Making New Year’s Resolutions Stick.

by Sarah Welch


I have never been good at sticking to my New Year’s resolutions. I’d like to make 2009 different, but I can already feel myself slipping.


Well, you’ll be glad to know that you’re in good company! In spite of well-intended resolutions, a recent survey by FranklinCovey Products found that more than 75 percent of respondents will break their resolutions within 3 months and almost one-third will break them by the end of January. So what’s the secret to sticking to it in 2009? As with all things, a little organization and planning goes a long way. Below are some ideas on how you can stay the course and realize your potential in 2009.


#1 Make Specific Mini Goals


Big changes are accomplished by taking consistent steps in the right direction. Instead of making sweeping resolutions, like “lose 25 pounds” this year, try making a series of mini goals. For example, lose 4 pounds by January 18, and another 1.5 pounds by February 1. Smaller, specific goals are easier to reach. Once you have the thrill of reaching one, you’ll want to reach for another, and another. Before you know it, you’ll have arrived at your destination. This works really well for the #1 and #2 most popular resolutions: saving money & losing a few unwanted pounds. If you’ve got both on your list, consider doing the following for free:

  • Renting workout DVD’s from the library for free! Mix it up each week
  • Going sledding… trust me, walking up that steep hill 50 times will give you one heck of a workout
  • Window shopping and walking the biggest mall in your area - just leave your wallet at home so you’re not tempted to buy
  • Running at the indoor gym at a local school

#2 Cement Your Commitment to Goals


Humans are simple creatures of habit. Habits get changed in two ways: because it’s too painful to continue acting in the same way, or because the potential rewards of changing your behavior are so great. Stack the deck in your favor by listing a few benefits you will gain by sticking to your resolution as well as a few bad things that will happen if you continue on in your old ways. Keep those reminders in a place that you can revisit them easily and often, like your to-do notebook or agenda. You’ll be amazed at how those simple statements can give you the willpower you need to resist the chocolate in a moment of weakness.


#3 Plan for a Little Failure


Nobody is perfect. Recognizing that fact and planning ahead for the inevitable slip-up will almost certainly increase your chances of keeping your resolutions over the long-term. If you’re scratching your head wondering how on earth you plan ahead for failure, consider these two options. First, enlist a resolutions buddy. Agree to be there 100% for each other to help you get back on track when you fail – whether it’s by phone, email, instant message or text message. Second, make a ‘dust yourself off’ plan. List one or two small actions you can take immediately to get yourself back on track for each resolution you want to keep.

anne marie

This is right up my alley! I definitely agree with the making small specific goals in order to fulfill your bigger, life goals! Great to read this!
Anne Marie


Hi Sarah,

I like #1 making specific mini goals. I think most people get discouraged and overwhelmed by the enormity of the task. Breaking the task or the goal into mini, easily reachable goals is a great way to proceed.

Most of us know this already but all it takes for us to act is someone to just reiterate it for us. I guess it makes us feel that we are not the only ones having a hard time sticking by the resolutions.