Personal Development

The Real Reason We Fail at Our New Year’s Resolutions

Expertise: Personal Development, Personal Finance, Mortgages & Creative Financing, Real Estate News & Commentary, Business Management, Real Estate Investing Basics, Flipping Houses
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A quick story to demonstrate the point. When I was in my 20s and my wife couldn’t make meatloaf to save her life, we took a short one hour trip up the old 395 to Grandma’s house. Her meatloaf recipe was 5-star. Long story short, she tried the “smidgeon of this, pinch of that” stuff with me at first. I wasn’t havin’ it. “Grandma, her meatloaf surrenders at the mere sight of a fork, collapsing into meatloaf gruel. What’s your secret? I’m beggin’ ya, please.”

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She then came clean. Simply cut the eggs in half and double the bread crumbs. Voilà! My lovely bride could make world class meatloaf. I loved her new batch so much, I ate meatloaf sandwiches for almost the whole week. It’s still a fun family story.

What’s the Missing Ingredient of the Goal-Obtaining Equation?

Unlike me in the meatloaf saga, most of us know the answer. It’s what one of my mentors called “do or die commitment.” I knew how to obtain my goal and exactly how to get it. But knowing how things are accomplished isn’t the answer to making our goals reality, is it? No, this isn’t gonna be a rah rah, get excited and to the HappyDance post about obtaining your goals.

It’s about how to get from the original excitement generated from that first embryonic thought and writing it down to the euphoria of living the reality of achieving what that thought envisioned and what those words you wrote communicated.

Let’s Do an Experiment

As a former bodybuilder, I know there are goals requiring intense effort and fierce commitment. Try this one — let’s do pushups. Begin in the “up” position, with a slightly wider than normal spread between your hands. Now, instead of just doin’ pushups, which anyone can do, here’s the challenge.

Take five full seconds to go all the way down, then immediately start back up, taking another five full seconds. Do 10 of ’em. You can’t do it. You’ll hafta do however many you can, rest a bit, and do more ’til you’ve done 10. I’ve asked young guys in pretty decent shape to do this, and they’ve scoffed at me. ‘Course, that’s when I set the hook and bet ’em coffee and a cookie they can’t do it right then. Nobody has done yet on their first try. Nobody. The closest anyone got was a very strong construction buddy, who did eight before collapsing in self disgust. I’m sure it didn’t help that I was laughin’ my butt off. 🙂 This guy can do 40 pushups on demand, but couldn’t do this.

Related: The Rewards of Commitment: Why You Should Learn to Do Your Best With the Skills You Have

The Experiment: How long will it take you to be able to do it? That’s your goal. Just 10 of these very challenging pushups. The commitment required is a bit daunting. Don’t like this experiment? Not a problem. What would you like to accomplish before the end of January? It should be something in which you’re keenly interested. Your dedication to the achievement of whatever you choose should be unreasonable to the casual onlooker.

What you wanna do is prove to yourself that overwhelming and sometimes unreasonable personal commitment is what’s missing when setting and NOT achieving our goals. This is why, for instance, many of the goals I have goin’ into the new year have been set aside. When I was brutally honest with myself, I knew I wasn’t “burn my ships” devoted to making it reality.

Unreasonable Commitment

I realize this is beyond common knowledge for most of us. Yet ’til I begin to demand of myself the degree of resolve I knew was needed, most of my goals didn’t last ’til kickoff at the Super Bowl. Each year we must ask ourselves if our time was well spent, at least according to our own standards. If you’re unhappy with the answer, I suggest unreasonable commitment to your goals may be the answer for which you’re looking.

Think of the commitment you had when your kid injured themselves playing and you knew you had to get to the ER a minute ago. You were like the pig in the bacon ‘n eggs story. The hen was kinda sorta committed, but the pig was unreasonably committed. 🙂

The inherent problem with that principle is that it’s so unflinchingly simple. Yet, it’s also ruthlessly effective when applied. John wants to get back to the 32″ waist he had just a few years ago. He knows the way to get it done, which is beyond simple. Yet it’s been one of his main goals for several years now, and he’s even bigger. The only reason for his ceaseless failure is his lukewarm commitment. His mirror mocks him at every opportunity. As a matter of fact, isn’t “lukewarm commitment” an oxymoronic phrase? 🙂

Related: Hustle: The Single Most Important Factor to Finding Real Estate Deals

Is becoming a successful real estate/note investor important to you and your loved ones? Is retiring with more annual income than you ever made on the job a must? If so, are you unreasonably committed to making it happen? Sadly, most give lip service to that level of dedication, but when it comes to walkin’ their talk, the lack of results speak for themselves.

Harsh? For sure. True? Absolutely.

It’s simple human nature.


We achieve goals that are of most importance to us. Try the pushup challenge for fun. Commit to being able to do 10 of ’em. Prove to yourself you can literally accomplish any goal that’s important to you. Setting goals, writing them down, and listing all the actions needed to make them our reality doesn’t get ’em done. We do what’s vitally important to us, regardless of the self-insulting propaganda we feed ourselves.

But then we already knew that, right? None of this can possibly be news to you.

Get something — anything — done by the end of January. Have it be something important to you. I’ve happily learned that once my unwavering and pigheaded commitment is added to the recipe, achieving the goal is a virtual lock. The more we apply this principle, the higher our goal setting batting average rises. It’s as reliable as physics.

It takes little dedication to set a goal. It takes intransigent determination to make it reality.

What goals are you setting for yourself this year? What steps are you taking to truly COMMIT to those goals? What methods have worked for you in the past?

Share your stories and tips in the comments section below!

Licensed since 1969, broker/owner since 1977. Extensively trained and experienced in tax deferred exchanges, and long term retirement planning.
    Paul Doane Real Estate Agent from Tiny, Ontario
    Replied about 6 years ago
    I tried did 3, but l blame it on being 62 yrs old. Great piece passing it on to my friends thank you
    Jeff Brown from San Diego, CA
    Replied about 6 years ago
    Hey Paul — I’m in better shape than most, but not nearly as good a shape as I’m used to. I’m up to 6, rest, than 4. I’m completely spent after each set. It’s 10 or bust by the Super Bowl. 🙂