(WTVO) — We are just days from Jan. 1, which means millions of people, including many right here in the Stateline, will be making a variety of New Year’s resolutions.

From eating cleaner to saving more money, plans to improve our lives over the next 12 months are common ahead of New Year’s Day.

A sobering statistic, however, indicates that the vast majority of those who make New Year’s resolutions give up within the first few weeks—more than 80% to be exact.

A local mental health expert says there is a reason why so many resolutions fail so quickly.

“The problem is, we set the bar so that we need to get it right,” said Jan Selander, a clinical social worker with Forest City Counseling in Rockford. “But, the minute we don’t get it right, we bail on those New Year’s resolutions, and we say, ‘Better luck next year. We’ll try again next year.'”

Selander says it’s common for those who make New Year’s resolutions to take failure as a cue to give up. However, there is hope because she says failure can be a powerful tool for sustainable change.

“The reality is the most important part of New Year’s resolutions can be failure if we recognize that it’s part of growth and we do something with that failure,” she said.

According to research, the top New Year’s resolutions are exercising more and losing weight, some of the most difficult things to stick to for a 12-month period without a proper plan.

Selander says the key to making any plan work is to identify underlying issues that might cause things like lack of motivation or overeating. She says once those issues are identified and addressed, the behaviors associated with them can be better managed.

“The interesting thing is, we try to change the outside, trying to make us feel better on the inside,” she said. “But, in actuality, we’ve got it backwards.”

Selander says one of the most common causes of overeating is stress.

“We try to change our eating patterns, but we don’t do anything with the stress,” she said. “But then we turn to food to be able to try and manage the stress. We need to look inside and understand. So, rather than trying to change the outside to make the inside feel better, we need to work on the inside to be able to make the outside better.”

Besides eating better and getting more exercise, other common New Year’s resolutions include learning a new skill, getting more organized and giving up smoking.