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How to Set New Year’s Resolutions You Can Actually KEEP!

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Have you noticed this? I think as soon as the last Christmas gift is opened, life becomes focused on the New Year and all that comes with it – including resolutions – but what about making some resolutions that you can actually achieve? And while it isn’t Christmas yet, I think now is the time you should be putting the finishing touches on creating your New Year’s Resolutions…as long as they are realistic ones.

I love new beginnings, a blank slate, having a do-over of sorts, and January 1st offers all of this in one small package.

I’m pretty sure it isn’t just me who thinks this as there are more people who set goals, or resolutions, at this time of the year more than any other. However, I think so many of us walk into making these resolutions without much guidance on exactly what this means and how to do it…or do it well.

Pssst! Grab our New Years’s Resolutions Tracker so you can track your progress is a more realistic way. Just tell us where to send it!

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So often, you and I make these New Year’s resolutions doomed for failure because we haven’t done some fairly simple things beforehand. Then, we spend the latter half of the month of January kicking ourselves because we have fallen short yet again.

Then when the following December 31st rolls around, we are filled with such great hope in trying it again. Yet, we are destined to yield the same results if we haven’t gotten any better at actually creating the resolutions.

With this in mind, I’ve come up with 11 surefire things to do before setting your New Year’s resolutions that will help you actually achieve the resolutions you put in place.

Here’s how you can set realistic New Year’s Resolutions that you don’t end up failing at.

new years resolutions

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1. Change how you think about New Year’s Resolutions

When  you and I think about setting New Year’s resolutions, we so easily see these resolutions as the be all and end all. The very word “resolution” just has such a weighty feel to it. Then you add that to the frenzy of the new year and you’ve got something that feels unattainable nearly right away. Rather than setting resolutions, why not just set some goals? Think of your resolutions as just plain ol’ goals, and you will feel less pressure, at least if you are anything like me.

I can even help with your goals. Check out Do Your Goals Spell Success, Anatomy of a Goal, Creating Goals That Stick and 10 Reasons You Might Not Be Accomplishing Your Goals.

2. Next, define your purpose (create a mission statement)

If you are going through the bother of setting these resolutions in the first place, it will serve you well to know your why behind them. What are you hoping to accomplish? Where do you want to be when these resolutions or goals are complete?  How will your life be enriched because of completing them? Answering these questions will define your purpose.

Check out how to write a mission statement HERE. It will greatly help you.

writing goals

3. When setting these goals, be realistic

As a perfectionist myself, I know this can be hard to do. So often you and I can have a vision of who we want to be, of how we want to improve, and of where we see ourselves down the line. However, it is so easy to set our sights on a version of ourselves that is too far removed from who we are now. It is silly to think that we can go from getting no exercise to running a marathon in a couple of months. This example is extreme, I realize, but it illustrates the point I want to make. A much more realistic resolution would be to run a 5k in a couple of months. Do you see how much better that feels now? It feels attainable.

4. Set specific New Year’s Resolutions

This idea greatly refers to setting goals that have an end. The goals you create have an end destination, an end time frame, and an end purpose all built in. Simply saying, “I want to start exercising” is not specific. Not at all. Your resolutions or goals need to be clearly defined with specific actionable steps that tell you where you are going and how you are getting there.

5. Start small with your resolutions

This idea is similar to being specific. I don’t know about you, but I tend to shoot for the moon. However, this rarely turns out well, if ever. Rather than setting a huge goal, start with a few smaller goals that will give you the confidence you need to keep moving forward as you accomplish a few goals early on. Start small in the resolutions you choose.

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6. Put your New Year’s Resolutions in writing

Goals left in your head stay in your head. Writing your goals down not only provides a sense of organization, it also provides a sense of accountability. You’ve taken ownership and made a commitment that is just a bit larger when you’ve taken the time to write them down.

7. Keep it simple

This concept applies to so many different things, and setting resolutions is no exception. Making an entire brainstorming map of goals makes them overwhelming. I like being thorough and paying attention to the details, but this is detrimental to me when I set goals that make me want to turn and run from them since they look so scary on paper. Simple, streamlined, and rather basic goals are the easiest to follow through with.

new years resolutions ideas

8. Know your personality

This means taking into account who you are right now. Oftentimes our resolutions are very much intertwined with who we want to be. But, we must take into account who we actually are as we get started. The goals that someone you admire has set often can’t be the same as the goals you set for yourself. Your goals must take into account your personality.

This is true even if you are trying to make some changes to your personality. In order to have an accurate roadmap that will take you from where you are now to where you want to end up, this roadmap needs to start in the right place. This means starting with your personality right now.

9. Look into the future

How will your life be changing this year? Are there big things on the horizon? Or, are you having a baby? Are you starting a new job? Will your husband be traveling more? Take these things that are on the horizon into account when setting these resolutions or goals.

Try reading What’s Your Season for more on this.

10. Be ready to work hard

This is something that I so often overlook. It is as though I set these resolutions and expect the result to just drop in my lap. It sounds silly, but remembering that making changes, learning new things, and forming new habits means that I will have to work hard and to make a commitment to the goals I have set.

11. Expect two steps forward and one step back

I think we can agree that this always comes with change, doesn’t it? Rare is the person who can take on something new and get it right the first time. Setting out to accomplish goals involves learning, and with learning comes making mistakes. Mistakes are some of the best ways to learn. But, knowing that we will take some backwards steps in the process can keep you and I from feeling as though we should beat ourselves up when they occur.

Being aware of the backsliding and following up with giving ourselves grace in these backward steps will help us to move forward and try again.

new years resolutions


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