Tips for Making New Year’s Resolutions that You’ll Actually Keep

The problem with New Year’s Resolutions, you may have found, is that they often result in failure a short time after you created them. I don’t know about you, but I’m great at writing out a list of ambitious goals and New Year’s resolutions, only to have them end in disappointment and failure. As I look over my list of New Year’s Resolutions for last year, I see a different picture from years gone by. I see a list of things that I did achieve, or at least move closer to achieving, over the course of 2013.

What changed? A realization of what it takes to make an effective New Year’s Resolution. At issue is not so much me or a lack of diligence on my part. Most of the time, the problem lies with the goals and New Years’ Resolutions I’ve created being outside of my control to some extent, as well as not having an efficient plan for working towards those goals and resolutions.


1. Create Measurable Goals for Your New Year’s Resolutions

Step one is to create goals and resolutions that you can actually measure in some way. You want to be able to see if you’ve hit your mark in completing your New Year’s Resolution, and you want to be able to see if you’ve at least moved closer towards the mark.

Create Measurable Goals for Your New Year's #Resolutions #goals Click To Tweet

2. Only Create Goals and New Year’s Resolutions that are within your power to achieve

Most people want to create a New Year’s Resolution to lose weight. That is not always within their power to achieve. What is within their power is eating healthily and working out daily. The results can be skewed from illness, medicines, funky metabolisms, and so forth. You can only control your own actions.

Only Create New Year's Resolutions that are within your power to achieve Click To Tweet

For example, as a blogger who lives off of ad revenue, I cannot control how much money I get each month. I cannot control how much traffic comes to my website either. What I can control is getting the word out about my website, creating quality posts, and making the site easy to access.

In terms of being frugal and saving money, I cannot control my ability to have an emergency fund with a certain amount of money in it by the end of the year. Things break, emergencies happen (thus the emergency fund). I can control putting money into it. I can decide on a goal to put every $1 bill and every handful of loose change I have into it.

3. Work Your Goals into Everyday Life

A New Year’s Resolution isn’t just something for new years’; if it’s going to be achieved, a New Year’s Resolution needs to be part of your everyday life.

For example, when it comes to weight loss, craft one or two easy, baby-steps to turn into daily habits. This could be something as simple as eating breakfast, or having salad for lunch, or working out first thing in the morning.

if it's 2B achieved, a New Year's Resolution needs 2B part of your everyday life. Click To Tweet

Craft habits based on the goals you want to achieve, and work to make those habits part of your daily life.

Studies have shown that it takes about 21 days for an action to become a habit. So, this is not going to be simple right away, but within a few months of faithfulness, your habits will likely become second nature to you.

it takes about 21 days for an action to become a habit Click To Tweet

4. Figure Out Your Weak Spots that Keep You from Achieving Your New Year’s Resolutions, and Craft Habits to Counter Them

We all have those weak areas in our lives that keep us from succeeding in our New Year’s Resolutions. For each person, it’s something different.

For example, one of my weak areas is wasting time mindlessly,  usually passed the time I should be in bed. I found that if I had one of those nights, where I stayed up late, watching some stupid TV show, or hanging out on Pinterest, I would probably not work out in the morning, I would probably not have my devotions in the morning, and I would probably not start being productive until mid-afternoon. To achieve many of my New Year’s Resolutions, I needed to nip that bad habit in the bud.

Figure Out Your Weak Spots + Craft Habits to Counter Them Click To Tweet

(If you follow me on Pinterest, and check out the time stamps, you probably know I’m still working on this one, but I have gotten better)

What about time and money wasted by running to the store for little things? This is a bad habit I think many of us find ourselves in. This past year, I created a new habit to work towards: taking inventory of the kitchen/pantry before going to the store, and determining to make do or do without if I missed something.

As with the late night Pinterest marathons, I’ve not 100% succeeded, but I have gotten 95% success in this area. Progress!

Another bad habit of mine is allowing clients to talk me into starting on design jobs for them before they have everything lined up for their new website. “I’ll get this out to you this weekend!”

I do this all the time, and each time I want to slap myself because I usually wind up waiting months (sometimes years) for them to give me the last few photos, lines of text, and other information….and of course waiting to be paid. This year, I started a new habit, called “I don’t start on your job or put you in the queue until you have everything ready to go, so I don’t wind up being a miserable grouch three months from now.”

Life is much more peaceful in my professional life this way.

5. Put Your Goals and New Year’s Resolutions before your face daily

This one is huge!

Put Your Goals and New Year's Resolutions before your face daily Click To Tweet

Last Christmas, I found this cool vintage mirror with a damaged mirror in it, so I painted it over with chalkboard paint, and on this board, I have my list of goals for the year. I have it hanging so that I see it first thing in the morning.

At first, I worried I had bit off more than I could chew because list seemed longer every day during those first two months. Soon, one item was crossed off as finished, then another, and another. Some items were moved to next year because they didn’t seem to fit with the other goals as I worked through them (that’s okay to do, you know).

Last month sometime, I crossed off the final New Year’s resolution off of my year-long to-do list. After leaving the satisfyingly complete to-do list hanging for a few weeks, I finally washed it off in anticipation for writing New Year’s Resolutions for 2014 on the mirror.

6. Work Your Goals and New Year’s Resolutions into your Internal Monologue

When you’re talking to yourself, remind yourself of the goals you determined were important to you, to help you make better choices.

When you're talking to yourself, remind yourself of goals + resolutions Click To Tweet

When I want to stay awake and look at crafts I’ll probably never do on Pinterest, I will sometimes say to myself, “Hey, we decided that staying up this late is bad for my exercise and devotional habits! Get to bed!”

When I’m bored and poking around on the computer, I would look up and see my to-do list, and remind myself that I should work on one of those items. What a difference that made.

7. Cut Yourself Some Slack and Major on Grace

Grace is a big theme this year, mostly because of that early Christmas present we got in February. Grace is also important in making your New Year’s Resolutions and Goals actually stick.

Your Goals and Resolutions should be a tool, not a taskmaster. Sure, they are there to give you a swift kick if you need it, but they should add depth and meaning to your life, not suck the fun out of it.

Your Goals and Resolutions should be a tool, not a taskmaster. Click To Tweet

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