How to Set New Year’s Resolutions that Stick!

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It’s that time of the year again when we get to evaluate the year gone by and look with hope to the year ahead. As we assess our achievements and failures, we must be open to learning from our mistakes and plan to do better in the future. This is why New Year’s resolutions are so important. They represent a chance to turn the page and metaphorically start over on a clean slate. They say that, “those who fail to plan, plan to fail” and with this thought in mind I have compiled a list of tips that will help you not only set winning resolutions but make sure that they actually stick beyond January. 

  1. Make it measurable 

Whether you are looking to lose weight, quit smoking or learn a new skill, make sure that whatever resolution you set has a measurable and expected end or result. With resolutions that are not easily quantifiable try to think about what achieving that goal would look like.  

For example- If your resolution is to exercise more, consider how you would know that you have improved. You can set a measurable goal such as being able to participate in a 10 km marathon or triathlon by the end of the year. If you are fit enough to not only participate, but to also complete the set task in good time and breath, then you can call it a win. 

2. Break it down 

“How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time” – African proverb. Although it’s important to set measurable and achievable resolutions don’t make them too easy and boring. Set bold, audacious and scary resolutions. The kind that get you thinking, strategizing and dreaming about how you will achieve them. If your resolutions scare you, even a little bit, that’s a good thing! The only thing that grows in the comfort zone are weeds and it’s time to exit the comfort zone and get working. You can do this by breaking down your resolution into small successive goals, instead of trying to achieve everything at once, take baby steps instead.  

For example- If your resolution is to quit smoking you can set yourself a target to have cut down the number of cigarettes in incremental margins until you are down to zero. You can also sign up for programs like @Smokendersme, which helps smokers to quit for good. 

3. Set deadlines  

As important as setting goals is, they don’t usually work unless they are attached to a deadline. A goal without a deadline is a dream. Learn to keep yourself on track and it may help to share your goals and deadlines with close family and friends that you trust to hold you accountable. In some instances, this might not be enough motivation so you may need to join a program or support group. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, rather it takes a certain measure of courage to be that vulnerable and it’s always better to ask for help on your own terms rather than to wait until desperation pushes you.  

For example- If you want to learn a new skill and you struggle to keep yourself motivated, you can sign up for an online program that offers exams and some sort of certificate at the end. One that also offers discussion groups and support if you have any questions would also help keep you focused. You can consider cheap and free options like Khan Academy, Udemy and Coursera. 

4. Sweeten the deal 

The beauty of setting and achieving a goal is that there is a sense of achievement and satisfaction that you inherently get. For most people this is reward enough. However, if you are like me, then you might need to sweeten the deal and set a reward for yourself for every goal and deadline you meet. The reward can be either big or small, the important thing is that it has to be worth it to you.  

For example- If your resolution is to be nicer to your co-workers, you can set a small reward for yourself at the end of each week that you refrain from flipping tables and shouting at people. It can be something as small as an ice cream cone or some other favorite treat. When you manage to be consistently nice for a longer period, let’s say 3 months, you can then treat yourself to something bigger like a spa day. Let’s be honest, some of us definitely need to bribe ourselves to be nicer and that’s ok. 

5. Assess, Adjust and Reset  

One of the most amazing things about being human is that we are meant to be ever growing and evolving. The whole point of setting resolutions is that we want to be intentional about personal growth. No one wants to feel stuck or remain in exactly the same position they were in a year ago. The down side is that growth can happen fast or slow. You can find that the person you were 6 months ago no longer exists and therefore the resolutions and goals you set are no longer relevant or applicable.

That’s why it’s so important to “begin with the end in mind” as Steve Covey puts it. If you are clear about why a resolution is important to you from the start you can take regular pit stops and assess if the ultimate goal is still applicable. If not, for whatever reason, don’t hold yourself ransom to a resolution that no longer works for you. Free yourself and focus on the resolutions that are still relevant. Don’t be afraid to assess, adjust and reset regularly in order to keep yourself focused and motivated. 

For example If your resolution was to get out of debt and you receive an unexpected influx of money that’s enough to cover your debt or your debt gets cancelled. This means that you have met your target, but you might need to learn financial management to ensure that you don’t fall into debt again. 


All in all, don’t be afraid of change or of challenging yourself to grow. If you have already set some audacious and exciting resolutions please let us know in the comments below so we can cheer you on! 

Also, if your resolution is to get fit or healthy; check out our assorted health and fitness products. 

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