How to Make a New Year’s Resolution That You’ll Actually Keep

January 6, 2020

Have you committed to a New Year’s Resolution in the past? Most of us have! Did you follow through with it? Plenty of us don’t, but not because we all have commitment issues. It is often the way that we go about creating resolutions that makes them difficult to stick with. How you frame your goals and the path you take to achieve them can be just as important as the desired result. Before taking any oaths for 2020, read our guide on how to make a New Year’s resolution that you’ll actually keep!


Make Achievable Resolutions

If you want to climb a mountain, but you’ve never been hiking before, Mount Everest shouldn’t be your first destination. Often, the reason we fail to follow through with our resolutions is that we set the bar too high or expect to reach it too quickly; we hold ourselves to unreasonable standards and get frustrated when we fall short. Now, that’s not to say that your goals should be super easy, either. It’s finding your balance that is the key.

This might mean challenging yourself with smaller, yet related goals for the new year. Rather than resolving to gain 15 pounds of muscle this year, commit to heading to the gym once a week and go from there. If you want to live more frugally, try making small spending adjustments rather than vowing to never spend another cent. Make resolutions that help you make progress and reevaluate next year. By setting goals that are at the edge of our capabilities, we can challenge ourselves and still grow.

Break Down Your Resolution into Rewarding Increments

While your New Year’s resolutions should always be something you can accomplish, you can probably accomplish more than you realize by breaking goals down into incremental steps. To continue our mountaineering example, which is a very lofty goal, we have to start small if we’re starting from scratch. First, buy some hiking boots and start walking around your neighborhood to break them in. Then, hike some nature trails or parks around your house. If you find that you enjoy it, look for places you can take longer hikes. Next, get yourself a backpack and see how that suits you.

These are small, achievable steps that build over time. By focusing on these, you can actually see your progress and each time you move forward, you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment.

Plan Out Your Resolution

For many people, writing things down or putting them on a calendar helps commit things to memory and defines what it is you’re trying to accomplish. Rather than holding it in your head, putting it on paper makes it easy to look at what you’re doing and measure it against your goals, creating consistency over time. Put little boxes next to each step so you can proudly check them off when you knock them out! Not only does this help you keep track of where you’re going, but it can also show you how far you’ve come!

Get an Accountability Partner

Many of us have no trouble holding ourselves accountable in our daily lives; we can usually do what needs to be done. However, when trying to make changes, it can be incredibly helpful to have someone else in your corner. That’s why many people find it helpful to have an accountability partner when it comes to New Year’s resolutions. Whether it’s your spouse, sibling, parent, or friend, having someone who believes in you and offers their support can go a long way.

Make Sure Your Resolution is Important to YOU

It’s hard to follow through with something that you don’t really want to do. If you hate hiking and mountains, you probably won’t stick with a resolution involving those things. When deciding on a resolution, make sure it’s actually something important to you. The best resolutions involve your passions, not anyone else’s.

Set Themes, Not Resolutions

If you’re just not the type of person that likes to plan everything down to the very letter, that’s okay! For some, setting a general theme is preferable to the pressure of a concrete New Year’s resolution. This approach can help you make small improvements to all aspects of your life without feeling bound to a certain routine or set of criteria.

Rather than saying, “I want to climb Mount Everest,” you could start the year by saying, “I want to experience nature more often.” But it doesn’t have to be that specific, either. It could be as easy as focusing on a single word, such as “kindness,” “charity,” or “wellness.” Maybe it’s as simple as saying “yes” more often.

If you find that this is a more productive way to make changes for the New Year, it can help to surround yourself with reminders. Maybe this is an inspiring song, or perhaps a picture or painting that visually represents your theme or word and keeps you focused on it throughout the year.

Take Your Time

No matter which way you choose to go about accomplishing your New Year’s resolution, it’s important to take your time and not overexert yourself. It can be easy to hit the gym with that renewed New Year energy and optimism, but burn yourself out before you’ve made it to February. That’s why changes that are gradually introduced into our lives are more likely to become habits and stay with you forever.

by Geoff Ullrich

About the Author

Geoff Ullrich is a writer and Content Marketing Specialist at Germania Insurance.