Whenever a new year ticks over, many people around the world decide it’s a good time for a fresh start, usually by making New Year’s resolutions. However, some figures suggest more than half of all resolutions fail. Here, we look at ways you can make lasting changes to reach your goals. As well as looking at some New Year’s resolution ideas, we’ll look at why people fail with them, how you can make yours, and how to stick to them. Get ready to put your best foot forward. 

To many, there is a certain appeal about making a change at the start of the new year. New beginnings often signal a time for a fresh start – a chance to put past mistakes behind and look to the future. Having an entire year ahead can feel like a blank slate, full of opportunity and potential.

People also feel a sense of control when they plan sweeping changes for the new year. There is also an element of tradition. As we’ll see, people have been setting New Year’s resolutions for many generations, so there is a certain cultural element for some people. However, all of these factors mean that there is often a lot of pressure on people to make these changes, which can be one of the reasons why there’s such a high failure rate.

Finding the best New Year’s resolution is, of course, an entirely subjective process. What works for you may not work for others, and viceversa. Determining what success looks like for you is a useful place to start.

New Year's Resolutions

Pick One Measurable Goal

Setting a new goal is fantastic. However, switching up your routine or following a new path can be very stressful. So, the first thing you need to do is just take a deep breath and relax. Next, choose only one measurable goal or New Year’s resolutions. Making too many changes at once can be overwhelming, and chances are you won’t succeed if you juggle too many new commitments at once.

For the best chance at hitting the mark, avoid making ambiguous goals—always make them specific and measurable instead. For example, if you want to lose weight and start saving more money, only focus on one of these challenges for now. Then, set a specific, realistic target. These resolutions set reasonable, measurable goals—which makes them more achievable as opposed to plotting an unrealistic course to an unattainable end. Once you’ve succeeded with one goal, then commit to reaching the next one.

Change Doesn’t Happen Overnight

The current, fast-paced technological world thrives on instant gratification. You send text messages and receive replies in seconds. You download and instantly listen to a new album instead of going to the store, grabbing a CD off the shelf, walking it to the car, and loading it up. Unfortunately, constantly feeding this craving for on-demand results can sabotage an effort to stick with your New Year’s resolutions.

Most goals take time to achieve. The bottom line: Pace yourself. If you aim for instant results in whatever goal you make, you’re going to set yourself up for disappointment if you fall short. What’s worse? You may even abandon your plan altogether if you don’t see an immediate transformation.

Track Your Progress

This step coincides with setting and achieving mini-goals. There’s something satisfying about keeping a record of your progress. Furthermore, the more frequent the monitoring, the greater the chance of success. Whether you keep a log of workout times, record weekly weight loss, or keep a budget journal, tracking your progress—either with pen and paper or punching pertinent information into an Excel spreadsheet or fitness app—ensures you see your accomplishments add up over time. Also, always remember that your journey is a marathon and not a sprint.

Expect Plateaus and Even Some Lows

It’s easy to compare the quest to reaching your goal to playing a game of Scacchi. You happily advance your token along the board with the finish line in clear sight. However, you’ll inevitably hit some chutes or go back a few spaces that hinder your journey along the way. In life, any number of challenges or difficulties can impede your progress—and you could simply have a rough day or week. Hitting a weight loss plateau or dipping into your savings for an unexpected car repair might set you back for a bit on your resolution path, but it doesn’t mean you’re going to “fail.”

Seek Support and Encouragement

Finally, telling others about your New Year’s Resolutions keeps you accountable and can help you stick to your plan. If you’re feeling down or discouraged, seek support and welcome encouragement from family and friends. Letting others cheer you on will boost your confidence and help you keep your eyes on the prize until you enjoy success.