The dos and don’ts of how to make your New Year’s Resolution realistic and successful

Person holding up a sparkler

By Abbrielle Wingert, UWO Health Advocate

Many individuals create some sort of New Year’s Resolution, but statistically only 8% of those people actually keep it. The start of the New Year is the perfect time to turn a new page in your life, yet our society struggles with keeping the promises and goals we made for ourselves.


  • New Years Resolutions are hard to reach sometimesThis is because people make resolutions as a way of motivating themselves, but they may not actually be ready to change their habits, particularly bad habits, which account for the high failure rate.
  • Psychology researchers have collectively identified what they call the “false hope syndrome”. This means an individual’s resolution is significantly unrealistic and may not align with their internal view of themselves.
  • Another aspect of failed resolutions lie in the cause and effect relationship in which you may think that if you lose weight, reduce your debts, or exercise more, your entire life will change, and when it doesn’t, you may get discouraged and then revert back to old behaviors. The real question is:

How do you create the perfect New Year’s Resolution plan?

Make a proper assessment of your situation. If there is a time when you should create a new year’s resolution, the time is now. Conduct a proper reflection. What are the goals you have for which you tend to procrastinate? Why is that? What are the values you really believe in? Who do you really want to become?Don’t hurry up and come with the first resolution that comes to mind–there’s no rush. Make your resolution meaningful so you will fulfill it.
See your life as a whole–everything is interdependent. When you sleep well, you feel happy and refreshed, you’re more efficient at school, you have time to exercise, you then feel good, sleep well, etc. Goals and activities also compete for the same limited resources: your time, energy, and money. An integrated approach is necessary.Don’t focus on one single area of your life, or wanting to “fix” things. Don’t have a compartmentalized approach to your life.
Focus! Be selective. Only your most important goals must make it to the list. A solid core of 3 to 5 goals is enough to start with. You can always add later if you feel comfortable and are on track with most of them.Don’t come up with an endless list of goals and start pursuing all of them. This is a recipe for disaster. You will fail, feel demotivated, and fail again. It’s a vicious circle.
Think in terms of processes and products. Products are the end results, and processes are what it takes to get there. If you want to become wealthy, you have to take control of your personal finances and save every month. If you want to be fit, then you have to mind your diet by making healthy food choices, sleep well, drink a lot of water, exercise a few times a week, and make time for yourself.Don’t limit your thinking to end goals only or “BE” goals (i.e. be fit, be giving of yourself to others (volunteering), be kinder, etc.).
Follow up regularly on your resolutions. Review them on a weekly basis. Making successful resolutions is a process, not a one-off event. Hold yourself accountable.Don’t think resolutions are a once-a-year type of exercise. If you think so, chances are that you will be in the exact same place next year.
Get a proper tool and methodology to set, review and manage your goals. Your goals need to be accessible, all in one place, editable at any time and your progress against them need to be easily measurable.Don’t write your resolution on a piece of paper. You’ll lose it again.

Health Benefits of Creating New Year’s Resolution(s):

I can't believe it's been a year since I didn't become a better person.Allows You to Reflect: Once you begin to think about the areas in your life you’d like to improve, you force yourself to reflect on not only your past, but your present and future.

Supports Positive Change: Resolutions tend to be goals that improve your life. When you recognize areas you would like to change, you can become empowered to take action. A resolution can be the first proactive step towards a more stable, healthy, and fulfilling life. 

Promotes Positive Self-Reflection: Reflecting acknowledges some of an individual’s most recent accomplishments. When immersed in the hustle and bustle of everyday life, we often forget to reflect on our achievements. As you continue to reach your goals, you’ll boost your self-esteem and confidence.