’am.

    • Debbie W. Wilson

      J.D., I’m not a New Year resolution gal either. I am challenged by Daniel’s resolutions and realize I may need to think about the boundaries I need to set while living in this topes-turvey world.

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