How To Make New Year Resolutions – And Keep Them

January 2, 2014

If you are like almost half of the population, you will be thinking of making New Year resolutions. The sad fact is that most people don’t achieve their resolutions, but with a bit of planning you can be one of few smug few who can make your resolutions a reality.

A study by Richard Wiseman from the University of Bristol in 2007 showed that 88% of those who set New Year resolutions fail. Another study by the University of Scranton showed that it has a lot to do with age. 39% of people in their twenties achieved their resolution each year while this dropped to 14% for people inTo achieve New Year resolutions you need to understand a bit about how your mind works and how to remove obstacles to success.

In his New Year resolution book A Course in Happiness, Frank Ra maintains that “resolutions are more sustainable when shared, both in terms of with whom you share the benefits of your resolution, and with whom you share the path of maintaining your resolution. Peer-support makes a difference in success rate with New Year’s resolutions”.

Chris Noone, co-founder of, supports the view that sharing your goals with others improves the chance of success. After a few unsuccessful solo attempts he and a few friends promised each other that they would lose weight and enter competitive sporting events. Importantly they also told all of their friends.

“Because we publicly declared our commitment we had the support of friends and family, plus a bit of peer pressure from the rest of the group. We were all able to achieve results that we had only dreamed of previously”.

James Brodie, a strength and conditioning Coach for the Manly Marlins Rugby Union Club and owner of J-Train Athletic Performance, works one-on-one with his clients to achieve their fitness goals.

“The ones who really succeed are those who make public pacts and get ongoing encouragement from their friends and family. This holds them accountable and puts the responsibility on them to work harder to achieve these goals”, said James.

Here are some more tips to help you achieve success in 2014.

Start Small
A big goal sounds impressive, but is hard to achieve. Start by setting small goals so you begin to understand how you can best achieve results. Once you have a few successes under your belt and understand your potential, take a step up to a bigger goal.

Reward Yourself
We all need help to maintain our motivation. Set your goals so that you can celebrate the small achievements along the way. Short sprints are much more effective and enjoyable than a long, slow slog.

Recruit Supporters
Share your success with friends and family so they can congratulate you along the way. Don’t be afraid to let them know if you slip up too! You’ll find that encouragement from others can be really motivating. At the very least, the risk of public failure will make improve your dedication.  Set up a blog to share your progress or use Facebook or Twitter. Websites like PromiseLocker and apps such as Lift  and Everest make it easy to record, track and share your commitments.

Plan for Setbacks
Nobody is perfect. Life has a habit of getting in the way of New Year resolutions. Accept this as normal and don’t aim for perfection all of the time. Think in advance what setbacks you may encounter and how you can mitigate them.

Check Your Progress
Measuring, recording and sharing your progress are all positive steps that will support your achievement. If your progress has been good, it provides positive reinforcement to keep going. If you have fallen behind, take some time to reflect on why and what you can do to improve.

Remove Temptation
Think ahead about things that may tempt you to stray from your path and try to get them out of your life, at least for a while. This could include staying away from people who reinforce your bad habits, removing sugary foods from the cupboard or avoiding certain activities.

Make it Real
Your New Year’s Resolutions should be based on actions that are obvious. Vowing to get fit or lose weight are quite vague, instead try to commit to walking to work twice per week or not drinking sugary drinks.

Manage Your Willpower
You can’t do everything all at once. According to Roy Baumeister from Florida State University your willpower is a finite resource, so ration it for the goals that count and let some other things go. Recent research shows that willpower can be increased with positive attitude. Perhaps achieving some small goals will help you to improve your willpower.

Are you making any resolutions in 2014?

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