How to keep a new year’s resolution

What makes the difference? Why do some people achieve their new year's resolutions while you can not keep it? Maybe, they don't either, but that's another story. To get forward on your resolution let's start with the simple things.

What’s your new year’s resolution for 2021? Almost anybody has one, but how many are kept? Do you even remember you new year’s resolution from 2020? Let’s make 2021 different. Let’s make it the year to keep resolutions.

What makes the difference? Why do some people achieve their new year’s resolutions while you can not keep it? Maybe, they don’t either, but that’s another story.

To get forward on your resolution let’s start with the simple things.

Get the basic of setting a new year’s resolution right

Set the right resolution

When you define your resolution, make sure that it fits to your long term goals. You should not waste time and energy on resolutions you chose only to please others. “Every does it” is not a good reason for change. Choosing a new year’s resolution that support your goals will increase your chances of success. It will be more relevant to you. It will help you to progress in life. Thus, you will be more motivated to keep it. You will also see quick returns and positive effects. Keeping your resolution will bring you a direct benefit. This is a much stronger motivator than just having kept the resolution.

Write your new year’s resolution down.

It is as simple as that. This is a tiny step. But it is the start to set you up for success. Writing a goal down shows yourself you are committed to it. It also gives you clarity of what you really want.

Dare to be precise. Write it as a full sentence: “In 2021, I, [your name here] will …” or “In 2021 I, I [your name here] will not…” Then read the sentence out loud ten times.

Does this feel good? Great. You have just used the power of self-affirmation to increase your chances of success.

Does it feel wrong? Maybe you need to refine your new year’s resolution to fit to your true goals.

What’s next?

Choosing the right resolutions and writing your goals down is one thing. Acting on them is another. So how do we continue?

As indicated above there are typically two types of resolutions. Building a good habit and stopping a bad habit.

How to keep a good habit from a new year’s resolution?

Put your resolution first

There’s a saying: “You always have time for the things you put first”. And it is very true. If you can fulfill your resolution first thing in the morning: do it! That is maybe even before breakfast and definitely before you check your phone and inboxes. If necessary, get up half an hour earlier. Morning times, when you are still undistracted are the best time to start a new habit because your volition and will power are still high. You also reduce the risk of unexpected events to get into your way. Make sure to keep streaks alive.

Place reminders

You should remind yourself of your resolution in regular intervals. So put a note into your follow up system to check your progress and readjust if needed. Make a quarterly, monthly or weekly reminder depending on the nature of your resolution.

Follow the principles of behavior change

There are just four principles of sucessesful behavior change:

  1. make it obvious
  2. make it attractive
  3. make it easy
  4. make it satisfying.

If you get them right, your chances are high to succeed in keeping your resolution of building a good new habit. I do not want to go into details on this because there are great books about it like James Clear’s Atomic Habits. You can also find great summaries of it via Google.

How to stop a bad habit based on a new year’s resolutions

Follow the reversed principles of behavior change.

If you want to stop a bad habit you need to revers the principles above to make it possible:

  1. make it hidden
  2. make it unattractive
  3. make it difficult
  4. make it unsatisfying.

Again, I do not want to go into detail here on all those. But there are several tricks to contribute to these principles. I might cover this in a future article.

Build a replacement habit.

If you do want to stop a bad behavior, building a replacement habit can support you tremendously. It is much easier to build a new habit than to stop an established one. Thus, building a replacement habit can be a shortcut to actually stop what you do not want to do.

Dare to get back on track if you slip

It is normal that our resolutions do not get the full attention throughout the year. Motivation is high in the beginning of the year. It won’t stay like that on every single day. Thus, reminders for our goals and resolutions are so important. Schedule a reminder to review your resolutions in March, June and September. What have you achieved? What could be better? What could be left out? Celebrate your success or get back on track. But also dare to do a fresh start in the middle of the year. There is no law that defines resolutions can only be set on the First of January.