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How to set New Year’s resolutions that stick

October 02, 20205 min read

How to set New Year’s resolutions that stick

Have you ever set New Years’ resolutions with great gusto, only to find that by the end of January you’ve broken them already?

Maybe it’s time to set some goals that you can actually achieve this year, and have a really great year where you accomplish some things that until now, you’ve only ever dreamed of doing.

Here’s what I’ve found helps me when setting New Years’ resolutions :

1. Create goals, rather than resolutions

Resolutions generally are the sort that involve you having to give up something or do something you really don’t want to do. I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t motivate me much. So I suggest you create a goal, instead. One that excites you.

For example, if you were going to set a resolution to eat more healthily, then create a goal to ‘fit into those size 12 jeans’ again.

You need a goal that conjures up a mental image of something that is very appealing to you.


You may think that there is very little difference between deciding to ‘eat healthily’ and ‘fit into those size 12 jeans’, but the former is actually the method, whereas the latter is the end goal. It’s what you really want. If you think about it, you don’t really want to eat more healthily, but you DO want a strong benefit associated with eating more healthily. So pick that strong benefit, and make that your goal – it may be that you want more energy, to feel better about yourself or to live longer – or to fit into your favourite pair of jeans of course!

You will be far more motivated to aim towards it when your goal represents a benefit that you desire. The method is what will get the job done, but the goal is what you want to FOCUS on.

To take another example from sports, imagine an athlete with the desire to win an Olympic gold medal. The gold medal is the prize, whereas the athlete will need to train every day, for years in order to get there. The athlete won’t set a resolution or goal, to train more. The goal is to win gold, and the method to achieve that goal involves training, eating the right foods, and getting enough sleep, amongst other things.

2. Create just a few key goals

Don’t set a lot of goals. I used to make this mistake, over and over again! I’m the over-ambitious type who would write down a bunch of goals for every area of my life, and then because I was trying to achieve the impossible, end up getting very few of them done (and feel demoralised!).

No one can sustain working at many goals at once, for a long period of time, say a year. Especially not if it involves creating new habits with each one.

You need just a few to focus on. Any more than about 3 key goals, and your mind is scattered in too many directions. It also means that your energy is diffused.

So pick 1 goal from each of a few of the main areas of your life you’d like to change, for example in business, your health and your relationships.

3. Make the goals really specific

You want to decide exactly what you’re aiming for. If it’s to make more money, write down exactly how much you’d like to make, and break down the ways you’ll make it. If it’s to lose weight, decide what your goal weight is and the deadline date on which you want to reach that weight.

Make your actions really specific too – without specific action plans, you’ll not have anything concrete to start working on. Decide how you’ll lose that weight – will you exercise at home with a DVD or join a gym? How many days per week will you exercise and what time of day?

4. Go after them with everything you’ve got

Don’t just write down goals, never to look at them again.

Write reminders for yourself in prominent places, find images of the thing you want to get done and post them up on your computer, mirror and/or in your wallet. Seek out people who are accomplishing what you want and learn from them – in person or through their books/program.

Write down all the key actions needed to accomplish each of your 3 (or less) goals. Then take those actions, and schedulethem into a calendar or planner. I’ve found that what goes into my planner, gets done.Plan goals for 1 year in advance, but actions for the next3 months only; since you may change strategy or tactics mid-way, you don’t want to write in too much in advance.

If you have a goal, you’re going to have to also put everything you can in place, to get that thing done. need certain resources to accomplish it? Get what you need straightaway.

The sooner you take action towards a key goal, the better. Do something towards accomplishing one of your goals in the next 24 hours, no matter how little.


5. Make achieving your goal as simple as possible

Are there 5 different strategies you could use to accomplish each of your goals? Pick one strategy per goal if it will get you there. If that strategy doesn’t work, then try the second one.

The simpler your route towards attaining your goal, the more focussed you’ll be and the less you’ll have to change in your life or have to think about.

For example : I am following a diet that involves just cutting out ‘white carbs’. That’s the strategy: no white carbohydrates for 6 days a week.

There’s no measuring of food, no calorie counting and no complicated meal plans – just removing ‘white carbs’ and allowing myself one ‘cheat day’ a week.

I’m finding it easier to follow than anything I’ve done before. I don’t have to modify the meals I make for my family – I just subtract the ‘white carb’ from my plate and add more vegetables. I’m finding that the less I have to change, plan for or work out, the easier it is for me to work on this goal.

Here’s to you achieving your goals this year!

What about you now? Have you set New Years resolutions for yourself? What are the ways you set yourself up for success in them?

Sue Sundstrom

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