Why You'll Break Your New Year's Resolutions, Based on Your Personality Type

I hate to be the bearer of bad news so early into the New Year but you know those resolutions you’ve just made? You’ve got around a one in twelve chance of sticking to any one of them. So if you make three resolutions, there’s only a 0.0579% chance that you’ll achieve all three. In fact, you probably will abandon mission completely by “Fail Friday.” That’s the dark, dark day around the 26th January when the nation’s collective willpower seems to run out.

As someone who routinely makes, then abandons, her high falutin’ plans, these are pretty sobering statistics. What gives? Are we really so bad at breaking bad habits (or establishing better ones)? Or is it the kinds of resolution we make that means we’re mostly unsuccessful?

Here’s a roundup of the type of resolution you’ve probably been making, why you’re failing, and how to pick a personality-appropriate resolution that you can actually stick to in 2018.  

ENFP

Typical resolution: “This year I’m going to lose weight, exercise more, manage debt, take up hip hop / belly dancing / yoga, spend more time with family, read more, make a business plan, travel, organize my photos, do Meatless Mondays ……..”   

Why you fail: …..and breathe! You’re not exactly known for your follow through, ENFP, so why on earth are you overloading yourself with 15 new goals when there are still 20 resolutions you didn’t get around to achieving last year?   

This year: Forget the resolutions; you really don’t need anything else on your plate. Instead, make an effort to follow through by doing the things you say you are going to do. Actually completing some things you’ve already started will set you up for success.  

ENFJ

Typical resolution: “This year I’m going to help my brother land a better job and make sure Susie and Michael sort out their relationship troubles. And something has to be done about that new manager who’s always putting her foot in it at work….”

Why you fail: Are your brother/Michael/Susie down with these personal interventions of yours? It’s great that you want to help others and inspire them to achieve in this world, but not everyone will commit to your plans. Plus, how can you expect to help others if you neglect yourself?

This year: You enjoy making resolutions and putting a little check mark next to them. But resolutions should not be totally dependent on someone else’s involvement. This year, try setting goals that include others but are not dependent on them for the goal’s success. For example, you could resolve to learn a new skill by attending a new class with a friend. If the friend doesn’t show up, you can still attend the class! See if you can re-frame your resolutions so they prioritize self-care.

INFJ

Typical resolution: “I really want to achieve [insert huge personal dream] but I’m not going to tell anyone about it in case I fail.”

Why you fail: Err…..because you’ve already persuaded yourself that you will?

This year: Self doubt is the INFJs worst enemy. Why not tell your friends and family what you're aiming for so they can be your cheerleaders and keep you motivated to achieve your dreams? And be sure to only make goals that matter to you. If your introverted intuition is telling you that it’s the right resolution for you, you’ll have more faith that you’ll be able to accomplish it with ease.

INFP

Typical resolution: “I’m going to lose 10lb by April 1st/read three books every month/make five new friends.”

Why you fail: Oh, INFP. You’ve been reading business books again, haven’t you? You know that you’re supposed to create goals that are specific, measurable and connected to a hard time limit, but you’re a spontaneous soul. If there’s no room for changing (or scrapping) your goals, then you’re going to feel overwhelmed and uncomfortable, and your good intentions will quickly bite the dust.  

This year: Resolutions are generally appealing to you but you need to think of them as a “life list” that you can adjust and refine as you go along rather than short-term goals that are set in stone. The most important thing to you is the feeling a goal gives you, not the specifics. No matter the reason, you know you’d be happier if you just spent more time doing the thing that feels right in the moment.

ENTJ

Typical resolution: You’re not a New Year’s resolution kind of person. You don't write things down to be done later, or on a certain date. If you want to do something, you just do it.

Why you fail: ENTJ? Fail? *Rolls eyes at the improbability of it all.*

This year: You’ll just do what's needed like usual, you winner. But if there’s one resolution you should be making, it’s to relax and let some things just happen. R&R is your friend. Without it, you could bite off more than you can chew and wind up exhausted.

INTJ

Typical resolution: “This year I will become a better conversationalist/do more things outside my home/ improve my employment situation/get healthy/increase my social network/become richer/find a marriage-worthy life partner/build a system to organize my life” (and other such self-improvement related stuff).

