New Year’s resolution statistics

How many Americans are due to achieve their “new year, new me” goals in 2021?

Updated . What changed?

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a clock striking midnight for new years

Every New Year’s Eve, millions of people around the globe celebrate with the hope that next year will be better than the last.

Well, chin up: A recent Finder survey reveals that 141.1 million adult Americans — or 55.31% of all American adults — think that following through on their New Year’s resolutions is well within the cards.

At least they made resolutions. Some 25.98% of adult Americans are rolling into 2021 without personal goals on the calendar.

How many Americans will make a New Year’s resolution?

An estimated 188.9 million adult Americans (74.02% of the population) say they’re determined to learn something new, make a lifestyle change or set a personal goal in an effort to better themselves in 2021, a 15.17% increase from the previous year. The top six categories that keep us to this holiday tradition relate to money, health, career, self-improvement, family, and love.

Category% of AmericansEstimated number of Americans
Health45.59%116,337,153
Self Improvement37.32%95,236,787
Money33.69%85,969,735
Family24.47%62,445,678
Love15.92%40,632,462
Career15.64%39,919,611
Don’t have one25.98%66,295,069

Gender

Of those surveyed, some 73.76% of men and 74.26% of women plan to make a 2021 resolution.

Health-related resolutions are at the top of the list: 43.53% of guys and 47.45% of gals. Not too shocking for a world currently in a health pandemic. Health insurance can be one of the more complex insurance types. To better guard your health and insurance research how health insurance works and compare policies and plans when making your choice.

The least targeted resolution across the board still relates to a career — which is ironic, given that money is second to health for 35.18% of men.

As for women, 40.00% lean toward self-improvement, and 32.34% plan to set a money-related goal.

Generation

The majority of millennials — 88.60% of this generation, representing 58.7 million millennials — say they’ll make a New Year’s resolution in 2021. An even higher percentage of gen Zers plan to have a resolution at 91.85%. However, the number of “resoluters” falls off as ages increase. About 78.61% of gen Xers, 60.91% of baby boomers, and 46.86% of the silent gen plan to throw their hat in the resolution ring next year.

Generation% of respondents that have a resolution
Gen Z91.85%
Millennial88.60%
Gen X78.61%
Baby Boomers60.91%
Silent Gen46.86%

While gen x, boomers, and the silent gen plan to focus their resolutions on health, more than half of all millennials — an estimated 53.12% of this generation — will concentrate on money-related goals. Meanwhile, 62.50% of gen Zers will focus on self-improvement.

What all the generations could agree on is that resolutions aren’t as needed in the love and career department. In fact, only 4.73% of baby boomers plan on having a resolution based around love, and 2.36% plan on having a resolution based around careers in 2021.

How many Americans think they’ll fail their resolution?

If you’ve ever been to a gym in the first week of January, you’ve witnessed the great migration of “resoluters.” You’ve probably also seen that crowd thin by mid-February.

According to our survey, an estimated 23.1 million Americans — or 12.23% of all Americans with resolutions — don’t believe that meeting their resolution is within reach. Compare that to 141.4 million optimists, or 74.72% of all Americans with resolutions, who feel that next year’s resolution is in the bag. Sitting somewhere in the middle of resolution completion is nearly 24.7 million Americans, about 13.06% of adults with resolutions the population, who think it’s possible — but they aren’t entirely confident are neutral about the outcome of their resolutions.

Gender

A small slice of men and women are naysayers of resolution success next year: Just 12.61% of women and 11.80% of men head into the new year prepared expecting to fall.

Then there are those who think they’ll crush their annual intentions. The 77.51% of men who believe they’ll achieve their goal outnumber 72.21% of women who say the same.

10.69% of men and 15.19% of women are unsure whether they will succeed or fail in their resolutions next year.

Generation

None of the generations are writing resolutions off completely, but most are hesitant to say that they won’t reach their goal. Only 7.10% of gen z, 9.71% of millennials, 15.29% of gen x, 14.93% of baby boomers, and 12.20% of the silent gen say they won’t hit the mark next year.

