3 Steps to Actually Keep Your Resolutions

December 29, 2021

We’re already less than a month away from 2022. The beginning of a new year is always an exciting time for ambitious people who want to start fresh on reaching career goals, losing weight, quitting smoking, picking up more hobbies, and accomplishing more in life. However, studies estimate that only 8% of people who set resolutions actually follow through with them.

What’s stopping you from being part of that 8%? Discipline? Vague resolutions? A general “blah” feeling towards your goals as the year goes on?

Luckily, the tricks to accomplishing your New Year’s goals aren’t as hard as you think. Here are a few tips that will make reaching New Year’s resolutions simple, hassle-free, and most importantly, successful.

Look at Smaller Goals

Since when do all of your New Year’s resolutions have to be big and bold? Part of why we have a hard time accomplishing long-term objectives like “writing a novel” or “running a marathon” is because these kinds of goals can seem daunting. They’re so big that they feel like they’re in fantasy-land. No way am I actually going to write a novel, you say to yourself. I don’t know how to do that. So understandably, you continue to just imagine yourself writing a novel, instead of just doing it.

Find the value in bite-sized goals. According to Harvard Business Review, our brains are wired with something called “completion bias.” We receive pleasure from checking things off our to-do lists, which is why we usually gravitate towards easier-to-finish tasks like checking emails, feeding the dog, and scheduling a dentist appointment before we begin to approach goals with unforeseeable ends.

Feed into this completion bias for a moment and try things that are manageable, like meditating for five minutes a day or eating an apple a day to begin healthier eating.

Create S.M.A.R.T. Goals

This is an acronym created in 1981 by George Doran, James Cunningham, and Arthur Miller. Its applicability to any goal explains why it has remained popular for the past 40 years. “S.M.A.R.T.” stands for “Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely.”

Let’s apply the S.M.A.R.T. method to the “run a marathon” example from earlier. Running a marathon can be an otherwise vague, overwhelming goal unless approached differently.

First off, make it as specific as you can. Remember, you want to get this goal out of Dreamland and into the real world. You won’t just run any marathon. How about this: you’ll run the New York City Marathon.

Next, make it measurable. Luckily, the marathon goal already has that going for it: it’s 26.2 miles. That’s an easily-identifiable goalpost—a point when you can say, “I did it!”

But hold on! How can you break down your goal and make it attainable? Refer to the point above by making smaller goals and taking step-by-step actions. Say that you’ll find a trainer by the second week of January and work with them. You’ll plan to work towards that 5K race in April in your metro area. You’ll aim to complete three-mile runs by February, six-mile runs by April, and so on until you can run those 26.2 miles. Make steps to reach your goal.

Is this realistic? That depends on what you’re comfortable with, but the New York City Marathon is a world-famous event that happens every year. It’s something millions of people have done before—why not you?

Finally, is it timely? By specifying that you’ll run the New York City Marathon, you’ve set yourself up to do it on the marathon’s upcoming date of November 6, 2022.

See? S.M.A.R.T.

Find an accountability buddy

If you want to go to the gym every day at 5AM, what’s going to help you out of bed more—going by yourself, or going with your friend Stephanie? You might be tempted to skip the gym to get more ZZZ’s, but not if it will leave Stephanie hanging.

A good accountability buddy has a lot to offer. For one, it adds another level of necessity to reaching your goals that feels more immediate. Going to the gym to lose weight? Whatever, that’s gradual. Going to the gym to lose weight and carpool with Stephanie, who’s already waiting for you to pick her up at 4:45 in the morning? Better not snooze that alarm.

Accountability buddies also offer encouragement and goal-tracking. Based on psychologist Dr. Edwin Locke’s Goal Setting Theory, we need to have a system of feedback when tackling our goals. Having Stephanie at the gym to encourage you to do one more set on the bench press will certainly help you keep going.


Don’t let another year slip by without accomplishing your goals. Trust that you can achieve whatever you want, and know that you owe yourself a fulfilling life. You don’t have to be overwhelmed by your goals, so long as you keep these tips in mind.

Here’s to a great 2022!

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