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January 19, 2016

New Year’s Resolutions That Stick: Part 3

By now, you’ve probably started putting your New Year’s resolutions into practice. It feels good to take steps towards positive behaviors and the formation of more healthful habits. Now, of course, is when the rubber meets the road.

Will your resolutions last beyond January?

It’s not that I don’t have faith in you. It’s just that it’s so darn hard. It takes lots of persistence and personal will to carve new behavioral grooves in our stubborn minds and routines.

To increase the sustainability of your New Year’s resolutions, apply the following concepts:

Focus on the Bigger Picture: Although you’re working daily or weekly to incorporate new actions and behaviors into your routine, don’t lose sight of the bigger picture. Even if it feels like you’re not making much progress in one particular week or month, be assured that you are doing so over time. Impatience can cause you to give up too quickly on new actions before giving them enough time to take hold.

Failure is Part of the Process: It’s hard to face failure. When it happens, your natural tendency will be to totally retreat from the context in which it took place. This often means abandoning resolutions after the first hicup or misstep. Embrace failure as part of a process, and know that it will happen. This is guaranteed. Stay unattached to self-judgment around it, and chock it up as part of the journey. The difference between people who successfully incorporate change and those who stay stuck is the ability to push past failure and keep going.

Utilize Multiple Accountability Methods: Any accountability method is better than none. Utilizing multiple methods is even more effective. Commit to a couple from the following options:

  • If you haven’t already, write your resolutions down (see part 2 of this blog series)
  • Tell a friend or colleague about your resolutions and ask them to check-in with you about them on a regular basis. You could do the same for them.
  • Use a journal, or create a log document, to track individual actions you’ve taken each week toward your resolutions
  • Post your written resolutions in multiple places where you’ll see them each day – at home on the door, or at work on your computer screen
  • Hire a coach or recruit a mentor. Having regular conversations with this person will keep attention and energy on your desired areas of change


If You Haven’t Already, Set Milestone Targets: If you’ve structured your resolutions most effectively, they speak to regular actions you’re taking on an ongoing basis. For example, you may have a resolution to lose weight by committing to working out twice a week for 45 minutes and doing cardio three times a week for 30 minutes. To complement this resolution statement, set milestone targets that map out the progress you hope to realize over time. A complimentary milestone for the previous example might be to lose 20 pounds by end of March and another 10 pounds by August. These goalposts will give you tangible targets to work towards and measure against.

Review Progress Quarterly: Keep your resolutions on the radar by setting aside time in your calendar (schedule it now!) to review progress at certain intervals. I suggest that you take stock of progress each quarter of the year.

Give Yourself Permission to Revise: Revising resolution statements doesn’t mean you’ve failed. It means you are giving yourself the flexibility to adjust to changing circumstances, time constraints, and realities. Give yourself this flexibility, as long as the spirit of your original resolution is intact. Revising doesn’t mean abandoning. It means adjusting. Try to still maintain some amount of “stretch factor” in your resolutions, even if you need to back off of some of the initial ambition.

This completes my three-part blog series on creating New Year’s Resolutions that stick.  For the other entries, go here:

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