How To Make A New Year’s Resolution Stick

by MindJournal - 8 min read

How To Make A New Year’s Resolution Stick - MindJournal

"Sigh... here we go again."

For something that's supposed to usher in a 'brand-new you', New Year's Resolutions can feel a bit played out - right?

In fact, research suggests that up to 80% of people abandon these good intentions by February - just a month in.

But maybe we've just been getting them wrong all along.

New Year's Resolutions shouldn't feel like an intimidating task or, worse still, a self-inflicted punishment.

Instead, they're a golden opportunity to set off on the right foot. To start the year in style and make the most of the months ahead.

So forget everything you've heard before. This is the year to start giving yourself a break. Here's how to set a New Year's Resolution that'll stick.

Look back to charge forwards

Whether it's films, books or albums, we love a good end-of-year list. So why not start the following year by sizing up your last? Taking a moment to reflect on the past 12 months will give you the tools you need to set the right resolutions for you.

Start by reviewing the things that went well - big or small. Cast your mind back to your last set of resolutions. Maybe you got into the habit of finishing work at 5 pm and are still feeling the benefits. No matter what you achieved, take a moment to be proud of yourself, or even better, celebrate.

Then, look back at the things that didn't quite go to plan.

No matter what they are, that's OK.

Looking back on an unachieved resolution helps you find the gap between where you are and where you want to be. And that gives you a good idea of what you want to focus on in the future.

If you need help, try using the Pie of Life inside MindJournal. By scoring areas of your life, you'll get a quick overview of what is in (or out) of balance.

Want to give it a try? Download our free guidebook.


Turn unreasonable resolutions into realistic goals

Resolutions can fall by the wayside for many reasons. 

But you know what? There's just no doubt what the biggest culprit is. 

Resolutions that are vague and unfocused.

For example, a 2020 study found that the UK's most popular resolution was to "exercise more" (47%). Whilst in the US, 48% of Americans committed to "losing weight" in 2019.

What's the common thread between the two? It's simple. They aren't specific enough.

That's why we recommend the SMARTER framework for achieving goals. Here's how it works:

S - Specific

Get a crystal clear vision on what success will look like.

M - Measurable

Measurable goals can be tracked. What are the key milestones?

A - Achievable

Avoid burnout by working towards a goal that is challenging, but possible.

R - Relevant

Find your why. How does this goal support your overall life plan?

T - Time-bound

Set a deadline for achieving your goal to help you plan and stay motivated.

E - Evaluate

Don't wing it. Regularly check in on your progress to remain on track.

R - Re-adjust

Interested in learning more? We've gone into more detail about setting and achieving SMARTER goals here.

All sounds rational, right?

Well, this more prescriptive resolution approach is only one part of the formula. Achieving personal goals is just as much about following your feelings as it is about listening to your mind.

Let your emotions lead the way

Too often, our resolutions are grounded in some disappointment in ourselves. Maybe telling ourselves we're spending too much time at home and not socialising enough. When in reality, working from home five days a week makes this more challenging. If we were kinder to ourselves, we would recognise this and realise that a resolution with small, specific goals could help balance this out.

When they're emotionally intelligent, resolutions allow us to take back control of our lives.

In this example, taking time to understand how you are feeling will help you realise that your desire to spend less time at home may come from growing feelings of loneliness, isolation or social anxiety rather than anything negative you tell yourself.

Recognise this, and then let those emotions lead the way.

And instead of putting pressure on ourselves with what we feel we should do - "I should go to a co-working space". Focus on the why, "I'd like to go to a co-working space one day a week, as it will break up my working week, enable me to socialise more and make new friends, making me feel less lonely and more positive".

Let's change the narrative and be kind to ourselves, always.


Track your progress, and take it one step at a time

When it comes to a New Year's Resolution, we often wonder how long is long enough.

But this year, try something different. Rather than setting an arbitrary date way into the future, take your resolution and break it down into manageable milestones.

Instead of committing to a whole year of change, start tracking small, positive habits that will help you towards your larger goal. Research suggests it takes 18 - 254 days to form a new habit - so take it one step at a time.

Tracking a run of good habits is a great way to keep yourself motivated. After all, you're 42% more likely to achieve your goals when you write them down.

Not sure where to start? Alongside monthly, weekly and daily views, the Balance Planner includes a goal-setting and habit-tracking tool kit to help you achieve anything you put your mind to.

January can be a challenging time as it is. Remember, no one's applying the pressure but you, so give yourself a break.

Next Year You called, and they're feeling brighter already.


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