Making New Year’s resolutions that stick


It’s been said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

And yet, year after year, we make New Year’s resolutions – often the same ones! – and within weeks or months, 98% of the resolutions fail. Or, more accurately, we fail to follow through on them.

One thing specialists who understand human behavior know is that resolutions that are too broad or too vague are doomed to fail. For instance, “I resolve to lose XX pounds this year" or “I resolve to balance my budget" are mostly wishful thinking, assuming that willpower alone will help you achieve what you’re hoping for. What’s missing is a plan or roadmap to help make it happen.

The key is to go beyond wishful thinking and implement strategies to guide and inspire you:

  1. Make resolutions specific, measurable and achievable in a short time frame: For example, “I will lose 10 pounds by March 1 by walking an hour a day and cutting out fried foods and desserts."
  2. Make resolutions that are small and simple and tackle one at a time: Wanting to lose weight, balance your budget and write a book, all at the same time, is too unfocused and bound to fail. Choose one, break it down, be specific, and when you’ve succeeded, move on to your next resolution.
  3. Reward yourself: Being compared to a dog is probably the last thing any of us wants to hear! But there’s a lesson in how we treat our furry friends. When we train them and they successfully complete a task, we reward them to reinforce their behavior. We can benefit from the same strategy – if you succeed in your resolution, or reach the first of many set milestones, reward yourself with a gift, a night out, a day off, a self-high-five – anything that will motivate you for the next hill you’re climbing.
  4. Find a partner in crime: Changing your habits and behaviors is hard – which is why you’re still resolving to change them! Team up with a friend or family member who has the same or even a different challenge they’re tackling. Check in with each other, provide encouragement when they do well and a little tough love when they fall behind.

This New Year’s, try this 4-step strategy and we suspect you’ll have at least one less resolution to tackle for next year. And, as always, please share your thoughts and ideas in the Shop Talk blog community forum.

Did you know: You’re not alone

54% of us give up on our resolutions within 6 months and only 8% succeed by the end of the year.  (Source)

16 thoughts on “Making New Year’s resolutions that stick

  1. My resolution is to down size what I collected over the years from going to estate sales. I plan to send some things to auction and give others to charity. I figure other people can enjoy what I collected,
    and I will have less clutter to deal with.

  2. The approach is logical and straightforward though I generally don’t make New Year’s resolutions at thgis point in mjy life.

  3. I want to get out of debt and start planning for the time I`m living here on earth enjoying being alive and seeing my grandchildren grow up

  4. “Reward yourself: Being compared to a dog is probably the last thing any of us wants to hear!”

    Heck no! Comparing ourselves to dogs, cats, and many other animals would be an honor and too much to be compared to for we humans. So many are so loyal, loving no matter what we we go through, show their appreciation, and if they get mad at us one time, it doesn’t last long, when you show your love as much as you can to forgive and forget. 😉

    Anyway, yes, we do reward ourselves, and the biggest reward is when we make another person happy – happier. 🙂

  5. Interesting and true. I see friends and relatives always making resolutions and not keeping them. I don’t make resolutions. I just do what I want to do when I whant to do it.

  6. My New Year’s resolution this year is the same as last year and several years before that, and I’ve kept it every year. It is that I will not add even one teaspoon of sugar to my breakfast cereal, even though the only cereal I eat is frosted flakes.

  7. I reward myself by buying a smaller size outfit. Then my goal is to get to that size and enjoy my new clothes.

  8. I gave up on New Year’s resolutions when I realized I’m just not about to keep any! Why waste the time and energy?

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