How to Write Realistic New Year’s Resolutions You Can Actually Keep

2020 is your year! Just about now, everyone is making plans to win at life. It’s nice to get that automatic reset on January 1st.  And how long can you stick to all of these grand plans? Strava, a social network for athletes, actually pinpoints January 12th as “Quitter’s Day,” or when most people begin to falter on their New Year’s resolutions. When things go wrong, and they will, figure out how you can do better. Growth is like a muscle; you have to keep working at it. Making mistakes is part of the process, but there’s hope for all of us. Here are some ways to keep from being a negative statistic and write realistic New Year’s resolutions.

Start with the why.

The first question that Dr. Marcelo Campos of Harvard Medical School wants you to answer is “Why do you want to make the change?” We lose sight of these reasons in the day to day struggle. Review this often!

Try something brand new. 

The best New Year’s resolution idea is to start a new hobby. Volunteer in your community, pick up a guitar, watch some YouTube tutorials on basic car maintenance or download DuoLingo and learn Portuguese. A new hobby really keeps things in perspective. You’ve never done it before, and no one can blame you for not being very good at it! You’ll surprise yourself when you’re learning new tricks, and you’ll actually be strengthening your belief in your own ability to change and grow. 

Don’t make too many changes at once. 

Go big, or go home, right? Actually, think smaller. Change is hard, and you can either be encouraged by success or discouraged by failure. Pick one or two changes instead of ten. Even if losing weight, going to the gym every day and eating all your vegetables seem like related activities, it’s a drastic change. You can tire out your resolve if you have to work on many goals at the same time. 


Create and follow a mantra. 

Reshma Chamberlain, the cofounder of the Summersalt swimwear line, practices a different kind of resolution where her decisions are anchored around an intention for the year. “Ask and ye shall receive” was the one that brought her success in 2017. She believes that focusing this way helps her to seek opportunities in her life to practice. Think about something you want to improve and create your mantra around that. Some examples? Be thankful. Practice calm. Say “Yes.” Enjoy the moment.

Find a support system. 

Who is on your team? Working out with a partner adds accountability as well as a shoulder to lean on. Find a friend you can call or sit down with to share your progress or your challenges. Talk your New Year’s resolutions through. Don’t worry about comparing, just be each other’s cheerleaders. 

Set aside time to evaluate your progress.

Make it a habit – weekly, monthly, whatever is needed – to review your resolutions and reevaluate. Tweak your actions, strategize your plan and consider what barriers have to be removed. Working on your strategy and thinking critically about your actions is an important factor to success. 

Finally, compliment yourself! If you’re especially organized, you can have a built-in rewards system at different progress points. If not, be sure to celebrate small victories! Have you stuck with your plan for a week? A month? Celebration doesn’t have to be a vacation or a night out on the town, either. It can be as simple as posting a pat-on-the-back selfie post on social media and inviting your community to celebrate with you in this moment, a coffee date with a friend or a cheap facial mask and a glass of wine at home. Reinforce your success and get excited for who you are becoming in 2020. 

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