Your New Year’s Resolutions: How to Make Them Stick

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Every year, millions of people write New Year’s Resolutions. They resolve to do better in the coming year. Here are 7 ways to make those New Year’s Resolutions stick.

This year I will

They promise themselves that come January 1, they will eat more healthfully, lose weight, exercise more, de-clutter their home (we can help with that — watch for our Easy Steps to an Organized Life in 31 Days released today on Kindle and on paperback in a few days), learn a new skill, and more.

Very often, these resolutions fail in a few short weeks.

And the cycle continues.

Next year, we will make new resolutions… or a recycled version of the previous year, and without the tools necessary to achieve success, those goals will meet the same fate.

“Most people have a toxic relationship with the term [New Year’s resolutions]. So from the beginning, we set ourselves up for failure because we know that anywhere from 50 to 80 percent of people are going to ultimately get off their path of resolution,” says Dr. Stephen Graef, a sports psychologist at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.

How, then, can we make those resolutions stick?

Graef believes the reason so many resolutions fail is that they are too broad, too big, or too many.

“We might really try to shoot for the moon too quickly and that doesn’t work out, or not only do we want to go to the moon but we want to go to Mars and Neptune and Saturn. And if we try to do all of those, we don’t have the mental and physical resources to be able to accomplish that,” he says.

This year, plan for success. Adopt these strategies, avoid obvious pitfalls, and celebrate your achievements.

New Year’s Resolutions: 7 Steps to Make Them Stick

1. Be honest with yourself.

Be honest with yourself and figure out what is important and valuable to you so you can set a goal that comes from within.

2. Stick to one thing.

Trying to accomplish multiple goals at once will quickly become overwhelming and only lead to failure. Focus on one goal at a time. Primarily goals you are passionate about or that will benefit you in significant ways. Graef recommends first focusing on the behaviors that get the mind and body running more effectively, like exercising and eating nutritious foods.

3. Make SMART goals.

When it comes to setting goals, stick to the SMART method. That means making your goals:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time-based

Identify concrete and specific goals and the steps needed to achieve them.

4. Arrange your environment for success.

If certain aspects of your environment are hindering your progress, change them. Want to wake up earlier but find yourself hitting snooze every morning? Graef suggests putting your alarm clock on the other side of the room so you will be forced to get up to turn it off. Can’t stop snacking? Get the junk food out of your pantry and refrigerator and replace them with healthier options like fruits, vegetables, and nuts.

5. Chart your progress.

Once you’ve identified your goal and have a specific plan set for how to achieve it, tracking your progress is key to success.

6. Make yourself accountable.

Take steps to make yourself accountable for your goals to help stay motivated.

7. Celebrate success!  

It’s important to be compassionate with yourself, acknowledge your slips, and move on. And begin again.

Celebrate success — however small!



  1. I kept my 2016 new years resolution I did the dishes before i left for work. Everyday in 2016. It was easy to do. Mary White

    1. That’s awesome! What kept you motivated to keep it going? I’m also one of those who hates to come home to dirty dishes after a long day. I just need to keep training my son because he’s not bothered by it at all!

      1. My husband carried me over the thrash hold 42 years ago and said the Kitchen is mine you do the dishes. So I have! He has cooked for me.

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