10 Tips to Make (and Keep) New Year's Resolutions

If you’re taking on a New Year’s resolution, here are 10 tips to bring you success!

  1. Learn from the past.  Was a resolution from 2018 over before it even began?! Maybe it wasn’t the goal but the strategy. Generally, setting the same goal isn’t as problematic as deciding on the same strategy.
  2. Keep it simple. Set realistic goals based on your priorities, strengths, preferences and rhythms. Having one or two goals that you really can accomplish is much better than setting goals based on an ‘impossible dream’.
  3. Define a goal that is measurable, doable, and specific. “I want to exercise and lose weight” is too vague. “I will exercise 30 minutes 2x per week” is specific. You’re more likely to continue with a goal that’s measured and progress is visible. Why do you think fitness trackers are so popular? The feedback is satisfying and motivating.
  4. Don’t rely solely on willpower. We have a finite supply, so it’s important to build routines and systems that support our resolutions. For example, while joining Planet Fitness was a lot more economical, I chose to join Orangetheory Fitness where I had to schedule classes and show up. And, they keep me accountable by requiring cancellation to classes 8 hours in advance!
  5. Start small. Then add to your goal. Resolutions encourage ‘all or nothing’ thinking that can have us giving up at the first obstacle. For me, I started with two days per week at Orangetheory Fitness and have now increased to four by simply scheduling more classes as time went on.
  6. Create a short list of diversions that could come up. For example, if quitting smoking is one of your resolutions, sip on lemon juice whenever temptation strikes or nibble on sunflower seeds. Keep a pencil in your hand to keep it occupied, or play with a yo-yo. If losing weight is a goal, plan on making a cup of herbal tea (or a pitcher!) every afternoon to get you through a midday slump. Many people get tired and have less control late in the day; if you get late-night munchies, be sure to buy something healthy to chew on, such as a handful of almonds or some celery sticks.
  7. Create some tools to help yourself reach your goals! For example, I resolve to be on time to meetings and/or events this week. To help me achieve this goal, when I add the meeting to my calendar, I make sure to set the alarm function to the calendar with a 30-minute reminder before the meeting to give me time for preparation, commuting, or the unexpected.
  8. Keep track of your progress. You’re more likely to continue with a new activity or goal that’s measured and progress is visible. Can you create or find a tool to track and chart your progress?  It can be as simple as a star chart on the fridge, a new app for food monitoring or fitness activity. It’s always satisfying to check off a task completed!
  9. Create some accountability for yourself! For example, put a small amount of money in an envelope when you miss.  (Perhaps you give this money to charity.)
  10. If you can’t keep the habit going, take a breather.  After a break, try again. Think about what didn’t work last time. It’s perfectly normal for an approach to fail the first time but don’t give up. Reflect. Try a different approach that works better for you.


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