Making A New Year’s Resolution That Works

New year is just a few days away and it’s the time from when you should start what your new year’s resolution gonna be. Whenever a new year ticks over, many people around the world decide it’s a good time for a fresh start, usually by making New Year’s resolutions. However, some figures suggest more than half of all resolutions fail. Here, we look at ways you can make lasting changes to reach your goals.

As well as looking at some New Year’s resolution ideas, we’ll look at why people fail with them, how you can make yours, and how to stick to them. Get ready to put your best foot forward.

Why do people make New Year’s resolutions? 

To many, there is a certain appeal about making a change at the start of the new year. New beginnings often signal a time for a fresh start – a chance to put past mistakes behind and look to the future.

Having an entire year ahead can feel like a blank slate, full of opportunity and potential. People also feel a sense of control when they plan sweeping changes for the new year.

There is also an element of tradition. As we’ll see, people have been setting resolutions for many generations, so there is a certain cultural element for some people.

However, all of these factors mean that there is often a lot of pressure on people to make these changes, which can be one of the reasons why there’s such a high failure rate.

When did New Year’s resolutions begin?

The recorded history of New Year’s resolutions dates back to the ancient Babylonians. As many as 4,000 years ago, the Babylonians held celebrations to bring in the new year and the planting of crops. They reaffirmed their loyalty to the king while promising to pay their debts and return borrowed items in the hope to earn favour from the gods.

History also shows us that the Romans had similar practices, and they eventually moved the calendar around so the year started on January 1st. This coincided with the celebration of the god Janus, who looked back on the previous year and ahead to the future. The Romans made promises of good conduct for the year ahead.

While the concept of making resolutions for the new year is mainly a Western practice, other countries have similar ones. For example, in Japan, some people practise Kakizome, where they write their goal for the year ahead in ornate calligraphy.

Despite its ancient roots, many people still make resolutions each year. For example, according to one survey, 44% of people in the UK planned on making resolutions for 2021.

Why do New Year’s resolutions fail?

A quick internet search will show various figures for the failure rate of resolutions. Whatever the result, it’s usually pretty high. So why are people so bad at completing their yearly goals?

There are a few potential reasons:

  • The aims aren’t specific enough. It’s quite easy to be vague when making resolutions. ‘Eat less chocolate’ or ‘save more money’ aren’t particularly goal-focused or measurable. What does more or less look like? And over what time period? Finding the right problem to solve can be helpful.
  • There are too many resolutions. Some people take the fresh start to the extreme, creating a list of their own perceived transgressions and trying to solve them all. As soon as one goes by the wayside, it can be disheartening to continue with the others.
  • It’s hard to change behaviours. Ultimately, New Year’s resolutions are usually about changing behaviours. Doing so can be difficult without first being aware of them and changing the mindset that drives them.
  • There’s no accountability. It’s not always easy being self-accountable. People are good at making excuses or letting minor failings slide. People rarely hold their goals up to others to keep them accountable.

What are the best New Year’s resolutions?

Finding the ‘best’ resolution is, of course, an entirely subjective process. What works for you may not work for others, and vice versa. Determining what success looks like for you is a useful place to start.

As we’ll see, when it comes to setting goals for the new year, there are certain things you can do to make them as useful as possible. To set effective goals, you should:

  • Be specific
  • Set measurable and attainable milestones
  • Make them relevant to your life
  • Give firm timescales to achieve them.

Essentially, you want to outline exactly what you want to achieve and when you want to achieve it by, ensuring that you can measure the outcome.

How to make New Year’s resolutions

So, let’s focus on how you can set your own resolutions for the year ahead. First, let’s go back to effective goal setting to get started.

There are five principles of goal-setting:

  • They should be clear
  • They should provide a motivating amount of challenge
  • They should have the commitment of the person setting them
  • Feedback on progress should be taken into account

The complexity of the required tasks should be taken into account.

How to stick to New Year’s resolutions 

Of course, just because you’ve got a solid resolution doesn’t mean that you’re automatically going to succeed. As with many changes in life, it takes time and effort to see the results. So how can you stick to your New Year’s resolutions?

There are several elements to bear in mind when it comes to sticking to your goals. Here are a few quick wins:

  • Be persistent. This point might seem obvious, but it’s important to stick at it when it comes to making progress. Missing a day or failing to meet a milestone doesn’t mean that you’ve failed; it just means you have to try again tomorrow. You have to keep motivated.
  • Be consistent. Similarly, finding a routine to follow can help you persist. Fitting in regular time in your schedule to work towards your goal means that it becomes a habit, and you can take gradual steps.
  • Learn as you go. You may find that your initial resolution isn’t quite right. It could be too easy or too hard, or not practical with your current situation. It’s perfectly fine to learn these lessons and adjust your aims as needed.
  • Tell others. Sharing your hopes can help to bring some accountability to your resolutions. You don’t have to go into exact details, but you can tell those closest to you that you’re working towards certain goals. They can then offer support if you need it.


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