10 Best New Year’s Resolution Success Strategies

Half of all Americans make resolutions each year – and, amazingly, a large percentage actually keeps them! So what’s the difference between the ones who succeed and those who don’t? It turns out that keeping a New Year’s resolution is a lot like making any other commitment for positive change: You have to be specific, the goals have to be realistic, and you can’t do it alone. One other finding in a recent study of resolutions is that people who commit to making positive change in January actually have better odds of keeping to it than those who start at any other time of year. So go ahead and make those New Year’s resolutions. Here are 10 tips to help them stick.

  1. Limit your number of resolutions. You can’t do it all, and if you try, you might not do what’s really important. Try making just one resolution this year.
  2. Keep your goal attainable. Be realistic, and you can succeed in doing just about anything. Try something like “I’ll go to the gym 3 times a week” instead of 7 days a week.
  3. If you can’t measure it, it’s not a good resolution. Use numbers. Use dates. Set goals with concrete successes or failures. A weak resolution looks like this: “I will read more.” More than what? Set a goal of one new book a month for 12 months, and you’ve really got something.
  4. Build your confidence. Those who establish confidence in themselves that they can achieve their goal have dramatically better odds of doing it. In my seminars, I tell people to use positive language about themselves to change their paradigm from can’t-do to can-do – and one of the most important parts of this exercise is to list your past successes. You’ve succeeded before, and you can do it again. Believe it.
  5. Find a Resolution Buddy. You don’t have to share the same resolution, but you both need to help keep each other honest. Make a date on your calendars to call each other in the middle of January for a resolution check-up (75 percent of people are successful for a week – but by 6 months, only 46 percent are still on track).
  6. Pay a professional. Whether it’s a nutritionist, a personal trainer, or a spiritual counselor, there’s something about paying hard cash that helps us hold ourselves accountable. And, the professional is there to hold you accountable too. You wouldn’t want to waste money and disappoint someone, would you? Gym memberships are easy to forget or ignore, but an individual who expects you to show up for weekly appointment isn’t.
  7. Make a Family Resolution. You can’t change in a bubble – you need the support of your family, and they need your support too. Try making one resolution as a family to commit to a healthy diet (and be sure to make your resolution measurable – like limiting dinners to 500 calories, or cutting out soda for a year.
  8. Get in touch with your deepest motivation for change. Your motivation is the specific reason why you’re making a change, like dancing at your daughter’s wedding, or watching your grandchildren grow up. Keep a reminder of your reason visible – like taping a photo to your refrigerator.
  9. One slip doesn’t make a fall. Those who ultimately succeed in their New Year’s resolutions aren’t perfect. They slip up once in a while. The difference between success and failure is whether you let that one slip throw you off course permanently. Get right back on track and commit to doing better next time.

Bring God into it. When you bring God into your commitment, you can use His strength to help you keep it.