It’s the new year, do you want to eat healthier, exercise more, save more, sleep more, and earn more money? Regardless of whether you are reading this article in 2019 or 2020, I bet you are looking to live a better future.
And creating New Year’s resolutions can be one of the most life-changing activities in your life. We all crave for a better life. Nobody wants to live the same life over and over again. We want improvement, we want to do better, and we seek greater success in every area of life.
However, having resolutions is just the first step. It is the beginning.
The sad news is that most people fail at their New Year’s resolutions. According to this article on Forbes, there was a study conducted at the University of Scranton and the study found that only just about 8% of people achieve their New Year’s goals.
Yes, a mere 8%. Meaning, out of 100 people who set goals in the New Year, 92 of them fail to see the goals to the end.
And this is the reason I decided to write this article. This article is the ultimate guide to show you how to set your resolutions and what you need to do to achieve them.
Many people get it wrong. They thought that having a resolution is like identifying what they want. And this is correct, but it is not enough.
Meaning, having New Year’s resolutions is a great start, but in order to achieve them, you must do something else.
And the answer is in this article. Continue to read on and you will discover the science to making and achieving your New Year’s resolutions.
What is a New Year’s Resolution?
First, what is a New Year’s resolution? In simple terms, New Year’s resolutions are goals – yearly goals. Goals that you want to achieve in the new year.
For instance, it is the year 2020 now and your New Year’s resolutions mean goals and targets that you want to achieve in 2020.
So where do the ideas of the New Year’s resolutions come from? Religion and traditional practices.
This is what I discovered from Wikipedia:
- Babylonians made promises to their gods at the start of each year that they would return borrowed objects and pay their debts.
- The Romans began each year by making promises to the god Janus, for whom the month of January is named.
- In the medieval era, the knights took the “peacock vow” at the end of the Christmas season each year to re-affirm their commitment to chivalry.
- At watchnight services, many Christians prepare for the year ahead by praying and making these resolutions.
A New Year’s resolution is a tradition, whereby a person resolves to continue good practices, change an undesired trait or behavior, to accomplish a personal goal, or improve their life.
In the Chinese tradition, there is a saying, “A year’s plan started in spring.”
And as a Chinese, I do feel that spring, or the beginning of a new year is the best time to set goals or to resolve to make a positive change in life.
This is why a lot of people set new goals at the beginning of each year. It is a New Year after all. And a new year means new life and new hope.
Why It is Important to Have New Year’s Resolutions
Do you think that it is important to have New Year’s resolutions? Well, this wise quote from Stephen Covey said it all:
“Make time for planning. Wars are won in the general’s tent.”
When you know your destination and you make a plan for it, there is a higher chance that you will get there.
The point is that when you consciously plan for what you want, you are making conscious decisions to get there.
Most people are living a mediocre life because they don’t plan for what they want.
First, they have no idea what they want to achieve in their life, hence, they are living a reactive life rather than a proactive one.
Second, they don’t plan for it because they don’t know their destination. And when you don’t plan for what you want, you will suffer the Niagara syndrome as explained by Tony Robbins in his famous book, Awaken The Giant Within:
Too many of us don’t make the majority of our decisions consciously… in so doing, we pay a major price. In fact, most people live what I call ‘The Niagara Syndrome’. I believe that life is like a river, and that most people jump on the river of life without ever really deciding where they want to end up. So, in a short period of time, they get caught up in the current: current events, current fears, current challenges.
When they come to forks in the river, they don’t consciously decide where they want to go, or which is the right direction for them. They merely ‘go with the flow’. They become a part of the mass of people who are directed by the environment instead of by their own values. As a result, they feel out of control.
They remain in this unconscious state until one day the sound of the raging water awakens them, and they discover that they’re five feet from Niagara Falls in a boat with no oars. At this point, they say, ‘Oh shoot!’. But by then it’s too late. They’re going to take a fall.
Sometimes it’s an emotional fall.
Sometimes it’s a physical fall.
Sometimes it’s a financial fall.
It’s likely that whatever challenges you have in your life currently could have been avoided by making some better decisions upstream.
Do you get that? If you don’t know where you want to go, you will end up making decisions that are not helping.
This is why planning is vital. This is why setting goals are powerful. And this also explains why having New Year’s resolutions is important.
You don’t want to be a wandering generality. You want to a meaningful specific.
And you can only achieve greatness if you plan for you. No success happens through accidents.
What Resolutions Should You Make?
