Student Life

Sticking With It: New Year's Resolutions


By: Filiz Undemir & Tom Rigg

Students participating in a group fitness session outdoors.
Students participating in last year's fitJMU event at UREC.  Photo provided by University Recreation.

“THIS IS THE YEAR I’m going to stick to my New Year’s resolution!” How many times have you heard that before? How long did they last?

With a new year comes a new beginning, an opportunity to start off fresh. Everyone wants to stop a bad habit, or develop a good one. What better time is there to start the new you than New Year’s Day? The reality is you do not have to postpone taking action on your life until a new year comes around. In our minds it makes perfect sense to make New Year’s resolutions—it has a set starting point, bad habits will be left in the past, and a ton of other people are doing it! Then why, after a few weeks, does the inspiration to change wear off? There are many ideas on this, including how to achieve your goals.

The majority of JMU students made resolutions to go to the gym more often and to eat and drink better. These students said they were moderately successful, however, their motivation dwindled soon after they started these new behaviors. Reasons for being unsuccessful were not being able to fit the gym into their schedule, slip-ups due to stress, and setting more goals than they could handle. Katie Werner, a sophomore said, “I tend to set my goals unrealistically high and after a little bit of failure I end up giving up on it altogether.”

There is no single answer to why many people fail. According to John M. Grohol, PsyD, “individuals with high self-efficacy attribute failure to insufficient effort, while individuals with low self-efficacy attribute failure to deficient ability” (2008). Ideas that could help you be more successful are:

  • Feel whole-hearted about the goals you make
  • Research effective methods for your goal ahead of time (Grohol)
  • Start small; change one behavior at a time (APA)
  • Do not beat yourself up
  • Ask for support from a friend

If you want to change a behavior, start now—you do not have to wait until next year!

For support helping with your fitness, academic, and personal goals, check out:

Career and Academic Planning:
Counseling & Student Development Center:


Making Your New Year's Resolution Stick. (n.d.). American Psychological Association. Retrieved January 27, 2013, from

The Psychology of New Year's Resolutions | World of Psychology. (n.d.). Psych Central - Trusted mental health, depression, bipolar, ADHD and psychology information. Retrieved January 28, 2013, from

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Published: Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Last Updated: Wednesday, April 1, 2020

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