How to Plan New Year's Resolutions

How to Plan New Year's Resolutions

Have you ever set a New Year’s resolution and given up on it? You’re not alone. In fact, approximately 80 percent of people who set these goals have dropped them by the second week of February [1].

Do you want to make 2021 the year you stick to your New Year’s resolutions? Remember, success starts with a great plan. Read on for some tips that will help with the resolution planning process. 



Find Meaning

If you struggle to follow through with your New Year’s resolutions, the problem might be that they aren’t particularly meaningful to you. 

Are you setting certain goals because you think you should and not because you actually want to achieve them? If so, you’re not exactly setting yourself up for success, are you?

new years resolution

Take some time to sit down and think about what you truly want to accomplish in 2021. What do you want to do and why do you want to do it? 



Be Specific

The more specific your resolutions are, the easier it’ll be to stick with them. 

If you set a vague goal like “exercise more,” you could have a hard time measuring your progress and succeeding throughout the year. Getting specific makes it easier for you to create a plan of action, too [3]. 

What does a specific resolution look like? It starts with making it measurable. 



Make it Measurable

You may have noticed when reading through the above section that the more specific goals were also measurable. 

Let’s say you want to have less screen time before bed, but don’t clarify how you’re going to measure the time spent screen-free, you might have a hard time staying motivated. And you may forget you even set a goal about not looking at your phone in bed altogether. 

When making a plan for your New Year’s resolutions, be sure to include a way to measure progress. 

This applies to all goals, not just the example above. For example, if your resolution is to focus on hydration and drink more water, you can make it more specific and measurable by saying you want to drink eight glasses of water per day.  



Be Realistic

If you never exercise, setting a resolution to exercise six days per week in 2020 might be a bit of a leap. 

When you’re making a plan for the new year, think about what’s realistic for you, your schedule, and your life. If you’re brand new to working out, for example, maybe you can set a goal to work out at home once or twice per week. 

This kind of goal will be easier to fit into your routine than suddenly ramping up to six workouts per week. You’ll be less likely to get burned out by the second week of February (or sooner), too.



Keep Your List Short

You might be tempted to overhaul every aspect of your life in the new year. This makes perfect sense, especially with all the resolution-related marketing messages that hit us from every angle starting in December (or earlier).

To avoid getting overwhelmed and increase your chances of sticking to your resolutions, keep your list short. Pick one or two things to focus on and improve. 

Remember, you can always add more goals to your list later on in the year. There’s no rule that says you can only set goals on January 1.



Expect Obstacles

Part of being a good New Year’s resolution planner is planning for obstacles. 

No matter how dedicated you are, you’re going to run into challenges at some point. If you don’t want to let these challenges throw off your progress, anticipate and prepare for them ahead of time. 

Let’s say you set a goal to exercise three times per week. The following are some potential obstacles that might stop you from starting your workout:

  • Sleeping through your alarm
  • Not having any clean gym clothes
  • Bad weather (if exercising outdoors) 
  • A last minute family need or emergency
  • Being too tired after work 

Think of everything that might stop you from crushing your workout. Then, figure out a solution that will help you overcome those obstacles. 

For example, maybe you can lay your gym clothes out the night before or pre-bookmark your at home workout so everything is ready to go when you wake up or wrap up at work.



Gather Supplies

Make sure you have everything you need to achieve your goals.

If your goal is to drink more water, having a reusable water bottle at the ready could be a great tool so you aren’t constantly running to the kitchen for a glass. Keep some hydration drink mixes (like Hydrant) on hand, too, so you can add flavor and beneficial electrolytes to your water on days when plain old H2O doesn’t cut it. 

drinking water

If your goal is to lose exercise three times per week, make sure you have a few different sets of workout clothes and a good pair of shoes. If you want to eat three servings of vegetables per day, make sure you stock your fridge or freezer every week so you always have something healthy at the ready.

When you’re writing down your New Year’s resolutions, make a list of supplies you might need. Write down everything that will help you to accomplish your goal and make a plan to shop for those things. That way, you’ll have all your supplies ready to go on January 1.



Seek Support

For some people, it’s easier to stick to New Year’s resolutions when they have support from someone else (or perhaps multiple people). This is especially true for people who are Obligers [5]. 

According to Gretchen Rubin, an author who writes about topics like happiness and habit change, Obligers are people who readily meet outer expectations but struggle to meet inner expectations. 

Basically, if someone else is expecting them to do something, they have no trouble doing it. They struggle, though, when they’re the ones setting the goal and no one else knows about it.

If this sounds like you, seeking support from someone else can help you stick to your goals. Join a club or support group, for example, or find a friend or family member who wants to achieve a similar goal. They can hold you accountable and help you stay motivated, even when obstacles pop up.  

Is your resolution this year to start your own business? Here are some great tools to leverage. 



Track Your Progress

You know by now that successful goal setting involves setting goals that are measurable. It’s not enough just to set a measurable goal, though. You also need to track your progress and monitor how well you’re doing when it comes to meeting your goal. 

There are lots of New Year’s resolutions apps that you can use to track your progress. You can also find apps specific to your particular goals, or list it out in a journal and manually track it.



Schedule Check-Ins

Another way to track your progress is to schedule regular check-ins throughout the year. These check-ins can happen monthly, quarterly, or at any other frequency that makes sense for you. 

calendar january

Write the dates for your check-ins down in your calendar so you remember to do them as the year goes on. You can also set alarms on your phone or schedule reminder emails that show up in your inbox on specific dates. 



Plan Some Rewards

Finally, don’t forget to plan some rewards for yourself. It’s much easier to stay motivated when you know you’re getting something exciting when you reach a specific milestone. 

After you drink eight glasses of water every day for a month, maybe you can reward yourself with a relaxing bubble bath. If you spend three months hitting your workout goal, maybe it’s purchasing a new set of workout clothes from your favorite store. 



Plan Your New Year’s Resolutions Today

As you can see, there’s a lot that goes into planning good New Year’s resolutions. Keep the tips listed above in mind so you can set yourself up for a successful, productive year in 2021!




[1] Haden, Jeff. A Study of 800 Million Activities Predicts Most New Year's Resolutions Will Be Abandoned on January 19: How to Create New Habits That Actually Stick.
[2] Cameron, Meaghan. 16 New Year’s Resolution Cartoons That Are Hilariously Spot On.
[3] Making New Year's Resolutions that Stick: Exploring how Superordinate and Subordinate Goals Motivate Goal Pursuit. Höchli, Brügger, & Messner - Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being - 2019
[4] Ballard, Jamie. Exercising more and saving money are the most popular 2020 New Year’s Resolutions.
[5] Rubin, Gretchen. Struggling to Get Something Done? Set Up Outer Accountability (Especially if You’re an Obliger!).

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