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How to Keep New Year’s Resolutions (+ 6 Unconventional Tips)

Adopting positive habits at the start of the year can set you up for success. Learn how to keep New Year’s resolutions for good.

Benita Liew
Writer at Motion
Mar 6, 2024
Table of contents

You sketch out these big New Year’s plans each January, swearing this year will be different, only to hit a wall weeks later.

You’re not alone. In fact, 90% of all resolutions fail.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. With a few simple techniques, maintaining your resolutions can be as easy as creating them.

That’s right — you can make your resolutions stick and turn your dreams into real-life achievements.

So, if you’re tired of the same old cycle and ready for genuine progress, read on. We’ll show you how to keep your New Year’s resolutions year-round.

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Why is it so hard to keep New Year’s resolutions?

So, you've swapped your greens for chips and your early bedtime for late-night social media marathons — again.

We’ve all been there. Let’s unpack some of the reasons why sticking to New Year’s resolutions is tougher than it looks.

You’ve set the bar too high

Setting goals so high they’re practically in orbit?

Ambitious goals are inspiring, but unrealistic ones can quickly turn into a black hole that drains your motivation — especially since miscalculating the gravity of making big life changes is common.

“Failure to reach these milestones can lead to feeling unfulfilled and wallowing in negative self messages,” explains Jayashri Kulkarni, Professor of Psychiatry at Monash University, in an interview with ABC News. “All this does is set people up to opt out of trying again.”

You don’t have a game plan

Unfortunately, many New Year’s resolutions focus on the big finale rather than the rehearsals needed to get there.

For example, with weight loss goals, most people daydream about becoming the “after” photo, but they don’t want to think about what it takes to get there. And what it takes to get there, such as eating nutritious meals, working out regularly, or saying goodbye to junk food, is exactly what’s needed to lose weight.

Big dreams are the North Star. But without those baby steps, it’s easy to lose direction.

You don’t see the bumps ahead

When you set a resolution, it’s easy to imagine a smooth journey to success. But life is full of unexpected hurdles, and not anticipating them can quickly throw you off course.

A great way to avoid getting stuck is to script your own “if-then” strategies.

Rainy day ruining your run? No problem; there’s a home workout video for that. Being prepared means you’re always in the driver’s seat, cruising steadily toward your destination.

You can’t shake off old habits

Old, often bad habits stick like glue because they’re woven into your daily routines and neural pathways. Swapping them out for new ones means always being on your toes, which can wear you out and be tough to stick with.

You’re caught in all-or-nothing thinking

When it comes to resolutions, it's easy to fall into “all-or-nothing” thinking. Mess up once, and you might think it's all over and give up entirely. But it's important to remember that slipping up is part of the journey. Real progress isn't a straight line — bumps along the way are totally normal.

Statistic on how many people keep New Year’s resolutions

‎How to make your New Year’s resolutions stick

Now that we’ve uncovered the twists and turns that can detour your New Year’s resolutions, it’s time to shift gears. Here are some easy-to-follow steps to make those resolutions stick for good:

1. Set specific, achievable goals

Instead of using broad strokes, like “lose weight” or “save money,” pinpoint exactly what that means for you. How many pounds do you want to shed? What’s your savings target?

Similarly, rather than vaguely wanting to improve team efficiency, aim to reduce project turnaround times by 15%.

These precise goals turn your resolutions into a roadmap, making it easier to track your journey and celebrate the milestones along the way.

2. Break your goals into smaller steps or “mini-challenges”

Tackling big resolutions can feel daunting, so cut them into bite-sized pieces. As Ayalet Fishbach, a motivation scientist with the University of Chicago, says on NPR, “You want to have small wins. We, as people, we're not designed to pursue really long-term goals.”

So, if you dream of doubling your client base, focus on adding two new clients each month.

Personal goals can become fun mini-challenges, too. If you want to read more, for example, why not challenge yourself to a new book every month, especially from a genre you rarely explore? This way, you can keep the momentum going without overwhelming yourself.

3. Create a plan and schedule

Ahoy, goal-setters! Now’s the perfect time to channel your inner buccaneer to make those dreams a reality.

See, pirates don't just stumble upon treasure — they have a plan of action. So, take a leaf from their logbook and plot your journey with care.

Want to save money? Figure out how much to set aside with each paycheck and when.

Want to sleep better? Put your phone away by a certain time before you go to bed.

With an action plan to guide you and a schedule as your stars, you’ll be finding treasure faster than you can say, “Arrr!”

4. Track your progress

Keeping tabs on your journey toward your goals is like marking your progress on a treasure map. It shows you how far you’ve come and what you have left to conquer.

Whether it’s marking off days on a calendar, writing in a diary, or using a progress tracker, each mark is a step closer to unearthing your bounty.

5. Stay consistent

Want to know the real trick to making your resolutions stick? Good ol’ consistency. It’s the daily steps, not just the giant leaps, that get you there. Whether it's reminding yourself to breathe deeply or check your savings, these tasks become daily actions, turning big dreams into everyday reality.

And with Motion’s recurring tasks feature, phrases like “I forgot” or “I'll do it tomorrow” become officially banished from your vocabulary.