Why you fail: Self-improvement is admirable, but your list is too big picture. We know you have difficulty zooming in on the details, INTJ, but nothing’s ever going to happen unless you try to live in the moment.

This year: You live far too much in the hypothetical world of the future and fail to notice the present passing you by. Correct this by sprinkling a little Sensing into your annual resolutions. Your drive and sharp wit will continue to keep you on top of things, so you can afford to plan less and live more.  

ENTP

Typical resolution: “I resolve to follow this passion (and this passion, and this passion, and this passion); to know twice as many people as I do now; to earn twice as much money; and to have twice as much fun.”

Why you fail: The problem for you, ENTP, is that 12 months is waaaay too long for your taste. Your quick wit and spontaneity make it really hard for you to focus down on which passion to pursue, and if you give yourself 12 whole months to settle on a plan of action, you’ll spend 11 of them messing around with ideas without ever entering the execution phase.      

This year: Make one resolution. Do it. If you don’t succeed, keep trying. Ignore everything else. Also, get an accountabuddy to keep you on track. Having a friend to work with can help to push you out of the brainstorming zone and into success.

INTP

Typical resolution: You don’t make resolutions. Forcing changes in your life just because it’s New Year seems illogical and forced. Plus, they don’t work. You’re still working through the list you made in 2012!  

Why you fail: As with everything else in life, you have your own unique approach to goal setting. Mostly, you’ll do a little soul-searching and resolving when it suits you, not according to some arbitrary calendar date. Problem is, this leaves you on the periphery of the resolution-making world.

This year: Pull out last years’ goals and edit for relevance. Then, start working towards a goal in January. This lets you ride on the back of others’ momentum. For example, you might find that a fitness or mentoring program only exists because it’s January and it’s the time of year when others start looking for these programs. You’ll still think it's stupid to make goals based on a change in number, but you might have more success if you keep in step with others.

ESTP

Typical resolutions: “I resolve to lose weight/get fit/read more/improve myself/…” or anything else abstract that you feel you “should” do because you are personal growth oriented and think you need to do these things or else you're a failure.

Why you fail: You’re bold and spontaneous, ESTP. You are never going to get behind goals that come from an obligatory place.

This year: Stop feeling obligated to make 12-month goals and focus on writing a personal manifesto. Who are you and who do you want to be? How will you live your manifesto?  Write affirmations and reminders to keep you on track and use visualization techniques to imagine yourself as already having achieved the goal. This will keep you motivated. You struggle to focus for too long, ESTP, so taking a relaxed approach will help you to achieve your goals in a much more fun and spontaneous way.

ESFP

Typical resolutions: “I resolve to eat healthy” (it’s day two and already you’ve consumed a chocolate bar and a bag of chips). “I resolve to be more committed to my career.” (You stay out late on a work night and roll in at 10am the next day with a hangover.) “I’ll focus on all the tedious things that must be done.” (You sweet talk a colleague into picking up the slack and head out to engage in your favorite activity, networking.) You get the idea.

Why you fail: You’ll stick to a resolution for the first week before being presented with a better plan and impulsively getting on board with that one instead. Or you’ll forget the goal midway. Or you’ll never set a timeframe. Or you’ll abandon the goals because they’re just too darn restrictive.

This year: Take your longer-term plans and break them into a series of time-based steps. Make space in your schedule each week for doing something towards your goal, even if it’s just 10 minutes. Chart your progress by writing it down. You are exuberant, spontaneous and adaptable, ESFP, but you may lose sight of your aspirations unless you embrace stability and routine.

ISTP

Typical resolution: “I resolve to put more effort into school/work/relationships/beer consumption. Though secretly, I don’t believe in resolutions. I’m just playing along for fun.”

Why you fail: Your resolution-apathy is either admirable or astounding, but it’s safe to say that your resolutions are non-existent and you will continue doing whatever you feel like doing and taking things as they come.

This year: You’re a pragmatist and driven to create functional solutions to problems whenever they arise – why wait until New Year to fix something? And honestly, ISTP, you don’t have the patience when it comes to focusing on things long term. And that’s OK. Nevertheless, it’s a good idea to have one or two larger goals at the back of your mind. That way, you can put your frequent bursts of concentrated energy toward something truly worthwhile.

