A Fool-Proof Plan To Following Through On Your New Year’s Resolutions

The top 10 resolutions for 2020 and how to ensure you master yours.

Image for post
Image for post

When the new year rolls around, most of us think of it as the most appropriate time to set our sights on a ‘fresh start’ and to finally tackle the list of goals we’ve been jotting down since we failed to follow through on the previous year’s goal. In fact, a study shared by Yougov suggested that nearly 12% of the people surveyed held onto the same resolutions they had in 2019, despite only 7% stating they followed through.

Perhaps this is a second attempt?

Regardless of the journey to arrive at your resolutions, there are a few tips that can help keep the course clear and goals achievable throughout 2020. But first, let’s take a look at some of the most popular New Year’s resolutions people chose for 2020:

Exercise more (50%)

Save money (49%)

Eat healthy (43%)

Lose weight (37%)

Reduce stress (34%)

Get more sleep (30%)

Stick to a budget (30%)

Focus on spiritual growth (28%)

Travel more (25%)

Learn a new skill (25%)

*Percentages are provided by YouGov**

While each of these goals is achievable for all people, there seems to be consistency in falling short, rather than following through so the question remains — how do we ensure that we are maximizing our chances of resolution success?

Here are a few tips to help that have been beneficial to me thus far:

Focus on one specific resolution/goal

Every year, millions of adults resolve to “lose weight” or “get in shape” during the next year. Instead of selecting such an ambiguous goal, focus on something more concrete that you can realistically set your sights on.

For example, you might commit to losing 10 pounds or running a mini-marathon. For me, recovering from hip surgery set me back quite a bit in my workout routine (and by quite a bit, I mean brought it to a near screeching halt) so my goal is to simply work out 5 days a week with a healthy mix of strength training and cardio.

Choosing a concrete and achievable goal gives you the opportunity to plan exactly how you are going to accomplish your goal over the course of the year. If you mix in several all at ones, it can easily become overwhelming to the extent of giving up.

While you might have a long list of potential New Year’s Resolutions, Richard Wiseman, a professor of psychology at Hertfordshire University, suggests that you should instead pick a single goal and focus your energies on it, rather than running the risk of spreading yourself too thin among a number of different objectives.

Taking on too much can be intimidating and a tad bit discerning, especially when certain goals require us to establish new behavioral patterns, which takes time.

Plan ahead

Don’t wait until the last minute to set your resolution in place. Though it may be nearing the end of January, every day provides you 24 hours to introduce practices that cater to the success of your goal. By spending time thinking and planning for the things that you will need to change or keep consistent, you are maximizing your chances for regularity and eventually habits that become second nature.

When you start working towards a goal without a plan in place, it might become difficult to push through resistance and difficulty as each arises. Something I have begun to do is write down my goal as well as a list of the things I can do to achieve that goal. So for me, I have a clear schedule of my daily workouts plastered on my office desk, dresser, and bathroom mirror so before I even get out of bed in the morning, I know what is expected of me.

By focusing on working your day around your goal, rather than the other way around, you are providing yourself the advantage of winning. Not only does writing down your goals and action items helpful for self-awareness, but it also allows your subconscious to anticipate any potential setbacks so it can be prepared for each.

Avoid repetition of previous years’ failures

Another strategy for keeping your New Year’s Resolution is to break the habit of making the exact same resolution year after year.

“If people think they can do it they probably can, but if they’ve already tried and failed, their self-belief will be low.” ~ Richard Wiseman

Should you choose to stick with the same goals as previous years, take some time to focus on the reasons for the previous failures in order to prepare for better results this time around. What needs to change about your approach to drive the outcome you are working for? What could prevent you from achieving the goal?

The better you understand all angles of your goal and can prepare for the obstacles that are bound to happen along the way, the less likely you will be to give up at the first sign of difficulty.

Tell people about your resolution

Ever noticed how much easier it is to break a promise to yourself than to others? Now imagine what would change if you were to share with the world your goals. I watched an interview the other day of a young man who was speaking about his weight loss journey and he shared the impact sharing his goal with others had on his desire to get up and continue working towards his goals every day. He explained that the moment he posted a video saying that he was committing to daily exercise, healthy eating, and hopeful weight loss, the more difficult it became for him to ignore that promise going forward. He adopted the mindset of, “They’re all expecting this of me now” and it kept him moving in a progressive direction.

The same can be said about each of us. While you don’t have to go the route of social media, by telling a few family members and/or friends, you are creating informal accountability partners — people that know your greater goal enough to know whether or not you are doing the things you committed to initially.

The moment I decided I was going to join the gym, I shared with my family and friends my plan to go every day, Monday through Friday, no matter what. I have since maintained this goal, but would be lying if I said having the people around me know about it hasn’t pushed me to want to remain consistent. Sure, we do things for our own benefit, but there’s something to be said about the people who have the information to hold us accountable. Having people who just simply know can make a world of difference in your subconscious behavior and hinder your ability to fill in opportunities of ownership with excuses.

Reward yourself

I have shared before the importance of celebrating the ‘small wins’ throughout life and the same can be true about the way we navigate our new year’s resolutions. Though the year may only last 12 months, your commitment to a healthier you, in some form, should remain long after the year is over.

For that reason, there is bound to be a series of ups and downs along the way, which is why you have to allow yourself to celebrate the little achievements along the way and reward yourself for consistency in your progress. Telling yourself what a great job you are doing isn’t ignoring the other work that is still left to be done, but it is nurturing your soul to know you are heading in the right direction and should be proud of the growth made thus far.

Don’t give up at the first sign of struggle

As I have mentioned previously, there will be bumps along the way, but the sooner you uncover the resilience to continue moving forward, the sooner it will become second nature to do so. You have survived 100% of your worst days and there will be more difficult ones ahead, but your ability to make it to the other side is there. The same can be said about your resolutions and the days you might fall short. Don’t expect it to be easy and immediate, but do understand that the diligence you show to your goals and self-awareness will only help you in the long run.

Each of us has all the opportunity in the world to set and achieve our goals for the new year and I have no doubt that these pointers can help you either begin your plan of action or validate your existing course. Either way, these tips have helped me and have allowed me to remain consistent in my commitment and now that I have shared my resolution with each of you, I am sure it will become less and less easy to locate reasons to not follow through. I hope each of these tips helps you in achieving your goals for 2020 and beyond.

Written by

Writer. Poet. Philomath. Dog Mom. Traveler. Creator. Wanderer. Teacher. Empath. Author of “Unapologetically Human” - available on Amazon

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store