How To Make Your New Year’s Resolutions Stick? (10 Tips)

wooden tiles arraged to spell out 'Happy New Year!'.

New Year’s resolutions are an excellent way to motivate ourselves and set goals for the year ahead. Unfortunately, most resolutions don’t tend to last past January (also known as a fresh start effect). That’s because it’s tough to stick with new habits day in and day out without a little help. Resolving to change our lives is not enough to make it happen, we need to think of ways that we can help ourselves keep those resolutions. Fortunately, there are some ways that you can improve your success rate the next time you set them. Here are a few tips on how you can make New Year’s resolutions stick! Pick and choose, or try them all to see yourself sticking to your resolutions until the end of the year and achieving your big goals!

Set Realistic and Specific New Year’s Resolutions

We all have many long- and short-term goals, most of which can be rather vague. If you’ve ever set a goal to lose weight or be more active, you probably found yourself not knowing what to do next! That’s why the first thing you should do to stick to your New Year’s resolutions is to set specific goals at the start of the year, that will make it easier to identify the small steps you will need to take to achieve your ultimate long-term goal.

When thinking about specific goals, don’t go too broad, and don’t allow yourself too much leniency. Your resolutions should be immediate (so you can start seeing results quickly) and measurable (so you can track your progress). Instead of “be more active” or “exercise on a regular basis”, set yourself a goal to “exercise at least 5 days a week for no less than 30 minutes a day”. Instead of “weight loss”, make your resolutions more specific by aiming to “only have dessert after dinner once a week” and “consume under 1500kcal at least 5 days a week”.

Being realistic about what you can achieve in the next year can be tough! We are full of dreams, hopes and motivations in anticipation of a new beginning in a form of a new year. But… A realistic specific goal is a concrete goal! You need to take into consideration your schedule, your physical abilities, commitments and bad habits that you will need to combat in order to stick to your resolutions. Setting realistic goals that you can stick to will keep you motivated throughout the year!

Head straight to our article How To Set Realistic New Year’s Resolutions to start setting out your new achievable goals for the coming year!

a man with a laptop in this hand looking very happy and excited.

Start Small

Sometimes the only way to make our lofty New Year’s resolutions actually happen is to break them into smaller, achievable goals. For instance, if you want to get fit over the next year, but you haven’t exercised for years, it may not be a good idea to create a fitness program where you exercise each day for at least an hour. We get it, you think you can do it! You have big dreams! You think you have the time and willpower to see it through! And maybe you do, but life gets in the way!

We believe in setting an achievable goal that you can later adjust to make it more challenging. If you think you have time to exercise for an hour 5 days a week, start by committing to at least 30 minutes 4 days a week. If you stick to this routine past January, increase the frequency or length of exercise.

Small goals are designed to be motivating. The feeling of success in achieving these new goals will keep you motivated, whilst the failure to stick to your large goals will simply make you feel stressed and demotivated. Once you’ve achieved your new smaller goal, you can move on to the next level! And you will feel accomplished and successful along the way!

a page in a notebook separated into two collumns: Less and More.

Make Your-End Goal Visible

Your ultimate goal should never be your New Year’s Resolution. Ultimate goals and dreams are great to keep you motivated but are awful in terms of being trackable, measurable or giving any indication of what you need to do to achieve them! However, the end goal should always remind you why you are making positive changes, forming healthy habits and embarking on this personal growth journey in the first place.

To make it easier for yourself to be reminded of why you need to stick to your New Year’s Resolutions, keep the ultimate goal visible to you. For example:

  • If you want to be fluent in French, set French radio or a playlist as your background noise at home.
  • If you want a toned body, have a photo of an athlete next to your exercise equipment.
  • If you want to save money for your dream holiday abroad, set a photo of the place to your mobile phone screensaver.

It may not seem like much, but psychological science tells us that whatever we focus on (even if it’s forced) will become a bigger part of our lives and may eventually result in behaviour change.

a board with a bunch of notes pinned to it, with the top one saying 'We start from WHY".

