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Simple Steps to Keeping New Year’s Resolutions

Young woman with fingers crossed at homeA study from the University of Scranton Journal of Clinical Psychology shows that 92% of people do not keep their New Year’s resolutions. That means that only 8% of people who make resolutions actually keep them—only 8%! And of that 8%, only 46% of people keep their resolutions for longer than six months.

Clearly, many of us have great intentions but significant trouble following through to making our desires a reality. What can you do to put yourself in the 8% of people who achieve their goals and resolutions? How do you keep those resolutions that you set only a few weeks ago? It is very doable, and the process is simple.

First, we need to remove the pressure of the New Year. The New Year does not have to be the impetus of change. It can simply be the beginning of a new year. Each morning brings us a chance at newness, renewal, and change. Do not hold yourself prisoner to the New Year of the calendar. This happens to be the time that you decided to make a change. But remember that you can make changes at any time!

Second, consider why you made your resolutions. Was it because everyone else around you was making these declarations? Were you motivated by the media telling you that it is time for a change? Or was it something inside yourself that spurred you to declare this change for yourself?

Knowing your motivation is a useful step in staying on track with your resolutions. Changing for yourself or because of your own desire to do so significantly increases the chances that you will actually make that change. Now that we are several weeks into the New Year, it is time to review the goals that you set.

Within the next few weeks, if it hasn’t already happened, people will start missing workouts, cheating on diets, and otherwise neglecting the plan of change that they set for themselves. In order to prevent and intervene with these stumbling blocks consider if the goals of change that you set are R.E.A.L. (Colette, 1996).

Setting Realistic, Easy-to-measure, Achievable, and Logical goals are critical to your success. Consider your goals and resolutions for 2014 and ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is this goal realistic and specific enough for me to achieve?
  • How can I measure this goal to see if I’m making progress?
  • Is my goal personal and achievable?
  • Is my goal logical? Does it make sense for me and my current life circumstances?

If you answered “no” to any of these questions then it is time to revise your goals. Setting unrealistic goals is setting yourself up for failure. Not only are you unsuccessful at achieving your goals, but you negatively affect your self-esteem and self-confidence. You fail at achieving your goals and then feel like a failure in life.

Take some time to rewrite your New Year’s resolutions using the aforementioned questions as a guide. Write your goals in a manner until you are able to answer “yes” to each question.

The final step in this process is to review your goals with someone else. Have them read your goals and verify that they are R.E.A.L. Another perspective helps to clarify your goals, provides you support, and holds you accountable to your own goals because someone else knows about the changes you are trying to make.

Using these simple principles you will meet your New Year’s resolutions, increase your self-confidence, and proudly join the 8% of people who actually keep their New Year’s resolutions!


  1. Author unknown. (2014). University of Scranton. Journal of Clinical Psychology
  2. Colette, M., Woliver, B., Bingman, M., Merrifield, J (1996). Getting there: A curriculum for people moving into employment. The Center for Literacy Studies. Knoxville, TN.

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  • Irina

    January 14th, 2014 at 10:56 AM

    I always start a little before the new year, and give myself a little time to make a few adjustments and changes before the new year actually starts.
    This gives me a little bit of time to determine what is actually going to work for me and how I can make this goal something that is more attainable and more workable into my everyday life.
    I don’t want to have to go all hard core all in, but I know that there will be changes that will have to be made daily to make this habitual, so that’s why I always feel like if I start a little earlier then maybe it is something that I can stick to once the new year actually starts.

  • susie

    January 15th, 2014 at 3:53 AM

    As long as I can keep myself accountable to someone else then I am doing fine. Whether this is a walking buddy or someone to grocery shop with me, this person always supports me with my goal and kind of keeps me on task even when I don’t want to be.

  • Tonya Ladipo

    January 16th, 2014 at 8:46 AM

    Starting early and small are great tips! What else works for people? How do you stick to your New Year’s Resolutions?

  • shanna

    January 16th, 2014 at 6:24 PM

    How about resolving to…. MAKE NO MORE NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS? Nah, I would like to say I don’t do it anymore but year after year, here I am with the same old tired resolutions- get organized, lose some weight, exercise more, yadayadayada. I guess I am just a failure otherwise I would have accomplished all of these things ten times over by now as many times as they have been on my list. Oh well I guess now they will simply have to be moved to the bucket list, things to do before I die because I am tired of failing year after year.

  • dove

    January 17th, 2014 at 3:49 PM

    I started journaling as a way of holding myself accountable for my own actions. I could lie about what I ate and what kind of activity I did when I just would mentally recite it back at the end of the day. But as I made it a point to always write everything down, well there is no denying that. This has helped me out a good bit, I won’t say that it is the answer that will help everyone but it has been a little push in the right direction for me that has worked for a while now. And no I didn’t wait until January 1 to start, I started sometime last mid summer.

  • paige

    January 22nd, 2014 at 3:52 AM

    you won’t believe how much the numbers at the gym have already fallen off, and this is only the 3rd week of January!

  • Zach

    January 24th, 2014 at 12:10 PM

    You have to choose something that is meaningful to you and something that can meaningful to you in the long run, not just a temporary fix, but a goal that will make a difference to you or your family for many years to come. Also making yourself accountable to someone else, even just to report to them your activities for the day or whatever, makes you even more aware of what you are doing and that there is someone else who is just as invested in seeing you succeed as you are.

  • donna b

    January 27th, 2014 at 3:53 AM

    I like that we are encouraged to set resolutions for ourselves that are actually attainable. I know that in the past I have set goals that are in essence very unrealistic for my current life circumstances and then I would beat myself up when I found that I was unable to achieve them. I didn’t see that I have set myself up for failure more times than I would care to mention. And that I, and probably many others, would be far more successful if we would actually create resolutions to change things that are actually within our power and control to do something about! Staying realistic should probably be one of my resolutions…

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