Your Step-by-Step Guide to Maintaining New Year’s Resolutions All Year Long

With the new year fast approaching, you’re likely busy scribbling down some new things you want to accomplish over the course of the next year. Maybe you want to spend more time with your friends and family. Perhaps you’re finally going to learn how to crochet. Or, maybe (like many people) you’re aiming to drop a few pounds—particularly after spoiling yourself with all of those holiday treats.

You’re filled with enthusiasm and ambition—this is the year that you’re going to take those resolutions seriously and finally be your best, most productive self.

But, if you know one thing about New Year’s resolutions, it’s this: pretty much nobody sticks to them. Yes, more than 40% of Americans sit down and make resolutions. But, an underwhelming 8% of us actually achieve the goals we outline at the beginning of the year.

So, what gives? Why are we so ready and willing to set these goals—but not nearly as ambitious when it comes to actually achieving them?

Well, maintaining your resolutions involves a bit more than simply scribbling your objective on a piece of paper and taping it to your fridge. Luckily, there are a few tips you can put into play that will help you actually work towards those goals all year—not just the week after the confetti falls.

1. Be Selective

Perhaps one of the most important parts of the entire resolutions process is being strategic and selective with the goals you set for yourself. So, what does a good resolution look like? It should fulfill the following criteria:

  • Appealing: In order to really commit yourself to a goal, you need to be passionate about achieving it. Is the resolution you’re setting something you really want? Or, is it a lackluster ambition that you feel like you should want?
  • Realistic: Losing 200 pounds in one year? It’s ambitious—but, it’s probably not that attainable. Be honest with yourself about what you can accomplish in one year. Otherwise, you’re simply setting yourself up for disappointment.
  • Specific: Sticking with the common resolution of losing weight as our example, you want to make sure to be specific. Sure, perhaps your main objective is to see the number on the scale go down. But, how will you know when you’re successful? Did you achieve the goal if you lose 20 pounds by the end of the year? What about only one pound? Be specific with your resolutions. It’s motivating, and also sets up a way to measure your own success.

2. Create a Plan

Here’s the problem with many New Year’s resolutions: people know what exactly they’d like to accomplish, but they never create any sort of plan for working towards that. In order to inspire yourself to actually get moving on those goals, you need to take the time to outline the steps you need to take.

The best time to do this is when setting your resolutions. Let’s stick with our classic example of losing weight. Perhaps you’ve jotted down your resolution of “Lose 20 pounds.” Underneath that, write a line that says, “I will accomplish this by:” and then list your action items. These can be things like “exercise at least three times per week” and “eat one serving of fruit and one serving of vegetables each day.”

Your mission is simply to determine all of the specific things that will help you to reach that goal. This prevents you from being intimidated by one large, ambiguous resolution—you’ll already know the first step you need to take!

3. Set Milestones

A year is a long time—which is probably why 25% of us don’t even stick with our resolutions for a total of seven days. So, breaking that year long timeframe into smaller, more manageable sections is a great strategy for sticking with your goals.

Instead of saying that you want to lose 20 pounds over the course of the year, work towards losing five pounds by the end of March. Doing this makes your entire resolution feel a little more attainable. Plus, those mini milestones give you a great chance to celebrate your successes!

4. Monitor Your Progress

Achieving your resolution doesn’t all come down to crossing your fingers and just hoping it all works out. It involves some serious work and commitment. And, at times, it might even require some adjustments.

But, you’ll never know what needs to be changed or improved if you aren’t monitoring how you’re doing. Perhaps you haven’t made much progress on your weight loss goal. So, you decide to kick up your cardio exercise and increase your water intake. Those are things you wouldn’t have even known you needed to do had you not been monitoring your headway.

Yes, your resolution is for the entire year. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t check in on how you’re doing before that next champagne bottle pops!

5. Reward Yourself

Trying to achieve something new and challenging isn’t easy—and any sort of success or progress is worth celebrating.

So, don’t forget to reward yourself and acknowledge all of the steps you’re taking towards your larger goal! Your commitment is worth a pat on the back, even if the year isn’t over yet.

This is why setting milestones within your resolution is so helpful—it gives you plenty of opportunities to see your improvement and celebrate the changes you’ve made so far. Plus, taking a little bit of time for some self-pride is a great way to give yourself an ego boost and motivate you to continue working towards that goal. It’s a win-win!

We all set resolutions for the same reason: we’re seeking self-improvement and we desperately want to achieve that goal we enthusiastically set at the start of a new year. But, sometimes that excitement isn’t quite enough—you need to put in some serious legwork in order to stick to your resolution.

No, it’s not always easy. But, it’s definitely doable. Implement these tips, and you’ll be well on your way to actually upholding your New Year’s resolution—not just for a few weeks, but all year long!

Written by

Kat is a Wisconsin-based freelance writer covering topics related to careers, self-development, and entrepreneurship. Her byline has appeared in numerous outlets and publications, including Forbes, Fast Company, The Muse, QuickBooks, Business Insider, and more. Find out more about her on her website, or connect with her on Twitter.

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