Surround Yourself With Your Support System

Whilst your accountability system may double as a support system, you should identify people (or even online systems) that will help you when you’re lacking motivation. A support group will help you make your resolution stick by providing advice, a shoulder to cry on and motivation to get you past the finish line when you’re feeling weak and unmotivated. Your support system may include:

  • your best friend
  • your family members
  • a Facebook group with like-minded individuals
  • an in-person group that meets up regularly (like “Stop Smoking Sessions” or “Weight Watchers Group”)
  • strangers that you admire! Watch an interview with a celebrity, an athlete or a psychology professor to find the required inspiration to help you with positive thinking and carry on with towards your goals.
A couple palm in palm in exercise clothes.

Create An Accountability System

You know that friend you always rely on to be your accountability partner? Well, now is the time to get in touch with them. If you’re resolving to make some big life changes, like quitting smoking or making healthier eating choices, you should definitely get the support of the people around you. Sometimes, you simply can’t rely on yourself to keep yourself accountable.

Accountability bubbles can mean different things to different people.

  • Turn to your family members and see if they’d like to keep you company in sticking to your New Year’s Resolutions and keep you in check.
  • Publicize your New Year’s Resolutions on social media, so that the whole world of the Internet will know if you don’t stick to them! How is that for pressure?
  • Join a private group with like-minded individuals to keep each other accountable and provide support if needed.

Forced Motivation

a small bottle with writing on it: Stop Wishing, Start Doing.

Nothing motivated us better than the environment we are in. That’s why setting up your surroundings to aid you in sticking to your New Year’s Resolutions gives you the best chance of succeeding.

  • The best way to start a workout is to put on your exercise clothes and trainers in the morning. Take it a step further by filling up your water bottle and setting out your exercise equipment the night before.
  • The first step towards healthier eating is to fill your fridge with healthy foods and place a large bowlful of fruit in the centre of the room you spend time in.
  • If you’re trying to build a new habit and make healthy changes, download an app on your phone to remind you about your goal regularly, like a reminder to drink water, go for a walk or to meditate.
  • If you want to clean your house every single week, but cannot bring yourself to start, do something drastic, like spill water over the kitchen floor, so you have to start cleaning!

Write It Down – Every Single Day

Whatever you do, make sure that you’re writing down your goals and your plans for achieving them every single day. Incorporate your resolutions into your everyday to-do list to ensure you make time to work on your goals. The mere act of jotting something down on a piece of paper is a declaration of commitment and, therefore, leads to a greater chance of you actually doing it! A detailed written plan can be made to take the guessing game out of the actions you need to take each day. If you want to be more active, write down a time, a place and the duration of your exercise for the day to ensure that your good intentions turn into an actual workout!

A planner journal with words written in it: "Make it happen!".

Reward System

Track Your Progress and Reward Yourself For Small Success. Waiting a whole year to establish if you’ve been successful in sticking to your New Year’s Resolutions may be a little too far into the future to keep your motivation levels up. Track your progress daily/ weekly/monthly and make sure to reward yourself with a small treat every time you hit a milestone. You’ll be able to celebrate your successes and track your progress much more easily if you keep a journal or have a habit-tracking app. Read all about setting up an effective Self-Reward System for Productivity here, that will work for many other goals you may have set for yourself.

Punishment System

This is something that people don’t usually think of when they’re trying to make their resolutions stick. And we get it, it sounds slightly scary! But it’s a great way to help keep yourself accountable and to make sure that you don’t fall behind on your progress.

A punishment system should not include anything drastic but should be motivating enough for you to stick to your New Year’s Resolutions. For example:

  • If you hate wasting money and would like to get fitter, pay for Annual Gym Membership. If you don’t go enough, it will feel like money down the drain.
  • Make a deal with your accountability buddy that if you fail to stick to your resolutions, you will iron their shirts for a week (provided that you hate ironing, that is).
  • If your goal is to save money for a holiday, and you make an impulsive purchase, punish yourself by asking your family member to hide the purchase for a month!
A judge's gavel hitting the wooden board.

Prepare To Make Mistakes and Pick Yourself Up

There’s one big thing that a lot of people forget when they’re trying to make their New Year’s resolutions stick. They forget to be prepared to make mistakes. And we can assure you that mistakes will happen, that life will get in the way and that you will likely pause and have to restart on your journey towards your goals once in a while!

The most important thing here is not to quit! If you only exercised twice instead of 5 times that you wanted to, all is not lost! Make sure to turn to your support system to find the required motivation to carry on. Take a deep breath and keep moving forward. You’re bound to make mistakes on your journey. That’s just part of the human experience!

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