Now that you understand it is important to have New Year’s resolutions and to plan for them, but what are the resolutions you should make?
This is personal. What you want to achieve in the year 2020 can be totally different from what I want.
Furthermore, you don’t have to compare your resolutions or your goals with someone else. Everyone is different and what you want is different than mine.
Plus, you have to also consider your own capability and resources available.
If you have difficulties in determining what you want to achieve this year, check out this article for some insightful ideas:
After you go through the 20 resolution ideas mentioned in the article, I bet you will have a clearer idea of what you want to achieve in the new year.
In fact, what is more important is for you to find out what you want to achieve out of your life. You need to have a life vision.
And as I explained in my signature course, Goal Setting Formula, how you can discover what your ultimate goals in life. And I also showed the techniques on how and what you can do to achieve your life goals.
What Are the Most Popular New Year’s Resolutions?
After going through articles and articles, and reading research and studies on the internet, do you want to know what are the 10 most popular New Year’s resolutions?
Here is the list of the top 10 New Year’s resolutions that most people make…
- Lose Weight and Get in Shape
- Save More and Spend Less
- Eat Healthier
- Get Organized
- Read More
- Learn Something New, Like a Skill or Hobby
- Quit Smoking
- Spend More Time with Friends and Family
- Drink Less Alcohol
- Get Another Job
I suggest you read this article below to understand better about the top 10 resolutions above:
Knowing what is popular doesn’t mean that you should follow. Plus, these resolution ideas are just very general results that most people want.
So, how do you set or make New Year’s resolutions? Here is how…
7 Steps How to Set Your New Year’s Resolutions
I believe in planning. Most people fail to achieve their New Year’s resolutions and their goals because they don’t do it the correct way.
The most common mistake people make when setting a goal is that they just think about their goals, or perhaps they just write it down.
Now, it is true that you want to constantly think about your goals and you want to write them down, but doing these is just not enough.
You need to do more than just writing down your resolutions. Here are the 7 steps you can follow to make your New Year’s resolutions:
1) Write your resolutions down
First, take a piece of paper and write down your resolutions. Write down what you want to accomplish in the new year.
Some people don’t even bother about doing this. It just shows your commitment to your goals. How much do you want it?
For some people, they are willing to do whatever it takes to achieve their targets. They are willing to write them down because they care, and they are serious about their goals.
How about you? Are you willing to write down your New Year’s resolutions? Or do you prefer to just “dream” about them?
The process of making your New Year’s resolutions is just like setting goals. You want to be as serious and as committed as possible.
You want to send a message to your subconscious mind telling it that this is what you resolved to do and that you are 100% committed to achieving it.
2) Quantify your resolutions
Next, quantify your resolutions. In other words, make them measurable. Don’t just say that you want to lose weight, instead, quantify it. How many pounds or kgs do you intent to lose? What is the ideal weight you aim to hit by the end of the year?
Similarly, if your resolution is to save more money, don’t just write down that you want to save more, instead, be specific and make it measurable.
How much do you want to save per day, per week, per month, and by the end of the year?
The more specific you are, the better. This is because you want to give specific instructions to your mind about what you need to do.
When you set a vague goal, your mind doesn’t know what to do. And you will end up procrastinating it and eventually fail to achieve it.
Be specific with what you want and make your targets quantifiable.
3) Plan the necessary steps
This is where most people get it wrong. They thought that all they need to do is to write down their New Year’s resolutions and that’s all.
No, you must do more than that. This is where planning comes into the picture. You want to plan the necessary action steps so that you will know what to do to achieve the results you desire.
Don’t just write down your goals, brainstorm and write down what you need to do to achieve the goals too.
For example, let’s say your resolution is to lose 10kg within 9 months. So, what are the possible action steps you can take to achieve this result?
- Go for a run every weekday from Monday to Friday at 7 AM for 45 minutes.
- Reduce food intake by using smaller plates, bowls, and cups.
- Cut down calories by replacing cream with skim milk in coffee.
- Take no more meals after 10 PM.
- Hit the gym once every weekend from 8 AM to 10 AM.
These are some of the possible action steps you can take to achieve the target of losing 10kg in 9 months.
When you plan and write down steps like these, you are more likely to take action.
You can also use a technique called Implementation Intention to prime yourself into taking action.
No matter what goals you want to achieve, you must create an action plan so that you will know exactly what to do to achieve the goal.
Most people don’t do this, and this is why they fail to achieve their goals.