Screenshot on how to schedule recurring tasks in Motion

‎6. Be patient with and kind to yourself

Chasing New Year’s resolutions is more like running a marathon than sprinting. Take it from the tortoise — slow and steady wins the race.

So, when your plans go wrong, treat yourself with kindness instead of criticism. Celebrate every small step forward, and don’t beat yourself up over the setbacks. Be gentle, patient, and most importantly, kind to yourself — because you’re doing great!

7. Find support and accountability

Reaching for the stars can feel less like an uphill battle when you’ve got someone in your corner. And having an accountability ally is like having a cheerleader, coach, and teammate rolled into one. In fact, sharing weekly progress updates with a buddy can up your success by 70%.

So, catch up with a friend for weekly pep talks, or join a group with the same vibe. That extra push makes all the difference.

8. Reward yourself

Sticking to your New Year’s resolutions deserves celebration. So, give yourself a pat on the back with a reward each time you hit a milestone. Whether it’s treating yourself to a nice meal out after a month of healthy eating or having a relaxing day off after a productive week, rewards can provide the encouragement you need to keep going.

9. Adjust as needed

Life is full of surprises, and sometimes, your initial plans for your resolutions need a tweak or two.

If you find that a goal doesn’t fit your lifestyle or is too ambitious, it’s okay to adjust. Changing your strategy doesn’t mean giving up — it means you’re smart enough to find a better way to succeed. This flexibility keeps you in the game and moving toward your goals, even if the path there looks different than what you’d first imagined.

6 tips to “trick” your brain into keeping your New Year’s resolutions

Ready to outsmart your own brain and make those New Year’s resolutions stick? We’ve got six genius hacks that trick you into staying on track.

1. Use tools like Motion to automate routine tasks

Dive into the new year with a smart helper by your side! Using Motion is like having a personal assistant who not only organizes your tasks but also fits them neatly into your calendar.

Want to build new habits? Simply slot them into your schedule and set reminders. Unexpected changes? No problem. Motion automatically reshuffles your tasks so you can keep moving forward without missing a beat.

And when it's time to focus, we help you block out distractions so you can focus on what really matters.

With Motion by your side, it’s easier than ever to stick to your goals.

Motion automatically adds tasks to your calendar

‎2. Change your environment

It’s amazing how much your surroundings can influence your behavior. So, if you’re looking to make your New Year’s resolutions stick, start by giving your surroundings a makeover.

For instance, if you’re aiming to eat healthier, clear out all the junk food from your pantry. If you want to boost your productivity, design your office space to keep distractions at bay while keeping essential tools within reach.

Adjusting your setting helps create a path of least resistance, nudging you naturally toward your desired behaviors without the constant battle between willpower and temptation.

3. Pair new actions with old habits

Combining new habits with existing ones can act as a shortcut to making them stick.

So, if your resolution is to practice more gratitude, try thinking of three things you’re thankful for each time you brush your teeth. Or, if you’re looking to enhance your industry knowledge, commit to reading one industry-related article during your lunch break each day.

This technique effectively “piggybacks” new habits onto old ones, making it easier for them to take root.

4. Implement a “two-day rule”

Deploy the “two-day rule” from your resolution arsenal for a fail-safe approach to habit-building.

Miss a day? It happens. But miss two? That's your cue to jump back in. The two-day rule is the sweet spot between discipline and flexibility, encouraging you to persevere without having to press the panic button. Plus, it helps you steer clear of the “all-or-nothing” mindset that can tempt you to throw in the towel.

5. Use laziness to your advantage

Who said being lazy can’t be productive? Make your inner sloth work in your favor as you chase those New Year’s goals.

For example, if eating healthier is the plan, stock up on healthy, ready-to-go snacks. That way, the lazy option is also the smart option.

And when it comes to getting things done, remember — 80% of your results come from 20% of your efforts.

Pie chart showing the 80/20 rule in action

‎6. Remember your “why”

Don’t let the hustle and bustle of everyday life make you lose sight of the reasons behind your New Year’s resolutions. Your “why” is a potent source of motivation that:

  • Provides clear direction
  • Helps you stay energized, especially during challenging times
  • Guides your decisions
  • Keeps you resilient against setbacks

By constantly reminding yourself of why you started, you’ll find it easier to adjust your approach and stay focused on what truly matters, steering clear of distractions. Plus, this deep connection to your goals keeps your eyes on the prize, making every step more meaningful and every achievement sweeter.

Make this year your year with Motion

Remember the sense of optimism you felt sketching out those big plans in January? That determination that this year, things would be different?

It’s important to keep that spark alive, even when the going gets tough. Learning how to keep your New Year’s resolutions is totally doable — and now, you’re armed with the strategies to make it happen.

With Motion by your side, bringing those dreams to life gets a whole lot easier.

Looking to build healthy habits? We’ll prioritize them for you. Want uninterrupted focus time to shoot for the stars? You got it. Need a way to be held accountable? We’ve got your back.

Try Motion for free for 7 days, and let this year be your year.

Benita Liew
Benita is a wizard at breathing life into the dry and dense world of B2B SaaS. Bringing a fresh perspective to every piece, Benita turns exhaustive research into a delightful read, making even the most well-covered topics feel fresh and exciting. When she's not writing, you can find her collecting recipes and crocheting her own clothes.
Written by Benita Liew