According to a recent study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology, only 8 percent of people who make New Year’s resolutions will successfully achieve their chosen goal. This begs the question… Why is it that so many people fall short of their resolutions?

The purpose of sharing this rather gloomy statistic is not to discourage you from creating a resolution, but to make you aware of the various pitfalls that might occur along the way. I want you to be one of the 8 percent that succeeds. Armed with an awareness of the possible pitfalls, you will be more likely to navigate around them instead of being sucked into their destructive nature.

Pitfall No. 1 — We rely on willpower alone.

There’s a reason why gym memberships soar and self-help books fly off of the shelf during the first few weeks of January. When a resolution is made, the resulting energy and excitement fuels a level of willpower that naturally promotes immediate action. The act of signing up for a gym membership or purchasing a “how to” book is a result of this newfound sense of willpower. Unfortunately, willpower alone is not sustainable as our habitual nature will eventually supercede. It’s important to be aware of the fact that it’s often our ineffective habits, not a lack of willpower, that prevent us from achieving our goals.

How can we avoid this pitfall?

We first make our habits, then our habits make us. In order to change a habit, you must own the fact that you created it. When you shift the blame to various circumstances or people in your life, the habit will only gain more power. Wake up each day with a New Day resolution to replace the old habit with a new one.

Pitfall No. 2 — We adopt an “all or nothing” approach.

While I’m not encouraging you to fail, chances are there are going to be setbacks throughout your resolution journey. If you’ve adopted an “all or nothing” approach, the first setback you encounter may deter you from moving forward. This is where the self-sabotage sets in and you consequently label yourself as a failure, which is paralyzing in nature.

How can you avoid this pitfall?

Learn to embrace the failure and realize that your resolution is still possible despite the setbacks.

Pitfall No. 3 — We don’t have an accountability partner.

During the first few months of your resolution, your self-discipline may be quite strong because the goal is still fresh in your mind. Following this honeymoon period; however, your level of commitment may diminish. My favorite definition of commitment is to do what you said you would do, long after the feeling you had when you said it is gone. Let’s face it, there are going to be times when we don’t “feel” like honoring the resolution. This is where an accountability partner comes in. They are not there to force you to do anything, but rather to give you that gentle reminder of your goal.

How can you avoid this pitfall?

Find someone who can serve in this capacity. Perhaps it’s a friend or a colleague who you see or communicate with often.

I wish you tremendous success with regard to each of your resolutions. Please remember that the journey is equally important to the destination. The person you will become throughout this process will no doubt shape your future in a positive way.

• Mike Sissel is a former Kyrene teacher who now owns and operates a youth leadership company called KaleidoEye. KaleidoEye’s signature program, Lenses of Leadership, is administered in various schools throughout Ahwatukee. For more information, visit or email

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