Post it notes on wall with New Year's resolutions written on them

4 Steps to Make a New Year’s Resolution That You’ll Actually Keep

By Haley Bass | 01/01/2018

New year, new me. This mantra spreads across the country as each new year begins and people set their New Year’s resolutions. While it’s admirable to start the year with a goal in mind, only 8% of resolution-setters achieve their goal.

The most common New Year’s resolutions – lose weight, eat healthier, exercise more, etc. – all center around better health. However, results from these resolutions don’t happen overnight, so people often get frustrated and give up after a month.

So how do you become part of the 8% that finds success every year? Here are four steps to make achievable, health-focused resolutions this year.

1. Set a specific goal.

Not just, “I want to lose weight,” but how much weight? When do you want to lose the weight by?

Not just, “I want to exercise more,” but how many days a week? Are you joining a gym, going to classes, or buying a video program?

Not just, “I want to eat healthier,” but how many vegetable servings are you planning to eat a day? Are you trying a juice cleanse, or just cutting out added sugars?

The more specific your goal is, the easier it is to measure your success. Try to use numbers whenever possible: I want to lose 20 pounds in six months; I want to go to the gym for one hour, four days a week; I want to reduce my Body Mass Index by 5%.

The best goals are SMART – specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely.

2. Track your progress.

Although you won’t reach your New Year’s resolution right off the bat, it’s encouraging and motivating to see the progress you make over time. Find simple ways to track progress you’re making toward your resolution.

If you want to lose weight, make sure to measure your waist, arms, thighs, or any “trouble” areas along with weighing yourself. Especially if you’re working out, you’ll often lose inches before pounds. If waiting for the scale to show success is dragging you down, focus on the decreasing inches and more comfortably fitting clothes that show you physical signs of success. If you know it’s working, you’ll keep going.

If you’re trying to work out more, focus on specific improvement areas. How many more push-ups can you do now versus last week? How much longer can you hold that plank? Have you cut a few seconds off your mile time? Even the smallest improvements can show you that your hard work is paying off.

If you’re trying to eat healthier, you should keep a food journal. As you slowly cut out processed foods in exchange for lean proteins, vegetables, and whole grains, your body should start feeling differently. Write about your energy levels, mood, focus, and even your confidence. When you feel like giving up, compare your first entries to your latest ones for proof that your healthy choices in the kitchen are improving your life.

Having specific progress trackers will motivate you to stick to the resolution, especially when it gets hard.

3. Get an accountability partner.

When you’re the only one who knows about your New Year’s resolution, it’s easier to give up. Having accountability from a friend, family member, or even an online support group will give you more reasons to stick to the plan. An accountability partner almost doubles your chances of success.

Give your accountability partner a specific job – check in on me twice a week, read my food journal, etc. It’s even better when your partner is chasing a similar goal and needs accountability themselves. You can go to the gym together, share healthy recipes, and motivate each other.

4. Quit the “all-or-nothing” mindset.

Eating a piece of cake or missing a workout doesn’t mean the whole week is blown. It’s ok to mess up a little bit – you aren’t perfect, and this isn’t easy. But when you use a slip up as an excuse to give up entirely, you’re only hurting yourself.

You also don’t have to “make up” for your mistakes. Skipping your workout one day doesn’t mean you need to do double the next day. Eating a piece of cake doesn’t mean you should skip a meal. If you’re always trying to catch up, the resolution will seem even more impossible. When you slip up, learn to forgive yourself and continue with your plan.

Whatever your goal is this New Year’s, follow these steps for a resolution that you’ll actually keep. Good luck and Happy New Year!