Why you can’t keep your New Year’s Resolutions

Why you can’t keep your New Year’s Resolutions

Set some New Year’s Resolutions, but broken them already? We’ll tell you why (and give you tips on how to stick to them - it’s not too late to restart!)
January 21 2021 learning

Cast your mind back to a couple of weeks ago. You’re sat, proudly, with your shiny new notepad and pen, having written out your New Year’s Resolutions. 


  • Run a 10k
  • Cook three vegan meals a week from scratch
  • Read at least 12 books


Now, zoom (sorry) all the way back to the present. Does the reality look a little more like this? 

Crap, where did I put my trainers?” 

“I guess it’s takeout again!”

“OMG… how is it *insert time here* already?! I swear I only opened Instagram for five minutes… 


Sound all too familiar? You’re not alone. Studies have shown that only 19% of people actually keep to their resolutions.

Making resolutions is FAR easier than actually keeping them. Despite the fact that our intentions are good on New Year’s Day, it doesn’t take long before they’ve fallen by the wayside and you’re back into some old habits. “Why can’t I stick to it?!” you ask. 

We’ve got the answer: 

Because they’re boring. Or you’re putting too much pressure on yourself, your goal isn’t specific enough or you’re too impatient. These resolutions are likely to be ones that you’ve either a) set yourself before and not stuck to, or b) new things that you feel like you ‘should’ be doing. Don’t panic though, all is not lost! We’re here to help (and rip up the rulebook.) 

We’ve got a few tips on how to stick to those New Year’s Resolutions - it’s never too late to (re)start! 

Make it fun

You won’t stick to something if you’re bored by it. If you dislike reading, there’s no point in setting a goal to “Buy German books” and then poring over an old German textbook from 1998 that you picked up in a charity shop because it was “a bargain” and you “could really do with learning some phrases”. Learning needs to be fun, because when something’s fun, it helps you learn better and retain more information.

If you prefer watching videos, why not set a resolution to discover a new German Youtuber each month and immerse yourself in their content? You might feel like it’s a weird way to achieve your resolutions, but  hear us out: With fun activities and learning methods, your brain gets a hit of dopamine. This sends a trigger to your brain’s pleasure system, making said activity seem rewarding. (It’s why you can scroll through tons of funny Instagram reels without getting bored, even though you’re not really doing anything particularly beneficial for your brain) But with this dopamine hit, you’ll be more inclined to carry on with your goals and ultimately achieve them! 

Under Pressure

Pushing down on you, pushing down on me… ahem. Take the pressure off yourself! Life can be busy. In between work, home-schooling, trying to fit in a call with friends and the never-ending mountain of laundry that seems to be there, resolutions can go out the window, So how do you fix it? Start by reducing the number of resolutions you set yourself, or make a plan to start them throughout the year. There’s no need to drop everything to become the next Olympic athlete by January 31st.

There’s also such a thing as decision making fatigue. The more decisions that you have to make, the weaker your willpower will be as the day goes on. Even if they’re minor decisions like deciding whether to spend 5 minutes learning a new language or carry on scrolling through social media, they all have an effect on your decision making process. In this scenario, your phone is here to help. Why not set reminders to lay your gym kit out the night before so it’s ready to go in the morning? These small steps could help with a more successful track record with New Year’s Resolutions. If you’re looking to learn a language, Memrise lets you set daily goals and learning reminders to keep you motivated and on-track.

memrise language app screenshot daily goals learning reminders

Get Specific 

When your goals are generic and lack a timeframe (think “get fit” or “learn Spanish”) then it’s likely that you won’t track your progress (or even make any in the first place!) Resolutions that are specific and realistic in scope are key. Try something like “Run a mile in less than ten minutes by April” or “Learn 100 words in Spanish by my Summer holiday”. You can plan how to achieve these goals a lot more easily and with small, manageable steps. 

If you’re numbers-driven, then this kind of specificity is great! But what about if you aren’t? Flexibility is key. Make it a number range, for example: “I want to learn between 50-100 Spanish words in 3-4 months”. This is another tool to help take the pressure off (see above!) but will also allow you to feel accomplished when you achieve it. 

Patience, young grasshopper 

Don’t try and do it all at once! Remember, you’ve got the whole year to achieve these goals. Take it slowly and don’t worry if you need to take a few days away from things. If you feel rushed to get everything done at once, the likelihood is you’ll feel discouraged and will break your resolution. 

Don’t worry! It’s been found that if you have a couple of off-days here and there, there won’t be much of an effect on your overall progress. So have patience with yourself! If there’s a setback like a running injury or you’ve not learned as many words as you wanted to, don’t give up! Instead, take things one day at a time and feel proud of the progress you’re making.

So there we have it. That’s why you’ve broken your New Year’s Resolution already. Because it’s either boring, you’re putting too much pressure on yourself, your goal isn’t specific enough or you’re too impatient! But now you know that, you can use that shiny new notebook and pen to write some goals down that you know you can achieve. If you’re looking for a fun, engaging way to learn a language, then we’ve got an app for that.