How to Set New Year’s Resolutions That Stick

Posted on: August 28, 2023

According to Psychology Today, 80% of New Year’s resolutions won’t make it through February. That’s a lot of pounds lost, miles walked, and money saved – that never happened.

You might think sticking to your resolutions has to do with the amount of willpower and self-control you have. But that’s not necessarily the case.

In fact, how you set your goals might be making it harder for you to achieve them.

In this blog post, you’ll learn about how to set smarter goals you can actually achieve, why it’s not all about willpower, and when you can look to Otterbein to help you achieve those goals this year. 

Two Otterbein residents exercise

Why Most New Year’s Resolutions Fail

Think back to the last time you made a New Year’s Resolution or any kind of goal requiring a significant life change.

It probably sounded something like this: Take more walks or eat healthier or save more money. Those are pretty common, and it’s likely how you’ve always set goals.

The problem is, there’s no way to make yourself stick to those goals. They’re essentially just thoughts floating around your head, no matter how well-meaning. And like any thought that happens to pass through, they don’t necessarily mean anything to you. 

Your brain likes to do things the easy way and take the path of least resistance. It’s not laziness; it’s instinct. That’s why change can be so difficult. Unless you make achieving your goal as easy as possible, your brain will resist or even forget.

So how can you outsmart biology and actually achieve something? It’s time to get SMART.

How to Set SMART Goals

Many businesses, schools, and highly-productive people know that setting just any goal won’t work. What does work better is a SMART goal, which stands for:

S: Specific

M: Measurable

A: Achievable

R: Relevant

T: Timely 

When you set out these kinds of details for your goal, you’re breathing some life into it and helping yourself understand how to achieve it. SMART goals can help you bridge the gap between an abstract thought and actually doing something. 

Let’s look at an example of how SMART goals work. Say your New Year’s Resolution, originally, was lose weight. A more detailed version following the framework above might look like this:

I will lose 10 pounds this year by taking a one-mile walk daily. This will help me look and feel healthier. 

This goal follows the SMART outline because it’s:

Specific: The exact amount of weight to lose is mentioned, as well as the method by which it will be achieved. 

Measurable: It’s a number that can easily be counted. 

Achievable: The amount of weight mentioned is a safe and healthy amount for this particular person to lose. 

Relevant: Don’t set goals that don’t matter. The person setting this goal wants to look and feel better – both things that are important to them.

Timely: The timeframe is given – the person has 12 months to achieve the goal. 

Set yourself up for success by changing the way you think about your goals. Write them down to make them more concrete in your mind as you follow the SMART framework. 

Learn about more ways to achieve better wellness with our guide >>


Other Ways to Help You Achieve a Goal

Of course, the SMART system for setting goals isn’t the end-all, be-all solution. There are other tips and tricks for sticking to your resolutions, most of them rooted in human psychology. If you can’t beat it, join it! 

  • Break it down. Achieving your big goal requires a series of mini-goals to get there. In the example above, a mini-goal might be to purchase a new pair of walking shoes to get yourself motivated to exercise. 
  • Hold yourself accountable. Tell other people about what you hope to achieve. When someone else knows, they can both help encourage you and also check in to be sure you’re making progress.
  • Don’t sweat it. If you aren’t making progress on your goal or just can’t seem to stick to it, don’t feel guilty. Instead, think of reasons why the goal wasn’t working (you were too tired; it was too cold outside; etc.) and come up with solutions. 
  • Reward yourself. Celebrate the progress you make, big and small, every step of the way. You’ll stay motivated and appreciate what you can do instead of what you can’t. 

Your Turn: What Are Your Goals for Next Year?

You’re probably thinking of your own life now and the changes you could make in the coming year.

What would you like to change? What do you want to improve? Maybe your wish list looks something like this:

  • I want to stop spending so much time on housework and yard maintenance. 
  • I want to spend more time pursuing a hobby or something I enjoy. 
  • I want to lead a healthier lifestyle. 
  • I want to make new friends and spend more time with other people. 
  • I want to make a plan for my future and take care of myself. 

The good news is, Otterbein helps people like you achieve these goals every day. 

Our six communities throughout Ohio and in Indiana offer maintenance-free living so you can enjoy what matters most to you. We focus on the nine degrees on wellness, so all our residents can experience complete health in mind and body. And we offer a continuum of care so you’ll feel confident that your health needs can always be met here.

Come See Us

You’re invited to visit one of our communities and experience what it’s like for yourself. There’s no pressure and no obligation; just a chance to learn more about our Methodist values, emphasis on complete wellness, and beautiful home options. 

Learn more about visiting us and schedule a visit (virtual or in-person) today. 

Schedule My Visit >>