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How to Make New Year’s Resolutions That Stick

When the clock struck midnight on New Year’s, people around the world celebrated with fireworks, festivities – and a few promises to themselves and others that they were going to make some changes for the better.

The tradition of setting “new year, new you” goals is nothing new. Unfortunately, only about 9% of people in the United States keep their resolutions throughout the year, which is pretty much true no matter whether you set a goal or make a promise at any time of the year. 

So, what can you do to turn your resolutions into winners? If you want to stick to your goals, we have some simple tips that can help.

Where Did All This Business of New Year’s Resolutions Start?

The practice of making New Year’s resolutions goes back thousands of years to the Babylonians. The Babylonians celebrated their new year during the spring equinox, but they would also make promises to the gods in hopes of receiving their favor. Similarly, the Romans made sacrifices and pledges to the god Janus, for whom the month of January is named.

Over time, various cultures and religions incorporated the idea of self-improvement into their New Year celebrations. The tradition just gradually morphed away from making promises to a higher power to making promises that were simply personal. The concept of setting intentions for personal growth became deeply rooted in the collective human consciousness, evolving into the annual traditions we know today.

While the underlying principle of self-improvement remains, the scope and nature of resolutions have adapted to the changing dynamics of society. Modern resolutions encompass a wide range of goals, from health and fitness to career and personal relationships. 

So, what if you’re among the 23% of people who already abandoned their New Year’s resolutions a week ago? Start fresh. Make new ones. We’re here to help you – and the 43% of people who are struggling to keep their resolutions through the end of the month.

Are There Any Real Benefits to Making New Year’s Resolutions?

Regardless of when you choose to set goals, the mere act of doing so can have profound positive effects on your life. Here are some in-depth insights into the benefits of setting goals:

  • Renewed sense of purpose: Goals provide a sense of purpose and direction that can guide you toward a future that you want. The clarity of purpose that you can get from goal setting can help you make intentional choices that align with your aspirations.
  • Motivation and focus: Having clear goals makes for a powerful motivator. It gives you a good reason to take action and stay focused on your priorities. The more motivated you feel, the less likely you will be dissuaded from your goals by a few small challenges.
  • Personal growth: The pursuit of your goals, especially those that involve personal growth, may require you to step out of your comfort zone. This journey of self-discovery and improvement can lead to significant personal growth. As individuals overcome obstacles, they develop resilience and enhance their capabilities.
  • Increased confidence: There’s nothing like hitting a goal to boost your self-esteem. Reaching those milestones can help you realize that you have more resilience, strength and capacity to change than you ever knew. 

In short, it’s not the size of the goal that matters – it’s the fact that you have goals in the first place and keep actively working toward them. The increased awareness over the power you have to make positive changes can translate to more self-assurance and a greater sense of control over your life.

6 Tips for Making Resolutions You Can Actually Keep

To avoid struggling with your resolutions, you need to get to the root of the problem. You can start with learning how to set healthy goals in the first place. Here are some tips:

  1. Be realistic: You want to stretch yourself and grow a little – but don’t make your goals so lofty or ambitious that they’re not even realistic. Setting achievable goals ensures a sense of accomplishment and prevents the discouragement that may arise from unrealistic expectations. Don’t promise yourself that you’ll write a whole book by March if you struggle with time. Promise yourself the first chapter.
  2. Get specific: Instead of vague resolutions, define your goals with clarity. For example, rather than stating a broad intention like, “I will exercise more,” specify a measurable target such as, “I will exercise for 30 minutes three times a week.” Specificity enhances accountability and provides a better roadmap for success.
  3. Break it down: Large goals can be overwhelming, and that’s a sure route to abandonment. Instead, break down your goals into smaller, manageable tasks so you can celebrate incremental achievements. Having “mile markers” on your goals makes it easier to stay motivated. Instead of focusing on losing 30 pounds, focus on learning the first five pounds.
  4. Have a plan: A well-thought-out plan is essential for goal attainment. Outline the steps required to reach your objectives in writing. The process of creating a tangible outline for your goals can make them more “real” in your mind and help you stay the course.
  5. Reward your progress: Tracking achievements, no matter how small, reinforces your commitment and can motivate your continuous effort. Reward yourself at every milestone marker. If you work out every day for a week, for example, buy yourself a small treat, a new book or something else you want. 
  6. Adjust as needed: Life is dynamic, and your circumstances may change. Be flexible and willing to revise your goals as needed. Can’t save $1,000 a month for a downpayment on a house? Make it $500. You’re still moving forward to your goal. An adaptable approach increases the likelihood of long-term success. You aren’t giving up – you’re just re-evaluating.

The act of setting goals is a powerful tool for personal development, offering numerous benefits that extend beyond the turn of the calendar – so revisit those goals you’ve already made or, if they’ve already been abandoned, start anew. That’s the best way to make 2024 a year filled with positive change and personal growth.