How to Accomplish Your New Year's Resolutions

Three Parts:Creating Resolutions and Preparing to BeginStarting Your ResolutionsMaintaining and Accomplishing Your Resolutions

New Year’s resolutions are goals or promises that people make for the New Year holiday to try to make their upcoming year better in some way. Many people sometimes find it difficult to maintain and accomplish their resolutions. Here is a list of things you can do to help make sure you accomplish the goals you set for the New Year.

Part 1
Creating Resolutions and Preparing to Begin

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    Brainstorm about changes and improvements you'd like to make. These can be about anything, not just the big ones like quitting smoking and losing weight that many people associate with New Year's resolutions. Jot down some notes while doing the following:
    • Consider how you can improve your health. Ask yourself, Can I drink more water? Quit smoking? Stop eating fast food or fried food? Become vegetarian? Exercise more?
    • Consider your relationships with others. Are there ways that you can be a better spouse, parent, other family member, or friend?
    • Consider your work life. Ask yourself, Can I be more successful and happier at work? Be more organized? Stop procrastinating?
    • Consider ways to make a difference. Are there ways you could make a difference in the world through activism, awareness raising or promoting a cause?
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    Choose one or two attainable larger goals. Look over your notes and determine what items on it are most important to you. Don't take too long choosing; often it's the things that leap out at you straight away that have the most meaning for you personally.
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    Create “systems.” Systems are the ways that you carry out a larger goal. You need to break down large goals into smaller actions that can are easier to carry out. If you leave your larger goals too vague, you may get confused and change your mind frequently on the ways to accomplish them. This is the purpose of creating systems.
    • For example: if your goal is to lose 30 pounds in the following year, you can resolve to cut out fast food, soft drinks, sugary snacks and drinks, drink more water, and walk three days a week until March, and then gradually add in two days at the gym.[1]
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    Look at your list and reflect, using the SMART mnemonic. Make sure your goals are:
    • S – Specific (or Significant). This means your goals include systems for achieving them. You have specific actions that can be carried out that work toward your larger goal.
    • M – Measurable. This means that the changes you see once the goal is reached is noticeable. You will feel different (better), because you are healthier, because your family or social life has improved, etc.
    • A – Attainable. This means that the goal is realistic and can be reached. There are benefits to aiming high, but you don’t want to aim so high that you become disappointed and discouraged from making any changes at all if you can’t reach the goal you set.
      • For instance, if you’ve never run a day in your life, don’t make running a marathon your goal quite yet. Perhaps start with shorter races like a 3K or 5K, and work up from there.
    • R – Relevant (or Rewarding). This means that there is a real need for your goal. You have been unsatisfied with a certain area of your life for some time, and you have a strong motivation to want to change it.
    • T – Trackable. This is similar to measurable, but means that you can assess your progress throughout the process. Have you made a schedule and are you following it? Are you losing weight gradually (if that’s your goal)? Are you getting along better with your loved ones? Etc. [2]
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    Talk to others about your goals. Discuss your goals and why you made them with your family and friends. This step is very important!
    • Ask for others’ support on these goals throughout the year. If possible, team up and visit the gym or shop at the health food store together. Ask them to speak up if you slip and order a Diet Coke instead of a water, or forget another goal on your list.
    • People who tell others about their goals are more likely to accomplish them, whether it’s because they have extra support they need, or because they’re afraid of being embarrassed if they don’t accomplish them, it’s hard to say.[3]
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    Print out copies of your resolutions. Save a copy on each computer or electronic device you own, such as your cell phone and tablet.
    • Email a copy to your work address and save it to your work computer.
    • Make a smaller copy and keep it in your wallet.
    • Post a copy on the outside of your refrigerator! Use bright paper so it catches your eye and don't let it get hidden behind coupons and artwork.

