Habits That Stick: How To Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions

It’s that time of year: the time where we overview the year behind us, and set our goals for the year ahead.

Of course this is a beautiful concept, interwoven with hope and good intentions. However (and this isn’t meant to be a bearer of bad news, only to reveal the reality), research shows that between 81 and 92 percent of all New Year’s Resolutions fail.

We know that’s a pretty significant number. And like we mentioned, this isn’t meant to dissuade you from making resolutions, but rather the opposite: to help you cultivate what it truly takes to develop the discipline to stick to your goals!

Fortunately, many of these tips aren’t necessarily difficult to implement at all, they’re just commonly overlooked.

Let’s dive in, so you can beat the odds!

How to Stick to Your New Year’s Resolutions

These are specific tips to implement while you’re setting your New Year’s resolution, so you can set one that defies the stats.

1. Set Specific, Realistic Goals WITH Milestones

A common theme we’ve noticed (and experienced personally) is that when you set a big, vague goal … it becomes frustrating and overwhelming to try to make progress toward it. Why? Simply because the goal itself is not well-defined (and how can you catch something you can barely see) and/or there are no milestones.

Let’s look at some examples. Say your goal for the New Year is to finally lose the weight you may have gained during lockdowns (hey, we’ve been there!). The first problem with this goal is that, sure, weight loss is a goal, but knowing how much weight loss (or inches lost) is going to be measurable and tangible.

So, sticking with this example, reformulate your goal by asking yourself these questions: How much weight loss (or inches lost) are you aiming for? How much per month? Is that amount realistic, without burning yourself out?

Now, there’s nothing wrong with having big goals. The key is to split them up into realistic timeframes, otherwise you’ll likely be rapidly disappointed that you haven’t reached your huge end goal by early March! Setting ourselves up for this disappointment is one of the number one reasons we throw in the towel, frustrated with ourselves for not completing our goal, when in fact, we may have actually been making progress.

2. Start Small

This ties into setting realistic goals, but takes it a step further. The best way to illustrate this is to use examples:

Your resolution: “I want to start reading more.”
A more mindful resolution: “I will read two pages of my latest book every night.”

Your resolution: “I want to start working out more.”
A more mindful resolution: “I will commit to working out 3 days per week.”

Do you see the difference? The large resolution seems almost impossible, as in your mind, you’re assuming you need to go from 0 (not reading or working out) to 100 (reading for hours every night and working out for hours every day).

Evaluate your schedule and set these small goals within the larger goal realistically, so that it’s manageable and actually integrates sustainably into your life.

3. Have A Plan

Let’s say you have a destination in mind: the most important part of arriving to the destination is how you will get there.

Do you drive? Fly? Ride a bike?

In travel scenarios, this is common sense and we do it without thinking. However, we tend to not do the same for our goals.

If you want to lose weight, how will you go about it? Will you try a specific diet? A specific workout program? How often will you meal prep? How often will you work out? How will you measure your weight loss?

Once you’ve answered these questions, you can start to proceed toward your destination instead of, well, spinning your wheels!

4. Remember (And Accept) This

At the start of the New Year, you will have a ton of motivation to take action toward your goal. You’ve had some time off, some good food, and feel the support of everyone around you to get going.

However, this won’t last forever … and accepting this now is crucial. Regardless of what anyone says about “staying motivated,” there will be times that no matter how many uplifting, motivating audios, stories, encouragement, or quotes you read, you just won’t feel like doing what you have to do to complete your goal.

And that’s okay. It’s normal!

This is where self-discipline comes in. Discipline says that even when my motivation is lagging, I made a commitment to this, and I’m going to do it anyway, because I don’t want to keep living the same year over and over again.

Now, if you’re feeling burned out and under the weather, this is a different issue: take some time.

But then, get back on the horse even if you aren’t motivated to.

Remember why you started!

The Bottom Line

At the end of the day, whether it’s the New Year or not, we have to ask ourselves: are we prepared to live as we’ve always lived, and get the same result over and over again … until we pass away? Most of us would answer “No.”

So remember this, when you feel like giving up.


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