In my case, I want to build this blog to a higher level. So, what are my action steps? Below are some samples:
- I will write and publish quality articles at least 3 times a week.
- I will build an active community by posting every day on Facebook. I schedule the posts for the entire week on Monday.
- I will create 30 “quotes” pictures and schedule them to Pinterest every Tuesday.
- I will build my brand by creating a video and publish it to YouTube and Facebook every Friday.
The above are just some of my action strategies.
Hence, plan for your resolutions and your goals. Don’t just think about them, plan them, and work on them so that you will be creating results to achieve them.
Need more help in turning your New Year’s resolutions into an actionable plan? Read my previous article:
4) Execute your action plan
This next step is where most people give up. I must admit, it is simple, but it is not going to be easy.
In order to achieve your resolutions, you must work for it. You can’t just wait for the money to fall from the sky. You can’t lose 10 pounds by sitting and doing nothing.
There is no way you can succeed if you don’t take any action. Yet, this is where most people fail because their motivation doesn’t last.
And yes, it is normal that we are often affected by our own emotions and distracted by the daily hustle-bustle that we fail to achieve our targets.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. You can do better in this new year. You can achieve your resolutions and accomplish your goals. You can improve and make 2020 your best year ever.
First, you must execute your action plan and stick to it. So, how do you stick to your New Year’s resolutions?
Well, I have dedicated an entire section to this. So keep reading.
5) Review what works and what doesn’t
Once you took some action and work on your plan, you will get results. Even if you don’t get any result from your work, that in itself is a form of result, do you get it?
If you stick to your plan and take action, there are only 2 possible outcomes:
- You succeed, or
- You fail.
When you succeed and receive the results you desire, like you are slowly getting thinner and slimmer, congratulations, you are on your way to hitting your targets. And you should celebrate.
But what if you fail to produce the results you want? Well then, learn to improve your strategy and action plan.
You must understand that the process of achieving your New Year’s resolutions isn’t a straight line. There will be roadblocks. You will have to take detours. And there will be times when you want to give up on your goals.
But don’t let these challenges stop you from living the life you desire.
Once a week, or at least once a month, do a review to find out what is working and what is not. You want to constantly remind yourself of your resolutions and you want to program the ideas into your subconscious mind.
When your goals are out of your sight, you will quickly and easily forget about them.
Therefore, never let your New Year’s resolutions become obsolete, constantly review them, update them, and make them part of your daily life.
I strongly suggest you go through Goal Setting Formula and learn the powerful methods you can use to achieve your goals.
6) Improve your strategy
When you make your New Year’s resolutions, you are doing it in the present, but the results you want are in the future.
Meaning that the things that you want to achieve are in the future. And we can’t predict the future. Hence, there will be things that will surely be out of your control.
There will be times when you feel totally no motivation at all to work on your action steps. And there will be times when you must give way your resolutions to something more important in your life.
This is why you must be flexible with your action steps and strategy. They are not set in stone. You can always improve your plan to better suit your current circumstances.
The thing is that most people don’t review their results. And thus, they don’t really know if they are working toward or away from their resolutions.
So, commit to reviewing and improving your strategies. Find out what went right and what went wrong.
Obviously, do more of what help you produce the result you want, and do less or improve the things that are not working. Here is an article that will be helpful to you…
7) Celebrate your victories
Finally, you want to celebrate your victories, no matter how big or small. Whenever you have taken an action step, celebrate your win and feel the motivation.
Just like if your New Year’s resolution is to lose weight and you have successfully gone for a morning run, celebrate your win. Feel good about it.
You want to train your mind to feel great about taking action so that you will want to do more of it.
Once you have written a blog post, celebrate and feel good about winning.
After you have exercise or hit the gym, celebrate and feel good about it.
Once you have taken an action step, just feel great and celebrate your win.
It is just like what Oprah Winfrey said:
“The more you celebrate and praise your life, the more there is in life to celebrate.”
Here are some ideas about how you can do so:
How to Stick to Your New Year’s Resolutions
Now let’s talk about one of the most pressing issues – how to stick to your resolutions and plans.
It is easy to write down what you want to achieve in 2020, but it is a completely different thing when we talk about taking action and sticking to the plan.
Here’s one thing you need to know: Successful people are successful because they choose to take action and do it even when they don’t feel doing it.
Yes, people are able to lose weight, build a successful business, grow a blog, or achieve their goals because they have the discipline to stick to their plan.
They choose to do it even if they don’t have the motivation to do it. This is what you must learn to do here.
