5 Tips for Keeping New Year’s Resolutions

new yearEvery year, millions of people worldwide create New Year’s resolutions. In my experience, keeping these goals will happen when Harvard wins the Super Bowl (I used to say when Notre Dame plays for the National Championship, but I had to revise my metrics last year). In fact, according to Randi Walsh at Empower Network:

  • … 25% give up on their New Years Resolutions after just one week
  • … 80% give up on their New Years Resolutions after 20 days
  • … only 8% actually keep their New Years Resolutions all year

Here’s an example: On a group blog I write with, we were all asked to share our resolutions with the Universe in January, then check in throughout the year on our progress. No one in the entire group–read that Zilch.–achieved theirs (well, I did, which made our group 8%). The reasons were varied and left me wondering why create resolutions if you so quickly brush them aside?

Why? It makes people feel good. They want to believe their lives will be better at the end of the year than they were at the beginning. Let’s look at the top four resolutions (according to Amber J. Tresca at About.com):

  1. Increase exercise
  2. Be more conscientious about work or school
  3. Develop better eating habits
  4. Stop smoking, drinking, or using drugs (including caffeine)

These aren’t hard and still people aren’t achieving them. Who can’t ‘increase exercise’? Or ‘be more conscientious about work’? Cut out a few chips–one chip–and you’ve ‘developed better eating habits’. So given the ease with which the average person could succeed at these goals, why do they so soundly fail?

I have no idea. There is no shortage of well-meaning people who will suggest ways to keep your New Year’s resolutions. Here are five you’ve probably read:

  1. make them specific
  2. make them realistic
  3. share them with others
  4. have deadlines
  5. make them fun and rewarding

Those sound helpful, don’t they? Problem is, they don’t work. Who out there is going to revise their resolutions to make them more specific, more realistic, meet a deadline, and then share all that with friends? I’d rather take a long walk in tight shoes. They’re as useless as those suggestions for using leftover wine to make ice cubes. Who ever has leftover wine?

I’m going to fix this for you. I have five tips that work for keeping your New Year’s Resolutions:

  • install a bell on your phone that rings randomly. When it dings, put the potato chip down, or jog in a circle, or ask a co-worker how you can help them (Work with me here: You don’t have to actually DO anything for them).
  • delegate. Then it’s someone else’s problem. You’ve accomplished your goal. Check it off.
  • hire someone. This has the added benefit of helping the unemployment rate.
  • include stuff you’ve already done. For example, if you’re not the most sociable type and one of your resolutions is to get out more, count that New Year’s party you’ve already committed to. Now you’re done. Check it off. Move on.
  • include nebulous goals like ‘spend less’. You can do that by skipping one Starbucks.

At the end of 2014, your friends will ask how you did it and you’ll feel accomplished, confident, and more sure of your ability to complete other goals. Check back here in December 2014 and let me know how you did so I can congratulate you.

Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. She is webmaster for six blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for Examiner.com and TeachHUB, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, a freelance journalist on tech ed topics, and a monthly contributor to Today’s Author. In her free time, she is editor of a K-8 technology curriculum and technology training books for how to integrate technology in education. Currently, she’s editing a thriller that should be out to publishers next summer. Contact Jacqui at her writing office or her tech lab, Ask a Tech Teacher.

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17 thoughts on “5 Tips for Keeping New Year’s Resolutions

  1. Sigh. I stopped making resolutions for all the same reasons as above. I strive to do things better, get more out of my day and stress less. Will I see a huge difference at the end of the year? A lot had changed in 2013 and all I can manage is to improve on anything I attempt in 2014. 😀

  2. I’m happy to say that I achieved one of my last year’s resolutions, which was to revise and place at least 6 of my long short stories on to Kindle. Well, they are listed, so I have proof that I did it.
    As for the rest, I could argue that I was too busy doing the above, but that would be a lie.
    Oh, and I also joined the local Monday walking group and bought a pedometer that broke after a few months, but I did carry on walking nevertheless..
    Now some busy body has given me a new pedometer for Christmas that will hopefully last a little longer and keep my walking incentive high on my list of priorities.
    I don’t have any pointers as to how I achieved either of these goals, but I guess I simply wrote one word after the other until I was done and placed one foot in front of the other until I’d walked most of the Monday walks.
    This year I hope to Kindle two of my already written novels that need extensive revision.
    So there I’ve said it! Now hopefully I’ll again continue walking and writing until I’m done.
    Best New Year wishes to all of you! Hope you achieve your goals, even if you don’t keep your resolutions.

    • I like the idea of a pedometer. It would be interesting to see how far you walk an average day–just doing stuff. I tried to track it in my classroom (had a pedometer but it too broke) and kept getting distracted.

  3. Oh boy! I think I can do these. 🙂

  4. Haha. Sometimes I put things on my daily to-do list like “drink coffee” or “get dressed”. That way, I can feel a sense of accomplishment as I cross those off. Well, I don’t actually cross “drink coffee” off because that one is never fully accomplished.

    As for new years resolutions, the problem I’ve had is usually that the resolutions are too broad or too aggressive given my available time. So largely I stopped doing them. Anti-resolutions, though… I can do them with ease!

  5. The resolution I most need to make a success – talk less. I have a tendency to flap my lips and exercise my glottis when I should be flapping my thighs and exercising my gluteus. Otherwise known as shut up and lose weight.
    But I like your approach. I could be successful at – something!
    Not at all surprised that you were the 8% – spoiler! 😀

  6. Jacqui maybe as I age I become more cynical and realise I should not make the resolutions call…….Having said that I do want to be healthy and productive with writing this year……so I have just told myself fifteen minutes a day on my two WIP’s and it usually stretches out. Thanks for the tips.

  7. I love the bell dinging strategy!

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