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tips to keep resolutions

How to Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions


January 19, 2021 | Published by

This year will be different. That’s usually what we tell ourselves before making resolutions. We get all psyched up about big changes and ride that wave right through New Year’s Day. We may have ordered new workout clothes, equipment, or self-help books. Here we are, less than 3 weeks into 2021, and many of us (myself included) have already slipped or dropped resolutions entirely. What are we doing wrong?

A recent study showed that 23% of people quit working on their resolution just two weeks into the new year, and only 19% of people stuck to their goals for a significant amount of time.1 The problem isn’t our intentions. Many of us set goals with great potential benefit. I’m going to run a 5K! I’m going to lose 30 pounds! I’m going to remodel the bathroom! These are all great and admirable goals, but they often result in getting overwhelmed and frustrated in a short time. On the first workout we get winded. On day 3 of our weight loss journey we cheat on our diet and gain a pound. We watch a video on bathroom remodeling and get 2 minutes in before we feel like it’s in a different language.

One problem with the above goals is they are too vague or too advanced for us initially. Resolutions are easier to accomplish when they are specific and attainable. If you’re out of shape, don’t make your first goal to run a marathon. Maybe your first goal would be to do a 20-minute workout twice a week. Then you work up to 3 times a week. This leads us to our first resolution tip. One important note before we get started: if you haven’t yet made resolutions, or have already slipped, do not fret. It is not too late to reframe and redo.

Create goals that are measurable

Vague resolutions are hard to keep and track. Examples of these would be: I want to lose weight; I want to be healthier; I want to be more successful. Those are all great goals, but what do they mean? How many pounds do you want to lose? What would make you happier? How would you achieve those steps? What does success mean to you? Goals like I want to lose 20 pounds this year or I want to exercise 3 times a week are more measurable and easier to track.1

Limit your resolutions

You may want to focus on several goals or changes this year. It’s great to know where you want to go, but focusing on several goals at once can be overwhelming. It’s recommended that you focus on one goal at a time to avoid frustration and spreading yourself too thin. Establishing new behavioral patterns takes focus and sustained effort. Focusing on one goal makes it much easier to keep a resolution.2

Don’t skimp on the planning

Now that you have a goal, you’re going to need a plan. Planned steps make it clear what tactics you will use and will help deal with challenges as they arise. A good idea is to start by writing down your goal. Then, make a list of things you can do to achieve that goal. Note any obstacles that may come up. For example: your goal is to exercise 3 days a week after work, but you make a note that you usually work late on Wednesdays. You can make a note to exercise on days that are less hectic, which bodes well for compliance.2

Take small steps to start

Sometimes we get so caught up in our goal that we want to accomplish it all in one day. This could be overdoing it at the gym or starting a strict diet right away. This all-or-nothing approach tends to set us up for failure. Instead, take smaller steps which make it much easier to stick to your goal. If your goal is to run a mile, start by going for a short jog 2-3 times a week. If your goal is to lose a specified amount of weight, start by replacing some unhealthy foods with healthier options or cut back on eating out. Don’t be discouraged by the slow start; these small steps make it easier to form new habits and will ultimately help you each your overall goal.2

Track your progress

To know if you’re taking the right steps, it’s important to track your goal progress. Anything you can use to mark your progress will work, wither it be an app, calendar, notebook, spreadsheet, or chart. Noting and seeing your progress each day will act as a reminder of how far you’ve come and encourage you to keep going. Remember that your progress won’t always be an upward curve. There will be up and down days, so stay focused on the effort and don’t give up.1

Treat slip-ups as learning tools

Face it; you’re going to slip up at some point. Mistakes are all part of the process. Problems occur when we take mistakes as a sign of failure. Instead, learn from these mistakes. Say you gave in and ate fast food for dinner one night. What led to this? Perhaps you got home late and were too tired to cook the meal you had planned. Instead of beating yourself up over the slip, make plans for how to avoid that mistake in the future. That could involve having food on hand for quick healthy meals that require little to no cooking time.1

Accept and find support

It may sound cliché by now, but accountability buddies actually work. Supportive friends, loved ones, or those with similar goals help you stay motivated and accountable. The bond created through this support can make sticking to your goal more enjoyable as well. If there’s a day when you’re just not feeling it, encouragement from your goal buddy can be all you need to make it happen.2


  1. Morin, A. 7 Tips to Make Sure You Actually Keep Your New Year’s Resolution This Time. Inc. Magazine.
  2. Cherry, K. 10 Great Tips for Keeping Your Resolutions This Year. VeryWell Mind.

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