Go back in time to last year. You wake up after a New Year's Eve celebration, and you're ready to tackle this year's resolutions. You had New Year's resolutions, right? What's more important is whether you achieved them. If you didn't, you get another chance in 2023.

New Year's resolutions are not that much different from goals. What distinguishes them is the time they go into effect, Jan. 1. People often have good intentions for following through on resolutions, but research shows most people abandon their New Year goals within a few weeks or months of Jan. 1. The reason? They didn't set the right goals in the first place. Let's look at some characteristics of the best New Year's resolutions, and how you can structure your own New Year's resolutions in a way that makes them easy to stick with.

Make Your New Year's Resolutions Specific

When setting your New Year goals, focus on the details. A vague goal, such as "Exercise more," is not helpful, because it's hard to measure and easy to ignore. The best New Year's resolutions are specific: I will lose 10 pounds, meditate for 10 minutes a day, or read one book on my literary bucket list every month. Are your goals that specific?

The New Year's resolutions most people make are usually the same old, same old: lose weight, exercise more, find a better job, spend more time with friends and family. Blah! Blah! Blah! There's one thing wrong with all these resolutions: they're vague, non-specific, and generic.

Specificity is what makes a resolution work. If you are not specific, you won't be able to track or know if you've succeeded or failed. And without that feedback, it's hard to change course when you need to. All your resolutions should be trackable and specific enough to hold you accountable.

So, rewrite your resolutions and include numbers - 10 minutes a day, five times per month, etc., rather than vagaries like exercise, losing weight, or reading more books. The details make the difference.

The Best New Year's Resolutions Are Measurable

When you make a specific New Year's resolution, like walking two miles per day, document your progress. Doing so will help you stay on track and motivated. You can also use Fitbit or Health Month on your phone or computer to track how well you are sticking with your goals and your progress. At least keep a physical walking journal and be consistent about it.

Make Your New Year's Resolutions Inspiring

The resolutions you're likely to stick with are those that get your creative juices flowing and make you feel more alive. If a resolution or goal doesn't excite you, it's easy to discard in February and end up back at square one. Maybe it's time to abandon the old, tired resolutions you never follow through on and choose ones that excite and inspire you. Make this the year you take that class in tap dancing or Tai Chi. Choose something you feel passionate about.

Make Your New Year's Resolutions Realistic

Another reason New Year's resolutions fail is unrealistic expectations. For example, you resolve to write a book in a month, and when your book isn't finished, you get discouraged and quit. But is it realistic to write a book in 30 days? Maybe if it's a short e-book, but if you're aspiring to write a novel the length of "War and Peace," it's not a realistic goal. Your resolutions need tweaking.

The Best New Year's Resolutions Have a Time Goal

Resolutions are often vague, open-ended goals that don't offer structure or accountability. But setting a deadline gives you something specific and measurable to work toward. If you have an overriding goal of achieving something, like losing 20 pounds, break it down into smaller goals and add a deadline to each. For example, lose a pound per week, and you'll reach your goal in five months. Smaller goals are more manageable, and when they're attached to shorter time frames, you're more likely to follow through. Chop those goals into smaller pieces. It will make them feel less frightening and overwhelming.

The Bottom Line

Wishing you the best in the New Year, and make sure your 2023 New Year's resolutions are specific, measurable, inspiring, and realistic.


"United States: New Year's resolution for 2021 | Statista." 05 May. 2021, statista.com/statistics/378105/new-years-resolution/.
"The Importance, Benefits, and Value of Goal Setting." 07 Dec. 2021, https://positivepsychology.com/benefits-goal-setting/.