Updated November 16, 2015

New Year's Resolution Statistics: 23 Facts to Keep


If you're looking forward to shaking off a bad habit or improving your life, here are 23 New Year's resolution statistics to help you get the year started off on the right foot.

A lot of people start their year with a list of lofty goals, but unfortunately, most of us forget all about them soon enough. Despite high failure rates, we keep doing it, year after year, as we try to lose pounds, quit a bad habit, or just try to be an all-around better person.

1. You're not alone in making resolutions

If you join the resolution bandwagon after the ball drops, you’ll be in good company. Approximately 45% of Americans make at least one resolution in January.

2. But you might be the only one keeping them

Whether it's a lack of willpower or unrealistic goals that are to blame, most people have difficulty sticking to their New Year's resolutions. Just 8% of people who make them will still be committed to them by the end of the year.

3. Especially if you're crunched for time

How well you manage your time apparently has a significant influence over whether you're able to maintain your resolutions during the year. Nearly 40% said that the number one reason they couldn’t follow through was their need to juggle too many other activities.

4. Where you live determines whether you make resolutions

You wouldn’t think geography would make much of a difference when it comes to making resolutions, but surprisingly, it does. 65% of residents in the Sunshine State were likely to resolve to make improvements in the New Year, versus 59% of New Yorkers and 58% of Californians.

5. Fitness-related resolutions top the list for most people

If you're like most people, getting in shape, losing weight, and eating better have probably landed on your January to-do list at least once — or possibly every year since you first stood on a scale. 12% of people said they planned to exercise more in 2014 while 11% wanted to shed some extra pounds. Another 8% vowed to stop smoking and start eating better.

6. Even though the failure rate is pretty high

Getting physically fit is easier said than done, and sometimes, making the effort becomes too much to handle. A whopping 73% of people who included some type of fitness goal when making their resolutions gave up before they reached the finish line. And 42% said it was just too difficult to stick to a regimen while 36% blamed a lack of time.

7. Some people want to lose more than others

Many folks prefer to aim high, especially when it comes to weight loss. When asked how much weight they resolved to drop in the New Year, a quarter said they wanted to get rid of 40 pounds or more. Another 30% thought that losing 10 to 20 pounds would be ideal.

8. But you're better off starting small

One of the reasons why people seem to have so much difficulty adhering to their resolutions is they set the bar too high. Deciding that you're going to run a marathon may seem impossible, but you can take some of the pressure off by taking small steps (run a 10K one year, then a half marathon, before taking on the 26 miler). 35% of those who successfully fulfilled their resolutions broke them down into more easily achievable goals.

9. A few would pay big bucks to lose extra pounds

The weight loss industry is valued at around $60 billion, which just goes to show how much money some people are willing to shell out to slim down. When asked to put a dollar amount on how much they'd pay to magically lose more weight, 65% of said they wouldn't fork over more than $249. On the other hand, 12% were willing to spend at least $1,000, and 1% were okay with spending more than $10,000.

10. Women are more likely to make resolutions than men

Studies show that being of the female persuasion makes you more apt to jot down a resolution or two for the New Year. 52% of women surveyed said they planned to make at least one resolution going into 2014, compared to 48% of men.

11. Men tend to have more success with meeting their goals

While women tend to be slightly more proactive about making resolutions, it's actually men who seem to be better at working towards them. In terms of goals like taking medications properly, eating a better diet, exercising more frequently, and getting more sleep, men reported success rates ranging from 7 to 17% higher compared to their female counterparts.

12. January is a critical month

For many people, the first month after making a resolution is the hardest, but if you can get through it, you significantly up the odds of it becoming a permanent change. Unfortunately, roughly 1 in 3 people won't even last 31 days, so you really have to buckle down and keep your eyes on the prize if you want to still be going strong by February.

13. Just about everybody wants to manage their money better

If you're going to start off yet another year in debt or you still haven't figured out how to fine-tune your budget, getting your finances on track should be a top priority. 12% agreed that spending less and saving more would be a goal in 2014. Getting out of debt also rose to the number one spot on New Year resolution list.

Tip: How to Get Out of Debt

14. And most of them agree on how to do it

Fifty-five% said they were counting on taking advantage of deals and coupons to cut their costs. Respondents said they'd be willing to shop less, cook at home more often, find cheaper housing, or consider a career change.

15. Best time to plan your resolutions isn't in December

It's actually August. An analysis of goal completion success rates among StickK users showed that August tends to be the best month for following through on new commitments, while January is hands-down the worst.

16. Three-month mark is a major accomplishment

If you can tough it out for 90 days, you've got a much better shot at making the change permanent. Nearly 40% of people who make resolutions forget about them by March, but the dropout rate levels off substantially after that point.

17. Accountability helps you stay the course

Having someone to cheer you on or call you out when you break the rules is a great way to stay on the right track with your resolutions. 59% of those who had a "referee" to monitor their progress eventually achieved their goal compared to 29% who were going it alone.

18. Money is an even better incentive

Dangling a financial carrot in front of your nose may be just the push you need to stand your ground when it comes to your New Year's resolutions. The idea is that you'll be more likely to hang in there, and according to StickK data, almost 80% of users report success when there's money on the line.

19. Commitment counts

Just saying you're going to make a New Year's resolution really isn't enough; you have to have the right mindset and be completely dedicated to what you want to do. Despite the fact that around 60% of people have stumbled on keeping their resolutions by the six-month point, those who make the initial commitment are still 10 times more likely to successfully change their behavior.

20. Older people tend to be set in their ways

The older you get, the harder it becomes to ditch certain habits or bad behaviors. Middle age is when people begin to slow down on their resolution making. When asked how likely they were to make a resolution in the new year, 54% of people under age 45 said very likely, compared to 37 of those aged 45 and up.

21. Resolutions aren't just an American thing

The U.S. isn't the only place where residents are making resolutions. In Canada, around 51% of the population pledges to do something different in the New Year. Only about 20% make it through the year with their resolutions intact while another 19% go off the rails before the first 24 hours have passed.

22. Canadians approach resolutions a little differently

While things like losing weight and saving money are just as important to our northern neighbors, their resolutions sometimes reflect different goals. 15% of those polled said their top resolution was to spend more time with friends and family. Some of the more out-there responses included becoming a millionaire, cutting out French fries, saving the world, and just being awesome.

23. You could just not make any at all

It's impossible to beat yourself up about not keeping your resolutions if you haven't made any. That's a sentiment echoed by approximately 38% of Americans. If all your friends are vowing to make major life changes starting in January, but you're pretty content with the way things are, that’s OK. There’s always next year.

Sources and References:

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Comments about New Year's Resolution Statistics: 23 Facts to Keep

  • the Roamer from California
    on December 22, 2014 1:58 PM said:

    This was a great post with regard at having statistics.
    But why use the word resolution and goal interchangeably I think they are different.
    If men make goals and women make resolutions no wonder. Goals require planning resolutions just require wishful thinking.

  • Jason from New Jersey
    on December 30, 2014 4:12 AM said:

    I don't do resolutions but set goals which helps me mentally achieve them. I focus on 4 areas of my life which includes health, money, travel and relationships. When I used to do resolutions I realized I focused on stopping something rather than accomplishing.

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