5 Tips for Keeping New Year’s Resolutions

resolutionsEvery 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). In fact, according to most data (read this: I can’t remember where I got this data):

  • … 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–Zilch–achieved theirs (well, I did). The reasons were varied and left me wondering why create resolutions that are so quickly brushed 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 anecdotal data):

  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 Dunkin’ Donuts.

At the end of 2021, 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 December 2021, 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, the Man vs. Nature saga, and the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, blog webmaster, an Amazon Vine Voice,  a columnist for NEA Today, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. Look for her next prehistoric fiction, Laws of Nature, Summer 2021.

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

  1. Love this post, Jacqui! So funny. Especially the “delegate” your resolutions. Or, the cheating about including stuff you already did or committed to. This is like making a to-do list of things you already did or know that will surely happen. The best way to reach success! So true about the easy examples you gave.

    With to-do lists, I usually go overboard, but with my “goal” lists, I try to keep it manageable and achievable. I did pretty well for 2020, but for 2021, I think I’ll delegate them. Any takers?

    Liked by 1 person

    • You see the wisdom in that, right? I was a manager once and we did a lot of that!

      I think getting your first book out was monumental. It’s not just the work. It’s climbing past “I can’t do it” “I have never done this before”. High kudos, Liesbet!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Although I’ve heard that if you share the resolution you’re more likely to keep on trying to achieve it, for me, I have found I’m more likely to keep on pushing myself if I keep it to myself until I reach to goal I’m shooting for. I wonder why this is.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Jacqui thanks for the laugh and the great suggestions. Something that has been helping me with goals is to make them really small habits instead of big measured goals. Building on one habit at a time feels slow in the beginning but has taken off over time.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I checked out the resolutions people make every year for curiosity. There was only one resolution my husband and I made together at the end of 2016 after he retired, that was going to the gym together 3 times a week. We kept that religiously until Covid started in March 2020. It was easy to keep because he wanted to do something with me every day.

    I also go the the gym by myself for swimming, something I’ve been doing for 40 years.

    Well, I don’t have bad habits to break. I don’t need to build new habits. So just never see a point to wait for the new year to change anything.

    Your tips are funny and I liked them, Jacqui!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Haha! That was entertaining, Jacqui. I especially like “include stuff you’ve already done.” Can I take credit for something I did back in 1965? Well, since it’s my resolution, why not?


  6. Sharing… Setting a few simple short-term goals to start the year. Completed a few today–packed away Christmas decorations, addressed envelopes for catch up notes to friends, helped hubby do some cleaning upstairs (a place I try to avoid unless company is coming). That’s a start…

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Thank you for sharing!.. I do not make resolutions, I let my heart lead and follow my dreams, rarely go wrong… 🙂

    Until we meet again..
    May flowers always line your path
    and sunshine light your way,
    May songbirds serenade your
    every step along the way,
    May a rainbow run beside you
    in a sky that’s always blue,
    And may happiness fill your heart
    each day your whole life through.
    May the sun shine all day long
    Everything go right, nothing go wrong
    May those you love bring love back to you
    And may all the wishes you wish come true
    (Irish Saying)

    Liked by 1 person

      • I know. That’s very true. But for a while, at least, I don’t want to be hounded by unfulfilled promises to myself “to get more organized,” etc. You’re right about one thing though, and that’s to be specific. I made myself clean out one kitchen drawer and that made me happy. Another day I did one more drawer. Great. After a few days, I had them all done and it didn’t feel like a chore. I also cleaned out just a few files in my filing cabinet, rather than trying to do the whole thing and feeling defeated. I feel like the tortoise, hopefully winning the race, one slow step at a time.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. As much as I like to plan, and as much as I enjoy resetting my expectations for a new year, those small, doable goals, as you describe escape me, too, Jacqui. I’m externally motivated: my fitbit nags me into 10K steps a day (well, it tries), kindle and Duolingo keep track of my streaks (408 days with Duo so far), and Goodreads provides a book reading goal, etc. Those work for me. I love reading your no-nonsense approach to resolutions 😄 Now if I could hire someone to get 10k steps for me…

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Resolutions rarely work because they are based on a whim not real intention. The resistance to change can be in the way of what you want. In my non-fiction self-help book, “Do You Have a Dream 5 Keys to Realize Your Dream” I address the resistance of change by asking questions like do you feel worthy or safe or permitted to have the change you want? Then there are ways to release what is in the way to receive your intention. To change takes conscious effort and an intention. It does not have to be hard. It can be easy, pleasurable, safe and fun. However, it has to be for the highest good. http://www.modernmysticmedia.com

    Liked by 3 people

  10. Hi Jacqui – ‘centuries’ ago I used to make resolutions … they lasted til the next day … and certainly never made it to be recorded. I just hope I can get on with some of last year’s ‘to do things’!! All well though … well done to you though. All the best – Hilary

    Liked by 2 people

  11. “They’re as useless as those suggestions for using leftover wine to make ice cubes. Who ever has leftover wine?” You are so funny, Jacqui. Maybe people who fail at making resolutions think of the list as “I have to” rather than “I want to” and then it feels like too much work. I’m not one to make resolutions, but I do set goals with deadlines. Maybe it’s in my genetic makeup, but once I set a goal, I just do it.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. What a fun read, Jacqui, I love your 5 tips!! This year, I didn’t set any firm goals. I guess that’s a cop-out, but by not setting goals, at least I’m freed of one stressor. 😂

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Pingback: Resolutions and goals

  14. I set goals which are more specific (I think) than resolutions and I make them SMART goals. I usually don’t do too badly. I think the problem with resolutions is that a year is a very long time. It is much easier to have goals with shorter deadlines.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. These tips are great! I think I´ll hire someone to do more exercise for me!! I do believe that goals need to be specific. When I said, I need to read more books I didn´t, but when I said I want to read 36 books, I read 40. But then goals are different than resolutions. Maybe we can just all resolve to be more kind. xo

    Liked by 3 people

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