Stop Making New Year Resolutions Which Will Fail!

Foo Jit Hwee

Good friends tell you important things that are pleasing to the ears. Best friends tell you important things that are not pleasing to the ears. It is in this spirit that I’d like to warn you about the hard truth – you will make new (mostly recycled and rebranded) resolutions in 2024 that will fail! Do you know what is the outcome for most people who go on a DIET plan? Just read out the first three letters of the word “DIET.” An October 2023 survey from Forbes Health of 1,000 U.S. adults revealed that only 6% of the respondents stick with their health goal for longer than 12 months, and less than 30% lasted more than two months!

Main Reasons Most of Us Fail in Our Resolution

1) We do not have a strong “Why.”

This is the most crucial factor, as a strong “why” will empower us to deal with any “what” and “how.” Colonel Sanders franchised his secret recipe for Kentucky Fried Chicken for the first time in 1952. He was so convinced of his secret recipe for frying chicken in a pressure fryer, which cooked the chicken faster and tastier than pan-frying, that he never gave up despite 1,009 rejections.

On a less inspiring note, I would like to recount how my second son learned to cycle. During his pre-school days, the feedback from all his teachers was always the same: Justin was slow, not motivated, and uninterested in anything! I wanted him to break free from those labels and cajoled him to commit to riding a bicycle on two wheels when he reached six. I tried all methods, including a balancing bicycle, or a scooter, holding a pole, or using my hand to support him (this is backbreaking), praying (I am a freethinker), and even taunting by his elder brother (yes, blessed by evil me). However, Justin tended to give up after about 20 minutes each time.

On his sixth birthday, my last throw of the dice started on an ominous note when he crashed against a stationary van and injured himself. To my surprise, he soldiered on for more than an hour that day with caked blood on his knees and miraculously learned how to cycle on two wheels. Deep within, Justin wanted to prove that outsiders have no right to author his autobiography. My spirits soared when he cycled with unbridled joy, knowing that was a pivotal fork in his life’s road.

2) We are not clear about our goal.

We are very unlikely to hit a target when we do not even know where the target board is. Worse, action bias resulting in irrelevant or incorrect actions means we are likely to land further away from our intended goal. Examples of vague targets include better physical and financial health, saving our planet, and achieving world peace.

3) We do not have the right tool or methodology.

Ray Kroc worked aimlessly in a variety of jobs before he purchased and led the global expansion of McDonald’s. Without the efficiency and speed of the restaurant’s operations engineered by Richard and Maurice McDonald, Ray’s marketing flair and entrepreneurship were in hibernation for thirty years.

Dick Fosbury turned his high jump event upside down when he pioneered the “Fosbury Flop” and achieved his lifetime goal of winning the Olympic gold medal in 1968. His technique involved a backward jump that enabled athletes to use the natural arch of their backs to propel themselves over the high jump bar instead of the then-standard straddle jump, which involved a jumper crossing the bar face down with legs straddling it. Nowadays, the “Fosbury Flop” is the only type of jump employed by athletes at the Olympics.

4) We do not have the right support system.

The only time I achieved a sub-10-minute 2.4 km run for my Individual Physical Proficiency Test was during my Basic Military Training. An inspiring Sergeant Chew pushed our whole platoon to reach new records with his sincere sending of kind regards to our parents (in Hokkien dialect) and his super motivational speech on how his grandmother can run faster than us.

How often have your best-laid dieting plans been derailed by Six Sigma, black swan events such as your supportive spouse excitedly sharing the irresistible 30% promotion by a food delivery company?


I reiterate my conviction that a strong “why” will be the single most essential element of success. Examples include:

  • The motivation to create a new life for yourself where you are happier and healthier as the perfect response to the partner who has criticised your looks and has cheated on you.
  • The fantasy to achieve financial independence and to march up to your obnoxious boss with the “You will never be enough” smirk and unrealistic “everything everywhere all at once” expectations and to high jump and shout out “I am quitting to pursue my dream of not working here” in slow, dramatic motion. To my boss who is reading this and wondering what the source of the passion and intensity of this example is, my friends…
  • The desire to create a trust with enough assets to ensure a younger loved one with special needs would be well taken care of for life.

For the 94% of us who will fail in our resolution in less than one year, stop wasting time coming out with new resolutions. Our enemies would be pleased to author our autobiographies and label us a specialist in failure. I am not talking about you, of course. Your friends…

For the 6% of you (yes, you) who will succeed and whose goal encompasses financial planning, Providend can help. Our client advisers do send sincere and respectful kind regards to your parents (in English and Mandarin) and motivate you by reminding you how their grandmothers can do better.

This is an original article written by Foo Jit Hwee, Associate Adviser at Providend, the first fee-only wealth advisory firm in Southeast Asia and a leading wealth advisory firm in Asia.

If you are interested in joining our Providend Associate Adviser Programme, kindly visit this link to find out more:

For more related resources, check out:
1. Money Wisdom Podcast S1E26: How to Invest Towards Your Financial Goals
2. Starting Your 2023 Well with Ctrl-Alt-Del
3. How to Achieve Your Financial Goals with Greater Certainty

*Providend is very excited to share that we are now ready to extend our service offerings to the younger accumulators who are looking for holistic, independent, conflict-free wealth advice!

For this group of younger accumulators, we know that it is not easy to make retirement planning a priority when other financial goals – buying a first home, for example, or saving for a child’s education – appear more pressing. Learn how we can help here.

We do not charge a fee at the first consultation meeting. If you would like an honest second opinion on your current investment portfolio, financial and/or retirement plan, make an appointment with us today.

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