Failing to Follow Your New Year’s Resolutions? Here’s How to Get Back on Track

While some may scoff at the idea of setting New Year’s resolutions, we see huge benefits in the practice. Few things excite us more than seeing friends, family members, and our readers motivated to make changes in their lives when the new year rolls around.

But you know what? January 1 is just another day. If you haven’t made your New Year’s resolutions this year and you feel like you’ve been left behind, or if you’re feeling bad because you’ve already slipped up on some of yours, read on to learn how to change your thinking—and get back on track.

Perform a Mindset Shift

Whether your New Year’s resolutions included starting a brand new morning routine or not, every day can be the day that you start again with your resolutions. In every one of our interviews with successful individuals about their morning routines, including in our recent book, we ask a simple question: “What do you do if you fail to follow your morning routine?”

The most common answer to this question is beautifully summed up by three-time U.S. Olympic gold medalist in swimming, Rebecca Soni:

“I don’t consider it failing, I just try to do the best I can every morning. I might end up feeling a bit more scattered throughout the day, but it motivates me to get it done tomorrow.”

While some of the people we interview do occasionally deviate from this answer—the president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), L. Rafael Reif, amusingly noted that if he misses his breakfast he becomes grumpy—this is the general theme from the people we speak with across a wide range of discipline. Senior editor of Fortune magazine, Geoff Colvin, for instance, noted that if he fails to follow his morning routine one morning he just carries on with it the next day. “If I miss the routine for only one day, it’s no problem.” Similarly, the CEO of Clif Bar & Company, Kevin Cleary, noted:

“I give myself a break and take the longer view of what’s happening. If I can’t do my workout later in the day, I’ll tell myself I’ll just pick it up tomorrow or the next day. Six months from now, my body and I won’t know that I missed a day.”

Forgive Yourself

Starting again, whether on your morning routine or on your New Year’s resolutions as a whole, cannot happen unless you forgive yourself. Tomorrow is a new day. If you failed to follow your morning routine today, that’s okay. In the words of author and speaker Crystal Paine:

“I have a choice: I can choose to beat myself up over the fact that I am not following my usual routine, or I can give myself grace. I’m working on doing a better job of giving myself grace—because life happens and it’s okay if we don’t always do everything we’d hoped or planned to do. The best thing I can do on those days is to remind myself to just do what I can.”

And remember, sometimes this supposed failure is a blessing in disguise. Your New Year’s resolutions aren’t a do-or-die situation. Like most skills you pursue in life, or challenges you wish to undertake, it takes time to get good—or to even grasp what you’re supposed to be doing. The important thing is that you decided that this is something you’d like to work on; and in this regard, it deserves a fair shot. Remember this when roadblocks occurs.

When we asked author Austin Kleon what he does if he fails to follow his morning routine, he put it this way:

“I try to forgive myself and move on. (Sun comes up, sun goes down. Always another chance tomorrow.) One thing about a routine is that the days when you break it can be some of the most interesting days. The routine days make the off-routine days even sweeter (like having a donut on a sugar-free diet), but they wouldn’t unless you had a routine to break.”


For more tips from us, and our interviewees, on how to create a brand new morning routine, pick up My Morning Routine (Portfolio/Penguin) today!

Meet our Book

Whether you want to boost your productivity, implement a workout or meditation routine, or just learn to roll with the punches in the morning, our brand new book has you covered.

Today’s most talented creatives and businesspeople share their secrets to unlocking greater energy, focus, and calm—starting first thing in the morning.

Book Cover of My Morning Routine