How to Keep Your Good Intentions (Even if You’ve Already Failed)


New year, new you, new goals. The first week or two of the New Year is always filled with hopefulness. The Christmas cheer is still lingering and the New Year brings a sense of fresh start with it. We roll up our sleeves, think of how we want this year to be different, and write goals, intentions, and a word to live by. And within a few weeks, we realize that change is actually really REALLY hard.

Then the post-Christmas, post-New Year’s blues set in and we rip open the Reese’s Tree left in our stocking, binge watch all the Netflix, and scroll through Instagram so long our thumb needs physical therapy! So, what are some of the root causes of failed New Year’s goals? And how can we keep from slipping into the abyss when we do almost inevitably mess up?


I know it sounds weird, but I think sometimes we are legitimately afraid of succeeding in new paths of life. It might sound like this in your head: “What if I miss out on …” “What will unexpectedly change if I…” We know succeeding in our goals will change us, but we don’t know how. And THAT is the scary part.

What to do about it?

  • Recognize the fear and pinpoint what it’s about. Fear-setting is a new thing I’ve learned about that can help you see the cost of giving into the fear. (Google it to find worksheets and a Ted Talk)

  • Be brave. It will take courage to persist in positive changes. It will involve risk and uncertainty. Have courage. Trust that the Lord’s direction is good even when it doesn’t seem like it.


A mindset of scarcity is when our minds fear that there won’t be enough of something. This thinking particularly impacts things like weight goals. It causes our brains to go into survival mode, which means our executive function goes off-line and our primitive brain takes over the driver’s seat. This is good when you’re in an actual famine, not when you’re trying to forge new eating habits.

What to do about it?

  • Recognize when your brain has switched modes. Take a few deep breaths (really, it helps the brain get the primitive part under control).

  • Remind yourself of whatever is true. Ex: “I am not actually starving, I’m just craving sugar.” “I actually do have plenty of clothes to wear and can get more creative with putting outfits together.”


This is your New Year’s goals WORST enemy. You will most likely mess up. You do not have to beat yourself up over being human.

What to do about it?

  • Recognize the lie in your specific flavor of perfectionism. If you say to yourself, “I have to be perfect or else… ” Whatever comes in the “…” is your brand of perfectionism.

  • Remind yourself of who God says you are. Evaluate what caused you to get off track and keep moving forward towards your goal.

The well-tread paths of old habits will try to pull us back. They are the easy road because it is what we know. The hard thing is to start bushwhacking our way down a new path with new habits and to continue to cut the new path when things are scary, resources seem scarce, or we’ve already messed up. Be brave and press on!

I’m curious, what has most helped you keep your good intentions?

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Meet the Author!

Phoebe is a therapist at Connect Counseling at Deaconess Pregnancy and Adoption, mom to the very lively Vivi and very chill Charlie, and wife to Jeff. You may spot her out and about at almost any Target in the area with a coconut milk latte in hand. She enjoys nonfiction books, Disney movies, and helping others find peace and healing in the hope of the Gospel.

This blog is meant to further the conversation about mental health and is not intended as medical or professional advice.