Here are 3 simple methods to help you build your motivation and maintain your momentum throughout your journey.
1) Focus on starting and taking small steps
We all know that motivation is important, but we cannot rely just on motivation alone because there will be times when we don’t feel motivated and we just want to be lazy and do nothing.
So, one of the best ways to overcome this is to lower the resistance to taking action.
Think about doing push-ups. Do you think it is easier to do 50 push-ups every day or do you think it is easier to do just 1 push-up each day?
The answer is obvious. And how much motivation and willpower do you think you need to do just 1 push-up? Not much. Maybe you don’t need any willpower and motivation at all.
This is why you must focus on starting and taking small steps.
When you think about the entire process, like losing weight where you need to workout and exercise for an hour every day for the rest of your life, you will feel exhausted.
The thought of exercising, working out, and sweating in the gym for an entire year will tire you out.
This is why we don’t want to focus on the big task – the goal. Instead, after we have made the New Year’s resolutions, we shift our focus to the small, daily tasks.
Focus on starting. Focus on doing just one push-up. Focus on writing just one paragraph or 500 words.
You want to put your mind to think about things or tasks that are easy to complete. So that you will never feel exhausted and find it difficult to do.
You want to lower the resistance for execution. Read this article to learn how to focus on taking small action steps:
2) Involve someone who is supportive
In a study conducted by Dr. Gail Matthews in Dominican’s Department of Psychology in the School of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, she discovered that accountability is one of the most powerful tools to achieve goals.
Dr. Matthews divided the participants into a few groups. And she found that the group that writes down their goals and action commitments, plus sending a weekly progress report to a friend, has the highest chances of accomplishing their goals.
In short, creating accountability does help you build the commitment to take action.
In other words, you want to involve someone else so that you will feel accountable to take action.
If you keep your goals just to yourself, there is no accountability. You will procrastinate and no one will know.
However, when you share your progress with someone else, as in Dr. Matthews’ study, people feel the commitment and are more accountable for their actions.
This is why you want to involve someone else who is supportive. You can do it like how Dr. Matthews’ participants did, send a weekly progress report to your accountability partner.
First, find a supportive accountability partner who is willing to encourage you to hit your goal.
Second, share your New Year’s resolutions with your partner and then tell him or her your action steps. You want your partner to know what exactly are the action steps that you will take during the week.
At the end of the week, send your progress report to your partner. Let your partner know how you are progressing.
Repeat each week.
When you do this, you are holding yourself accountable because someone is there checking on you.
3) Remember your purpose
The third method to stick to your New Year’s resolutions is to always remember your purpose.
Yes, what motivates people is the reason behind what they do. It is your purpose that truly matters.
Think about it, why do you do what you do? When your purpose behind something is strong, you will do it no matter what.
But, when your purpose behind your goal is weak, you will make an excuse. You will tell yourself why you can’t rather than why you must.
It is our purpose that separates the doer and the thinker.
Just like the “burn the ships” story from Captain Hernan Cortes. When Cortes landed in Veracruz to conquer the land, he ordered his men to burn the ships they arrived in.
Doing so left his men with the do or die mentality. They have no way to escape and there is no return journey. The only way Cortes and his men can survive the battle is to win the battle.
This shows how important your purpose behind your resolutions must be.
When your purpose is empowering and strong, you will do whatever it takes. And the opposite is also true.
So, do you want to learn how to strengthen your purpose and develop empowering reasons to support your goals? Use my Goal Setting Formula technique.
2020 New Year Resolutions Templates
By now, you should understand what New Year’s resolutions are, why they are important, how to make them, and what you can do to stick to your plan until you achieve them.
There is one most tool that you can use to help you hit your New Year’s target, and that is the use of a template.
In my previous article, I share 13 ready-made New Year’s resolution templates for the year 2020. You can download them, print them out, and use them as a reminder for what you want to achieve. Check them out:
I understand that this is a long article and it may take a while to read this entire article. But I have tried my best to compile everything and hope that you will understand how setting New Year’s resolutions is important and what you can do to achieve them.
Remember, writing down and creating your plan for the new year is just a beginning. You will need to do more than that to achieve success in the coming year.
So, I strongly suggest you adopt the mentality to keep improving your knowledge and your skills.
To me, goal setting is a skill. And the more you learn about it, the more you do it, the better you will become. And with better skills, you can achieve more.
I hope you enjoy what you read.
So, do you think this article is helpful?