How Not To Fail At Your New Year’s Resolutions

It’s said that the best way not to blow your New Year’s resolutions is not to make any. But why would we ignore our annual desire to strive for better? Go ahead and set your intentions, then read on to discover how not to fail at your New Year’s resolutions.

The Good Behind Our New Year’s Resolutions

Making resolutions at the start of a new year is an enlightened, hopeful thing to do. Why? Because it means we’re aware there are improvements we can make in our lives and believe we are capable of making them.

Setting resolutions also means we see the promise in the new year ahead of us. We celebrate the fresh start and revel in all its possibilities.

silhouette of face and sun in waves illustrating New Year's resolutions possibilities

The Most Common Resolutions

New Year’s resolutions come in all shapes and sizes, but they all boil down to one thing: the desire to make something better.

A few of the most common resolutions include:

  • Getting more exercise
  • Losing weight
  • Saving money
  • Improving diet
  • Reducing Stress
  • Pursuing a professional goal
  • Spending more time with family

The problem, though, is that most people recycle the same resolution year after year because they never follow through.

Why Our Resolutions Fail

Our intentions are surely good when we set our resolutions each year. So why can’t we make good on them?

The following quote sums it up nicely:

A goal without a plan is just a wish.

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

The reason most people fail to succeed with their resolutions is really very simple: they have not made a plan to succeed!

notepad reading a goal without a plan is just a wish for New Year's resolutions

How Not To Fail At Your New Year’s Resolutions

If you truly want to succeed with your resolutions for the new year, you need a plan of action.

The four steps below are simple yet powerful. They will help you formulate the necessary plan of action, keep you on track, and, finally, reward your success.

1. Get Specific

The fastest way to lose motivation with a new goal is to not have a clear definition of it.

Rather than state your resolution in broad terms, get as specific as you can.

Getting specific creates actionable, measurable goals:

  • General: I resolve to lose weight.
  • Specific: I will strive to lose 5 pounds per month this year.
  • General: I want to get a better job.
  • Specific: I will update my resume and apply to at least three jobs per week until I find a better job.
  • General: I intend to spend more time with family.
  • Specific: I will schedule two Saturdays a month exclusively for family fun.
  • General: I want to save more money.
  • Specific: I will put $20 per paycheck into savings.

2. Create Accountability

Once you’ve determined your specific course of action, the next step is to hold yourself accountable. The best way to do this is with an “accountability partner.”

Knowing you have to “report” to someone else on the progress you’ve made towards your resolution is a powerful motivator!

If you know of someone who shares the same type of goal as you (getting more exercise, saving more money), see if you can formally support each other through the year.

If you don’t know anyone with the same goal, then reach out to anyone who will support you. This might be a spouse, sibling, friend, or co-worker.

Once you find your accountability partner, set up a regular “check-in” schedule to keep you on track.

two women holding mugs smiling accountability partners for New Year's resolutions

If you can’t find or aren’t comfortable having another person act as an accountability partner, then resolve to be your own advocate. Schedule a specific time each week to evaluate your progress. Sunday is a good day to check in because it’s often easiest, if it’s necessary, to get back on track on a Monday.

3. Let Technology Help With Your New Year’s Resolutions

Whatever your resolution for the year, there’s an app (more likely hundreds!) for that.

There are apps that will track your calories, count your steps, or automatically transfer funds to a savings account.

Hand holding phone with app icons drawn around to show how technology can help with New Year's resolution success

What’s more, there are websites, online classes, virtual library access, and social media groups that provide a wealth of knowledge and 24/7 support for nearly any goal you have.

Harnessing the power of technology is one of the most powerful ways you can help yourself stick to your resolutions. So find an app, join a group, and/or sign up for services that will help you succeed.

4. Reward Your Success

One of the best ways to keep yourself motivated is to reward yourself for sticking with your resolutions and reaching your goals.

The only rule is you can’t pick a reward that undermines your goal. For example, don’t go spending $50 after you’ve saved $100 or splurge on a bacon cheeseburger to celebrate a month of healthful eating.

Some positive rewards might include:

  • A new outfit for reaching a weight loss goal
  • A trip to a hiking trail to reward a fitness goal
  • A new cookbook to reward a healthy eating goal

A true reward will never undermine your progress but will motivate you to earn it.

Successful New Year’s Resolutions

As you celebrate the new year and all the potential it holds, consider how much happier you’ll be if you follow through on the resolutions that are important to you.

No one can guarantee you’ll be successful with your New Year’s resolutions, of course. But if you:

  • Set specific, actionable goals
  • Establish accountability
  • Utilize helpful technology and
  • Reward your milestones

You will surely increase your chances of success.

silhouette of woman at sunset with arms upraised in celebration

The only downside? Next year you’ll finally have to come up with some new New Year’s resolutions.