How to Make a New Year’s Resolution That You’ll Stick To (and creative ways to set one)

New Year's Resolution


I can’t believe it’s 2018. Two-thousand-and-eighteen.  How is that even possible?!


Surprise, surprise!  Today we’re going to talk about New Year’s resolutions.  I bet you’ve made one of these.  Who hasn’t?  I ALSO bet that you’ve given up on most of the resolutions that you’ve made (I know I have).  Between 80-90% New Years resolutions fail by February or March.  Here are a couple reasons why:


  • We’re too hard on ourselves!  Many people set New Year’s resolutions that are unrealistic and completely unattainable to their specific lifestyle.  When they’re unable to achieve them, they put themselves down as if it’s their fault…that they lack willpower, or motivation, and so on.  Well, when you’re talking to and about yourself negatively, of course you’re going to want to throw in the towel.


  • Our resolutions are too “black and white,” without any flexibility.  This applies to the person who says “I’m never going to eat sugar again” or “I’m going to exercise every day.”  These types of goals are a set-up for failure–the second you have a slip-up, you’ll most likely want to give up because you told yourself you were NEVER going to eat a certain ingredient or skip a workout (moral of the story here: never say never).


  • We aren’t specific enough with setting resolutions.  Telling yourself “I’m going to eat healthier” isn’t all that helpful…because what does that even mean?  Taking action on a goal like this can be incredibly overwhelming (and lead you to want to give up) because there are SO MANY THINGS that ‘eating healthier’ could mean.


Most resolutions fail simply because they are not achievable.  There are so many things in life that are out of your control and thus setting out-of-this-world goals isn’t the best idea.  We need to give ourselves grace & understand that life happens.  That doesn’t mean that we have to give up completely, it just means we might need to switch up our goals halfway through the year, or completely forget about them while we’re on vacation or dealing with a crazy work schedule.  When you set goals that make sense to your lifestyle, you’ll be able to bounce back after a hiccup with no problem.


One way that you can set goals and resolutions that make sense is by using the SMART Goal strategy.  You may have heard of SMART before – it is an acronym to help with setting goals that you CAN reach.  Here’s what it stands for:


New Year's Resolution


And here’s an example of the difference between a non-SMART goal and a SMART goal:


Non-SMART Goal: I’m going to be healthier in 2018.

SMART Goal: I will add a serving of vegetables to 1 meal each day, and will go for a 30 minute walk after work 3 times each week.  I will work my way up to this gradually for 2 months, and by month 3 these goals will be part of my routine.


See the difference?  The second goal is specific, it’s measurable, attainable, relevant to what the person is trying to accomplish, and time-bound.


SMART goals take a bit longer to come up with, and you’ll have to sit down & spend some time thinking about what you REALLY want to accomplish in the New Year.  That sounds daunting, but it’s worth it!


Another thing to note – SMART goals aren’t for everyone.  Some of us do better without setting them, and that’s OK!  There are plenty of other ways that you can set a New Year’s resolution, and I’ve described a few other creative ways that you can set one below.  Also, maybe you just don’t want to set a New Year’s Resolution this year, and that’s OK too.  If there’s one thing that you work towards this year, make it doing what works best for you.


Creative Ways to Set New Year’s Resolutions

Since the typical ‘I want to eat healthier’ and ‘I want to exercise more’ New Year’s resolutions can get old, I came up with a couple of creative ideas to help make them more exciting and easier to incorporate into your lifestyle:


1. Set a different goal for each month.  This can make your resolutions seem less intimidating, and allows you to work on accomplishing multiple small goals, instead of one big one!  Maybe in January you want to try a new workout studio, February you want to volunteer for an organization you care about, and March you want to organize your apartment.  The possibilities are endless, and I think this is a really fun way to think about New Year’s resolutions.


2. Make your goals focused on others.  I’ve heard some people say that they don’t like New Years resolutions because they don’t like “working on themselves.”  Although I don’t think there’s anything wrong with focusing on you, I get it.  But you CAN focus your goals on improving the lives of others.  Why not set an intention to volunteer more, donate some money to a worthy cause, or do more random acts of kindness?  Not only will these benefit other people, they’ll also help you become a better version of yourself!


3. Find a resolution buddy.  Maybe you’re not the best at keeping yourself accountable.  That’s okay, because you can partner up with a friend or family member to work together towards a goal!  Find a friend who wants to go to go to yoga with you, or will take you up on trying a new recipe or going to a cooking class.  It’s also helpful just to find someone who will check-up with you regularly to see how you’re doing and will keep you motivated.


4. Come up with a “Word of the Year.”  Set your yearly intention with a word that you want to strive for each day.  This could be anything from positivity, to happiness, to focus, to freedom, to health, to self-love…whatever you want!  Write your word on a post-it note and place it in spots where you will see it every day.  Your mirror, your car, your computer screen, your refrigerator.  Use a journal to keep track of how you work towards living out your ‘word’ each day.


New Year's Resolution


I know I can’t write a post about New Year’s resolutions and fail to tell you what I’M working on for 2018!  I won’t bore you by writing them out in SMART form, but here are a few of my goals:


  • I plan to make this blog more of a priority so that I can share more content with all of you!  BUT, I also have a goal to not let it stress me out (if it does, I’ll be taking a break).  Blogging is truly a creative outlet for me.  I do it because I love doing it.  I love being able to share my passions with others by writing and developing recipes and working on my food photography.  Now that I have more time on my hands, I can’t wait to start doing more of all of this.  I’m not setting goals for how often I’m going to blog and make recipes because to me, that takes the fun and creativity out of it (going against the SMART concept here).


  • I want to make a point to try something NEW on the regular.  It can be so easy to get caught up in routines & doing the same things over and over again.  Some things I want to try: pottery, photography classes, seek out new hiking trails, an Orange Theory class, go to some sort of yoga workshop or retreat, the list goes on.


  • Focus on one thing at a time.  I have a busy, restless mind & a tendency to work on 1,000 things at once, which can get overwhelming fast.  No more of that in 2o18!


  • Do more for others, whether that means volunteering, more random acts of kindness, donating to worthy causes, and so on.


I hope 2018 has you feeling inspired and excited for what’s to come.  If you haven’t yet, subscribe to the Fresh Fit Flourish newsletter, which will be emailed to you starting sometime this month!  You’ll get my latest blog posts, and exclusive nutrition tips & recipes straight to your inbox!  Just enter your email address in the box below.



St. Paul, Minnesota Registered Dietitian




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