This Year, Change Your Strategy on New Year’s Resolutions for Maximum Success

New Year’s resolutions are a universal in our culture. Frequently, right before or after the New Year, people may ask you what your resolutions are, naturally making the assumption that you have some. And yet, as obsessed we are with making them, when asked, most people report they they didn’t succeed in achieving last year’s resolutions.

Why does that happen? And better yet, what can you do to avoid being a part of the flock of people who make the same resolution year after year only to come up short?

Here are some thoughts on how to change things up this year, and hopefully have more success:

Make a list of the previous year’s resolutions. The first thing you should do is measure your relative success in previous years. What resolutions did you have in those years, and did you manage to accomplish them? In particular, keep an eye on resolutions that are recurring. For instance, have you been trying to lose weight every year for 3 years, but it just doesn’t seem to be happening?

Identify the things that are standing in your way. When you find a resolution you haven’t succeeded at, try to identify why that’s the case. Be honest with yourself. Was it really out of your hands, or is it that in the end you just didn’t have the motivation to follow through? Also acknowledge how you accomplished any successes. Was there a strategy that worked for you?

Set time-limited goals. A lot of the time, the difference between a goal you can accomplish and one that’s insurmountable is how you frame that goal to yourself. Being “a whole new you” in the new year is a very difficult thing to do. We’re humans, we have habits, and occasionally you may find that you slip up on your goal. If your goal is to always be better, that could throw you for a loop and cause even further slip-ups.

Instead, our recommendation is to set your goals for a limited time period. Have you noted the popularity of the Whole30 movement? More people that you’d think would be able to do it end up succeeding at it, and that’s because the goal has a finite timespan. When you’re having a tough time, you can just think “I can do this for a few more days, then I can do whatever I want”. That tends to do wonders for your willpower.

The beauty of this system is that, according to research, most things become a habit in about 3 weeks. So, you can use a finite framework of a short-term goal to make the result more achievable, but you’ll still likely benefit in the long term because you’ll want to stick with the new goal after you’re done. It’s not a guarantee, but hey, if it gives you a new way to approach your goals, why not give it a try?