ISFP

Typical resolution: Resolutions, blah. You hate long-term commitments and actively avoid planning for the future. Either that, or you’ll go all-in with “I am giving up coffee,” or “I’m never shopping again” then give up after three days because they leave no room for flexibility and imagination.

Why you fail: Some personalities get no value from making New Year’s resolutions and you’re one of them – your commitment to long-term plans fades about as quickly as the ink fades from the paper. What’s more, you have a habit of turning the smallest goal into intense competition. If someone expresses a similar resolution to you, there’s a risk you’ll go all out to beat them instead of focusing on long-term self-improvement.

This year: Resolutions are really just wishes with an obligation attached which is why you don’t like them. Instead, focus on creating new daily habits that will bring different results – there’s plenty of information on the internet to help you replace bad habits with good ones. Stop comparing yourself to others and use your fierce independence to bring about change.

ISTJ

Typical resolution: You love New Year! It’s the perfect time to make lists, plans and schedules and to plan ahead. Whether you’re resolving to practice your musical instrument, exercise more, or get a well-deserved promotion, we bet you have designed the perfect plan for achieving your goals.

Why you fail: You don’t. While we haven’t seen any data on this, we suspect that you are the one impressive person in 12 who actually achieves their resolutions. Go, you!

This year: You have rad resolution credentials, ISTJ so keep doing what you’re doing. But ….. are you sure that you are setting the right goals? It’s easy for you to commit to going to the gym three times a week, but what about the trickier self-reflection stuff like learning patience with others? Have you resolved to quit your high expectations and accept people (and yourself) as they are? How about asking others for help? Knowing when to say “no”? This year, see if you can shift your resolutions away from task accomplishment and challenge yourself to embrace the unpredictable joys in life.

ESTJ

Typical resolution: “I resolve to save $6,000/lose 15 lbs by my son’s wedding/take my family on a trip to Disneyland in July.”

Why you fail: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely – you sure know how to make SMART resolutions, ESTJ! I’m guessing that you’ve developed goal achievement strategies and have planned for the unpredictable, too. You shall not fail.

This year: You work very hard to make sure that the practical needs of your family are met and spend a great deal of time focusing on what needs to be done. Going into 2018, why not take a step back and review your own accomplishments? Relax a little and learn to give yourself credit for all the good things you do. Like the ISTJ, you’ll also benefit from replacing some of your task-accomplishment based goals with resolutions that test and challenge who you really are.

ESFJ

Typical resolution: “I resolve to help others more.”

Why you fail: You’re a warm and loyal friend who likely will help others more. But will that help you to step out of your comfort zone and gain a greater degree of self-confidence?

This year: ESFJs, like most Guardians, enjoy structure and consistency in their lives. You like to make resolutions and work towards them in sequential, attainable steps which sets you up for successful goal attainment. The trick is finding the right resolution. It isn’t selfish to focus on you, so think about some goals that benefit you and only you. Motivation comes from being part of a community with shared interests and goals such as a diet club or online forum. That way, you get to help others and celebrate their successes while meeting your own needs, too.

ISFJ

Typical resolution: You like the idea of resolutions but are fearful of enacting them, particularly if your actions will inconvenience someone else. A situation sometimes has to reach breaking point before you are motivated to change it.  

Why you fail: You really like routine, which makes it hard for you to break a bad habit that has become deeply entrenched. You also take criticism personally, and even a minor setback could cause you to abandon your goals.

This year: Resolve to replace one bad habit with one good habit, then work really hard to substitute the new habit into your routine. Push for small, incremental improvements each day. Ideally, find an accountability partner to discuss your achievements, struggles and goals. Take it slowly so you don’t get overwhelmed.

Phew – that’s it – the mega list of personality types and the resolutions we likely are going to be making and breaking this year. The question is, do you follow your type? Or do you have your own unique approach to making resolutions? Let us know in the comments below. And Happy New Year!

Jayne Thompson

Jayne is a freelance copywriter, business writing blogger and the blog editor here at Truity. One part word nerd, two parts skeptic, she helps writing-challenged clients discover the amazing power of words on a page. Jayne is an INTJ and lives in Yorkshire, UK with her ENTJ husband and two baffling children. Find Jayne at White Rose Copywriting.

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