Why New Year’s Resolutions Don’t Work For Sex Addiction


It’s a new year, 2018, and many people have resolved to make a change to their life in one way or another, whether it is to lose weight, get in shape, or change a bad habit.

Change is a part of life, although sometimes change comes upon us and to us, versus intentionally changing.  

Change is essential to having a better life.

Even more, resolving to change involves choice — not just one choice to resolve to change, but a series of choices that affect change.

Richard Koestner, a professor and of psychology at McGill University, conducts research and teaches on goal-setting, self-regulation and internalization processes.  In an article, Reaching one's personal goals: A motivational perspective focused on autonomy, he discusses why so many people do not follow through with their New Year’s resolutions.


Koestner, R. (2008). Reaching one's personal goals: A motivational perspective focused on autonomy. Canadian Psychology/Psychologie canadienne, 49(1), 60-67.

He states that 22% of people fail after only one week, 40% after one month, 50% after three months, 60% after six months, and 81% after 2 years.

Sadly, most people fail to fulfill their New Year’s resolutions.

Koestner’s research also revealed that people make New Year’s resolutions that focus on behavioral commitments.  

In other words, most of us don’t want to continue living with unhealthy and detrimental bad habits.  

Likewise, with porn and sex addiction, most people who are caught up in deviant compulsive sexual behaviors will say that they do not want to continue in that lifestyle because of all of the personal, relational, and spiritual turmoil that results.

Most people who are engaged in deviant sexual behaviors live in continual internal conflict, resulting in a life of:

  • secrecy
  • shame
  • disconnection
  • despair

While there is a desire to resolve to stop the deviant sexual behavior, the road to fulfilling the resolution to stop is not so easy to navigate.

Koestner has identified 3 primary reasons for failing to achieve one's stated goals. 

1.  Unclear and vague goals. 

2.  Failure to gauge one's progress toward the stated goals. 

3.  Weak self-control and self-regulating when facing challenges that impede one's ability to achieve the stated goals. 

Tony Robbins warns that, “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten”.

Having a strategic plan for fulfilling our goals is vital to getting what we want, but dreams and visions do not normally happen because we resolve to do something.

The Momentum Of Motivation For Change

While having specific and measurable goals is important to the process of change, it is our motivation to continue to change in the face of temptation that determines whether or not we will actually change.

Most any businessman, athlete, parent, or therapist would concur that true change occurs through development, repeated practice, and adjustment.  Change does not normally happen in a spontaneous event, but rather over time through intentional purpose and resolve.

So, as it relates to porn and sex addiction, resolving that, “This is the last time…” must be accompanied by a sustained motivation to actually change.

Here are 3 tips for maintaining motivation to change compulsive sexual behavior.

   1. Desperation Must Lead To Determination

We must realize that desire is only the first phase of realizing our dream for freedom, and a fulfilled life.  At some point, our desperation for change must translate into determination for change.

Just because we say we want to stop unwanted sexual behavior doesn’t mean that the urges and impulses tempting us into acting out will stop.  On the contrary, they often intensify until they are fulfilled.

The road to change begins at resolve, is sustained by resolve, and then, is completed with resolve no matter how long it takes.

    2. Willpower Must Have A Plan

Fulfilling resolutions to change requires determined will power, but will power must be directed towards a positive vision that takes us to the destination of change we desire.

Will power on it’s own, without a direction, is like a hiker lost in the mountains without a compass and map.  There are many stories of hikers who have wandered around in the wilderness tenaciously continuing to forge forward, yet finding themselves right back where they started.

The most effective way to change unwanted sexual habits is to develop and follow a practical plan that leads to the desired destination of wellbeing.

    3. Self help Must Resolve In Getting Help

The journey into freedom and wellbeing requires help from people who know the way, and can provide support along the way.

It is very difficult to maintain vision and motivation to stick to the plan for change when we are trying to do it alone.  There are just to many known and unknown obstacles, and when setbacks occur, it is difficult to effectively encourage yourself in the things that need to be done to continue the journey to it’s final destination.

2018 promises to be a great year for change!

The question we need to consider is whether or not we will just make another New Year’s resolution or have the resolve to see change through.

The answer to that question will determine the degree to which we live free and live well.


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