How to Make New Year’s Resolutions You’ll Actually Keep

Practical advice for setting realistic, achievable goals so you can be your best self in 2018.

When it comes to New Year’s resolutions, people either love them or hate them. I love them—even if I’m not always successful at keeping them. However, I do find consistent success in keeping resolutions that are realistic, specific, and progress-oriented. I’ve even managed to read upwards of 50 books every year for the last five years because of these resolution techniques!

If the only resolution you’ve managed to keep is to never make resolutions again, or the whole idea seems pointless or just a reminder of what you didn’t do this year, why not resolve to try again with these eight tips for making (and keeping) successful New Year’s resolutions?

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1. Be SMART about your goals.

That is, make resolutions that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound (SMART). Want to read more? Decide on the number of books—and even a specific genre you want to be more well-read in—based on the previous year’s reading habits. If you’ve only read one book in the last year, it’s okay to start small. Even completing two books is a step in the right direction.


2. Don’t go it alone.

Knock out two resolutions in one by making more time for friends while achieving another goal. Schedule gym sessions or cooking classes or a book club together. Not only will you be less likely to bail on your friend, but she’ll help keep you accountable if you start slipping (and vice versa). You can even expand your support network by sharing your goals on social media. Not only is this another great way to make yourself accountable, but you’ll have dozens of people cheering your progress along the way.


3. Embrace technology.

Whatever your resolve in 2018, there’s an app for that. Run that 5K with Couch to 5K, read more by setting a reading challenge on Goodreads, or finally start meditating with Headspace. Apps not only track your progress, but they’re another source of support—and even a healthy dose of competition. I don’t know about you, but seeing a friend outstep me consistently on Fitbit sure gets me moving!


4. Forgive yourself when you fail—and get back at it.

At some point on your resolution journey, you’re going to slip up. You’ll eat the cookie, spend the money, or skip the gym. In the past, you might have used that as an excuse to get lazy or give up. This year, embrace imperfection, forgive your slip-ups, and get back on the horse. Resolutions aren’t about perfection—they’re about being better than before.


5. Revise as necessary.

Adjusting your goals does NOT equal failure. Remember to be SMART about your resolutions so you start off with realistic goals, but if you find you’ve set something too far out of reach, go ahead and adjust. And if you’re meeting your goals faster than you anticipated? Move the finish line a little further out to keep the challenge going. You’ll be proud of yourself by year’s end either way.


6. Schedule it!

Like you would a doctor’s appointment or an important meeting, carve out time to work towards your resolutions by putting them on your calendar. Blocking off time at the gym, for shopping and meal prep, or even crafting, makes you a priority. Self-care is important. Don’t sacrifice yourself at the expense of pleasing others.


7. Celebrate your victories.

You don’t have to wait until the ball drops at midnight on December 31, 2018—start celebrating your victories now. Treat yourself to something you’ll enjoy that’s relevant to your journey, and that isn’t counterproductive to meeting your goal (i.e., no celebratory donuts for a week of healthy eating!).


8. Know your “why.”

When it comes to keeping resolutions, knowing your intention is half the battle. Arbitrarily deciding to save more money or to hit the gym more won’t amount to anything unless you have a reason—like being able to afford a dream trip to Europe, or to have more energy to play with your kids. With a specific “why” at the front of your mind, you’ll be motivated to continue even when the going gets tough. You can even write down your intention and stick it somewhere you’ll see it every morning—a surefire way of starting your day on the right foot.



Photo Credit: Raw Pixel/Shutterstock


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