Part 2
Starting Your Resolutions

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    Create a schedule. Even more important than a specific deadline for your goals is to set a schedule of how you will reach the goal. Some goals are actually life-long changes that you will continue after the goal is reached.
    • For instance, systems for weight loss and for improving your relationships don’t necessarily “end” once you’ve reached the goal. To keep weight off, you have to maintain the healthier lifestyle system that you created. To maintain healthy relationships, you would want to continue the things you started doing in your resolutions. So consider:
    • If the goal is losing weight, be sure that you have researched a healthy amount of time to lose a certain amount of weight, and write down your exercise schedule and the changes you will make in your diet for each day.
    • If you’re trying to be a better parent or friend, or to be more successful at work, make a schedule of when and how you will do each thing that’s on your systems list.[4]
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    Start following your plan immediately. Don't wait for inspiration to strike. The best thing to do is start on January 1st and start tracking your progress.
    • If your goal is to lose weight, don’t say, “I’ll start tomorrow.” Start right away! Starting may actually be the toughest part, but once you get into a routine it should become easier. [5]
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    Create accountability. Set up dates for evaluation with a mentor. This helps you to stay focused and evaluates methods for improvement.
    • It's even better if you find someone who has the same resolution. If you have a friend who’s also trying to lose weight, check in with each other and motivate each other. It may also help to consult with your doctor or a trainer about your progress
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    Remind yourself about your goals. For every day on your calendar or schedule, write down what you will do for that day, what time you will do it, and don't forget to actually do it, no matter how busy you are.
    • If your goal is losing weight, write down what you will eat, and when and how you will exercise each week.
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    Focus on the process rather than the end goal. Take each step one at a time and be happy with your progress. The only way you'll get to where you want to go is to complete every small step along the way, checking it off with pride as you accomplish each step.[6]
    • Remind yourself of the weight you are losing or how you are feeling healthier instead of the fact that you haven’t reached a certain number of lost pounds yet. You will get there.
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    Create your environment so that you will accomplish your goals. It’s also good to get rid of habits that don’t coincide with your goals and may contribute to you being unable to reach them.
    • For example, set your running shoes next to the door. Put fruits and veggies in the front of the fridge. Get rid of the junk food and don’t buy more.
    • If something you regularly do for fun with family and/or friends includes eating out at places where most of the food is unhealthy, choose a different place that offer healthy meals. Or, don’t eat out at all and do something else like go for a walk or a bike ride instead.

Part 3
Maintaining and Accomplishing Your Resolutions

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    Reward yourself. Determine ahead of time what rewards will be at small milestones of accomplishment. Have frequent small rewards and a “grand prize” for completion.
    • If your goal is losing weight, you might buy new clothes to replace old ones that don’t fit anymore at each milestone, and then plan a nice vacation for when you’ve reached your goal.
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    Remind yourself of your successes. It can be hard to maintain your motivation and dedication to making a change in your life when you can't see immediate results for your efforts.
    • At each low point, have faith that persisting and being consistent in reaching your goal will pay off in the long run. If you’re trying to lose weight and are struggling to keep up with your workouts, just think about how each minute you exercise burns fat and gets you closer to your goal.[7]
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    Face your fear of change. Fearing change often stops us from achieving a goal. Making a goal sounds good at the time, but then the fear of change surfaces. To avoid this happening to you, realize that your excuses are a way of covering up a fear of change.
    • Look beyond "I can't" and start substituting this with "I can" and "I am".
    • Identify your excuses for not going through with parts of your goal. By listing excuses, you can see them for what they are and move beyond the fear of change.
    • Sidestep blaming other people or circumstances for not achieving your goals. If you take responsibility for achieving your goal, these external factors cannot sap your power to do what you've said you'd do.
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    Recognize your self-defeating behaviors. Write down the things you do out of habit that distract you from what really matters. Then, list things that you consider to be more positive and fulfilling behaviors and choices you want to make instead.
    • This includes adjusting the habits mentioned in a previous step, even if they were things you once enjoyed. For instance, if are trying to lose weight and you eat out with family or friends as bonding time, either choose restaurants that offer healthy meals or decide to do something else fun together instead of eating out.
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    Begin again if you slip up. Everyone encounters occasional outside stressors and events that take us out of focus on our goals. Use Monday as your day to regroup and start over if you slip and have a bad week completing your goals for any reason.
    • The “Monday Campaigns” is a group of nonprofit health organizations that organize various healthy things to do on Mondays, such as “Meatless Mondays,” “De-Stress Mondays,” and “Move-It Mondays.” Don’t be too hard on yourself if you slip and remind yourself of the progress you have made. Just start over on Monday.[8]
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    Lean on your support team. Whoever you've chosen to help you, be it family, friends, a life coach, therapist, or someone else, lean on them to support you through times of weakness, when you need a booster to get back on track.
    • Don't expect to do this completely alone; look for other people's advice, ideas and feedback to help you keep going.[9]
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    Keep a journal. Document at least one thing every single day in the following year for which you feel grateful and one sentence for the progress you have made.
    • When writing, consider: What memorable moments can you draw from each day? In what ways did you grow today or find that your awareness shifted? Keeping note of this will help you to stay grounded and motivated with your goals.


  • Don't try to plan your resolutions when you're in a bad mood or pressed for time. Taking time to make a thoughtful list will make your goals easier to achieve.
  • Consider setting up a little competition with your family or friends to keep focused on a tough goal. Should the loser buy a healthy lunch? Maybe take a family vacation to a great beach if everyone hits their goals by July.
  • Research your goals. Be sure you understand how to schedule your system to accomplish what you want to accomplish.
  • Keep a Diary of your goals. Mark when you began, and set a date to accomplish them by. Do this for every goal and try to always improve upon your previous time.

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