Top 5 Tips to Make (and Keep) a New Year’s Resolution

Whether you are trying to quit smoking or learn a new skill, follow these tips to make your New Year's resolution more achievable.

A New Year’s resolution is an old tradition where a person will promise to change or refrain from doing something over the course of the coming year (or hopefully longer) that will enhance or improve their life. This long-term goal is a challenge for most, and many of these resolutions will fail.

These promises are made on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s day each year. More often than not, this promise is forgotten or put aside by February. Either these promises are broken because we forget, we give up or we set unreachable goals. Let’s admit it: we’ve all made some ridiculous resolutions over the years. Like, someone might have decided to run a triathlon then realized that it might be a bit of an overstretch as they’ve never actually run a day in their life.

Instead of setting unreachable goals or giving up too soon, follow our guide to making and keeping New Year’s resolutions.

Why Do We Make New Year’s Resolutions?

A New Year’s resolution is a great way to make a positive change in your life. The end of December is a time to reflect over the year that is ending and look forward to the year ahead. January brings the opportunity for change, a chance to try something new and begin a new chapter in your life. We’ve all heard the phrase “a new year, a new me”. With the start of a fresh new year, people set out to better themselves.

Even though many of us will fail to complete our New Year’s resolutions, the tradition still continues to be carried out all over the world. About 40% of people are said to make this annual promise, but only a few will succeed in actually seeing them through.

So how do you make and most importantly keep your New Year’s resolutions? Whether you are trying to quitsmoking, exercise more or even learn a new skill, your goal can be made more achievable if you follow these key tips.

Pick the Right New Year’s Resolution

pick the right new year's resolution for you

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The main thing to remember when choosing what resolution to set is to pick a resolution that is right for you. Choose a goal that is doable and can be broken down and achieved. However, set a goal that is still big enough to give you a feeling of satisfaction for accomplishing it. Remember why you made the resolution in the first place because this focus will help keep you motivated to see it through.

Avoid previous years’ resolutions because this will certainly set you up for frustration and disappointment. Don’t copy others and pick the same resolutions as your friends just because you want to follow the crowd. Choose something that is best for you and your needs. Think about what you want to accomplish and what you want out of life.

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Planning Is Key to Your Success

write a new year's resolution list to help you to plan

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So what’s your game plan? What is your goal? When do you want to complete it by? And what happens if you slip-up? Having a strategy is key to your success.

Use a checklist to help you keep motivated, and create a New Year’s Resolution list. Below are the things to keep in mind for your resolution.

Keep It Simple

When making a New Year’s resolution, try to keep it simple as you will be more likely to stick to it. It is easier to stick to a goal if it feels realistic and achievable. If you try to commit to something that might be too much for you, you’ll end up feeling discouraged and may quit doing it altogether. The goal also needs to be enjoyable. If your resolution feels like a chore, you won’t want to do it.

Set a Deadline

Don’t be vague about your resolution. Make a solid decision about what your goal is and when you want to get it done by so you know what to aim for. For instance, a specific goal would be, “I want to learn a new language in the next 6 months” — this will give you a definite time frame and will be more effective.

Have a Backup Plan

Have a backup plan in place so you know what to do in case you give in to temptation. That way, you won’t feel so bad for having a slip-up. A good backup plan can help you keep from getting annoyed and frustrated for going off course. All you’ll need to do is take a deep breath, brush yourself off and check out your alternative planned course of action.

Break It Up Into Steps

If you have given yourself a 6-month or even a 12-month deadline, break this up into smaller manageable goals on the way to this final target date. This will stop the task from becoming too overwhelming and feeling out of reach. Remember, every small hurdle you reach is a step closer to completing your resolution.

For example, if your goal is to run 5k, then start by aiming to run 1k, then 2k. Gradually building it up over time until you are able to complete the full 5k run. Read our top five tips to finish your first 5k to help you along the way.

Don’t Give Up

Stay positive, but also remember to be realistic. There will be obstacles that you will have to face, and there will be days that you don’t feel that you can keep it up. If you make sure you have a support network in place and reward yourself for hitting smaller milestones, this New Year’s resolution thing is completely possible. Believe in yourself and your abilities, and don’t give up.

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Talk About Your Resolution with Friends and Family

tell people about your new years resolutions to help you keep them

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You are more likely to keep your resolution if you make it public. Once you say it out loud, there is no going back. Having a support network is a crucial part of making a New Year’s resolution and keeping it. Carefully choose your most supportive and motivating friends and family to discuss your ideas with and keep you going throughout this challenge. Talk to them about your goals, and tell your supporters why you have chosen this task and what it means to you to finish it. Communicate with your support network regularly and let them know how you are doing and that you are still on track. If you are wavering, let them know. They can all encourage and spur you on like your own team of personal cheerleaders.

Find Others Who Share the Same Goal

Working with others is a fantastic way to motivate you and them to achieve your New Year’s resolution. Get your family and friends involved and you can all work towards the same goal together as a team. Or, seek out online groups of people who are wanting to reach the same objective. Teamwork really does pay off.

Keep Track of Your Progress

Keep Track of Your New Year's Resolutions Progress

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If you don’t measure your progress, how do you know if you are making any? It is important to measure your development to reassure yourself that you are on track and making your way towards your end goal. By keeping track of your progress in a visible way such as a diary or printable calendar, it will make the goal so much easier to accomplish. That way, you can see how far you have come and what you still need to do to reach that end goal.

We all know that making long-lasting life changes are more beneficial than a short-term quick fix. So, if you focus on making your resolution part of your daily habit, the resolution will become second nature to you. Make your resolution part of your everyday routine and track your process. The act of logging and tracking your progress into a calendar, diary or app on your phone will help reinforce this new habit.

This is a technique that works no matter what the resolution may be. It takes about 21 days for a new activity to become a habit and 6 months for it to become part of your personality. Stick with your goal and be patient, and you’ll make it happen.

Ways to Track Your Progress

  • Notebook
  • Digital calendar
  • Printable calendar
  • Mobile app
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Reward Yourself and Celebrate the Small Successes

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Plan a lovely reward to treat yourself for all your hard work and effort. Write it in your calendar so you have something to work towards. If you have been doing a great job and sticking to your diet plan, for instance, reward yourself. If you have been getting up early at 5.30 am every day and going for that run you promised, reward yourself.  However, be sure that the reward doesn’t contradict the resolution. If you’re trying to lose weight, don’t go out and devour an entire cake and box of chocolates as this will just set you back. Instead, reward yourself with a trip to the cinema or splurge on some new clothes.

Rewarding yourself for your hard work and celebrating the small successes are an important part of this process and will aid you in keeping your New Year’s resolution. It is easy to get disheartened when trying to complete a longterm goal because you won’t see results straight away. Don’t put so much pressure on yourself to focus on the endgame. Celebrate the little wins along the way, and give yourself a treat.

Believe In Yourself, and Don’t Give Up!

It doesn’t matter if you’ve made New Year’s resolutions in the past and failed to see them through. What matters is that you are going for it now. A New Year is a blank page in the new chapter of your life. Use this page to write in your New Years resolutions and set new goals. Remember, resolutions don’t have to be overwhelming. If you are proactive, plan, break the goal into steps and work towards it, you will meet your goals.

And it’s ok if you slip up. No one is perfect, and these things take time. Take one day at a time, and do your very best each day. Live your best life. Make the change for you and no one else. Finally, if you see it through to the end, give yourself a massive pat on the back. You deserve it!

Do you make New Year’s resolutions, and do you see them through? If so, let us know what your New Year’s resolution is in the comments below.

top 5 tips to make (and keep) a new year’s resolution