Most people are pretty confident that they’re resolution will be achieved this year. 83.43% of Gen Z and 78.16% of Millennials believe that they’ll achieve their resolution this year. However the number of confident “resoluters” decreases as age increases. 72.48% of Gen X, 69.55% of Baby Boomers, and 69.51% of Silent Gen say they are likely to succeed this year.

Gen ZMillennialGen ZBaby BoomersSilent Gen
Likely83.43%78.16%72.48%69.55%69.51%
Neither9.47%12.14%12.23%15.52%18.29%
Unlikely7.10%9.71%15.29%14.93%12.20%

What’s the excuse for failed New Year’s resolutions?

Of men and women and all generations, the main reason we’re not able to see 2021 resolutions to success is because we “don’t have the willpower.” Others blame it on forgetting, being too lazy or some other reason. The most common reason for “other” was COVID with 22% of respondents writing it in.

Gender

Besides the 46.81% of men and 52.58% of women with resolutions who think they’re lacking the willpower, there’s a good chunk who claim they might be forgetful in the new year — how convenient. To home in, 8.51% of men and 11.34% of women with resolutions say they’ll probably lose track and forget about their resolution.

While women are more inclined to admit to not having willpower, men are more ready to blame a failed resolution on being lazy. The lazy bunch of “resoluters” is made up of some 17.73% of men and 9.79% of women with resolutions.

Generation

An estimated 60.71% of Gen Zers, 42.22% of Millennials, 51.11% of Gen Xers, 52.94% of Baby Boomers, and 52.00% of the Silent Gen say if they fold on their resolutions, lack of self-control is to blame.

The resolution roadblock that’s runner up for 12.22% of millennials and 10.00% of Gen Xers is the possibility of it slipping their mind.

And fighting the good fight against the aging process, laziness (10.78%) and forgetfulness (11.76%) are the two least likely reasons boomers say they might not hit their goal.

GenerationAlways forgetDon’t have the will powerToo lazyCOVIDOther (non-COVID)
Gen Z3.57%60.71%17.86%7.14%10.71%
Millennial12.22%42.22%20.00%6.67%18.89%
Gen X10.00%51.11%10.00%10.00%18.89%
Baby boomers11.76%52.94%10.78%1.96%22.55%
Silent gen4.00%52.00%4.00%0.00%40.00%

New Year Money Moves

Want to have more control over your finances in 2021? Here is some financial insight from certified commercial loan officer Anna Serio:

Anna Serio headshot
Anna Serio
Certified Commercial Loan Officer

  • Build your emergency fund. The past year showed just how important it is to have an emergency fund. If you haven’t already, open a dedicated savings account and try to stash away at least three months of expenses by the end of the year, if possible.
  • Pay off high-interest debts first. If you have multiple types of debt, focus on accounts with the highest interest rates. This can lower your total cost and shorten the amount of time it takes to become debt-free.
  • Consider refinancing student loans — later in the year. With rates at all-time lows, refinancing your student loans could make it easier to get out of debt. Providers like SoFi even offer perks like unemployment protection that almost come close to what you’d find with federal loans. But wait until we know what changes are to federal student loans in 2021. You could miss out on new repayment plans and even forgiveness.

Methodology

Our data is based on an online survey of 1,790 US adults born between 1928 to 2002 commissioned by Finder and conducted by Pureprofile in September 2020. Participants were paid volunteers.

We assume the participants in our survey represent the US population of 254.7 million Americans who are at least 18 years old according to the July 2019 US Census Bureau estimate. This assumption was made at the 95% confidence level with a 2.32% margin of error.

The survey asked respondents whether they had a New Year’s resolution for 2021 and what category it fell under. For respondents that said they had a resolution, we asked how likely they were to achieve their resolution. For respondents who selected that they were “Neither likely nor unlikely”, “Somewhat unlikely”, or “Very unlikely” to achieve their resolution, we asked why they believe they won’t achieve your New Year’s resolution, with the option to write in an “Other” answer.

We define generations by birth year according to the Pew Research Center’s generational guidelines:

We define generations by the age of participants at the time of the survey:

  • Gen Z — 1997-2002
  • Millennials — 1981-1996
  • Gen Z — 1965-1980
  • Baby Boomers — 1946-1964
  • The Silent Generation — 1928-1945

We define geographical regions according to the divisions of the US Census Bureau.

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