top of page

New Year's Resolutions that Stick

Updated: Oct 5, 2021

We might not yet be finished with the masks and hand washing but with vaccines rolling out, 2021 has to be a better year. The only way to make sure it’s better is to make plans and set goals. You can even call them resolutions if you like.

Having targets for ourselves matters because, after all, we can only hit what we aim at. And since we might miss to begin with, we might as well be aiming high. That was Henry David Thoreau’s take on setting goals. After a year of hibernation that’s the attitude, we need to adopt.

In that spirit, here are three more tips on how to set resolutions for 2021 (we also have another article to check out for 2021 planning):

1. Work out what matters.

While there’s been zero opportunity for socialising and adventure, we have had time for reflection. What is it you’ve missed during these months of scary headlines and curbed liberty?

Your answer is most probably what you should prioritise for 2021. There are other questions you can ask yourself to decide how to make a better life this year:

  • What have I learned about myself in 2020?

  • Given the choice, what activities would I like to spend more of my time doing?

  • No matter how difficult to let go of, what do I want less of in my life?

  • What will my future self be grateful I finally got around to starting this year?

What matters could well be something physical, but equally spiritual or financial. Pick the spheres of life that need your attention.

You need to decide what you’re going to focus your efforts on. Getting things done probably isn’t your problem. More likely: deciding what things to do in the first place.

2. Set yourself up for success.

Often the convention with New Year’s Resolutions is to give things up. And yes, maybe you should eat fewer sweet things. Maybe your time could be better spent than binging on television series. This isn’t Lent though – you don’t necessarily need to deprive yourself of pleasures.

Select activities that will contribute to that change you’ve set for yourself. Rather than the absence of something, decide on the positive substitute behaviour that will fill the void. Think about the specific moments when you’ll be weak and how you’ll deal with them.

Getting up to train in the mornings will be hard. What are all the small situational tweaks you can make that will ease your decision-making and effort? An often-cited example is laying out your training gear in advance the night before. That sort of preparation, the minutiae of making things happen is key to achieving the greater goals you set.

3. Commit yourself to change and remind yourself, often.

Most resolutions are forgotten before the end of January. Not because they’re difficult, rather they’re simply not visible. Without a reminder – a physical prompt – they’re soon lost among the plethora of your other daily chores and duties.

To stick to a resolution, commit to it in written form and place it somewhere you can’t miss it. On the fridge door, posted to your computer monitor, somewhere you’ll see it regularly. I create a mini version that lives in the front of my wallet so can take it out and remind myself of my goals anytime. A digital equivalent might be the lock-screen of your phone.

A power-up to keep your resolutions alive is to share them with someone else – someone who will regularly ask you about your progress. They hold you accountable to your goals and you to theirs.

So be selective about what you resolve to change – make sure it’s something that matters deeply and that will benefit you in the long-term. Decide how you’ll make it happen in detail, moment by moment, and then commit yourself with reminders in the form of actual notes physical or electronic, but by sharing with others as well.

Soon there’ll be an opportunity to get back out into the world. How will you change your life for the better?


bottom of page