New Year's Resolutions: How to make them stick!

Happy 2015! This year I’m going to……..


Yep, New Year’s resolutions, the air is thick with them.  I actually tend to start making mine at the end of December, they sound a little like this “next year I’ll start” or “there’s no point starting that now so late in the year, but next year”.  Sound familiar?

It’s no surprise that most of us struggle to stick to these shiny new goals we’ve set ourselves.  In New Zealand it’s summer and the sun is shining, you’re likely on holiday, your spirits are high and these goals seem that much more achievable – so what is it that causes us to slip up and discard the notion of these once gleaming resolutions?


Do we intentionally set ourselves up to fail, or is it just that we don’t know how to succeed, then when it all gets too hard, we scrap it and go back to our old ways.  Let’s look at a few strategies for setting and achieving some goals for 2015.


Is it realistic?

Now I’m all for grand ideals – I will never tell anyone their dream is too big or stupid or they shouldn’t do it. But the reality is that big dreams typically require a lot of work.  Make sure you’re aware of at least the basic work required.  Do you have the time, money, energy, resource to commit to this goal?  How will it affect your family and relationships?


How passionate are you about it?

There are plenty of things I’d kinda like to do and just as many as I feel I probably should  do – but there are really only a handful that fall into the category of ‘if I don’t at least try this I will forever be filled with regret’.  Now you don’t necessarily need all of your New Year’s resolutions to be that passion driven, but if you want to make some that are going to stick then you need to have a reason for doing them – your own personal reason, it does not need to make sense to anyone else.  Smoking is a good example of this – most smokers know the habit is bad for them, financially and physically – yet knowing you should stop very rarely is enough to kick the habit.  Find a good ‘why’  behind what you want to achieve and that will help you immensely.


Make an action plan

A resolution isn’t a wish, simply writing it down or even telling others won’t make it happen.  You need to make a plan and take action to make those goals reality.  The top 10 New Year’s resolutions hardly change from year to year, when I look at the list (below) I see lots of things I’d like, but I know that life will get busy and best intentions will be overrun – unless I actually plan for these things in my everyday life.   Given their repeat appearance every year I suspect I’m not the only one who has ever fallen into this trap.  


Top 10 Recurring New Year’s Resolutions :


  1. Lose weight

  2. Stop smoking

  3. Get fit / exercise more

  4. Eat healthy

  5. Save money

  6. Travel more

  7. Spend more time with family

  8. Drink less

  9. Reduce stress

  10. Volunteer


You need to break down how you will actually tackle each of these goals, which leads into my next point.


Be specific

Exercise is a classic example where we tend to get a bit vague – “I want to exercise more this year”.  Great, but what exactly does that look like?  Break it down in to realistic goals, schedule them in (what is more – is it 3 times per week?), think about what activities you want to do – do you have the necessary gear and what will you do if the weather is inclement?  Getting specific will enable you to build a solid action plan.



So you’ve gone through this little checklist and have a small handful of resolutions that you think are realistic, that you feel passionately about and you’ve drafted an action plan which includes specifics; great!  Now you just need to commit to them.


Based on the top 10 list above, here are some ideas for making the commitment to achieving them:


  • Join a gym or club

  • Make it a habit to park at the furthest part of the car park; always take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator

  • Buy a yoga concession pass (I can help you with that - click here to get a discounted concession pass)

  • Call Quitline 0800 778 778 or to stop smoking

  • Try a holistic eating program such as the I Quit Sugar one

  • Open a savings account and create an automatic payment to it

  • Actually schedule in time with family – whether it’s date night with your significant other or some one-on-one time with one of your kids (alternate if you have more than one child!), put it in your diary, tell them too, that way everyone will look forward to it and it will quickly become a happy habit.

  • If you’re serious about drinking less you don’t have to wait for Dry July, check out for tips and support for changing your drinking culture

  • Set aside some ‘me time’ every week (oh boy, try it every day if you can!). Again, this works well by putting it formally in your diary, however, sitting and meditating or having a quiet cuppa for 10 minutes once a day also works a treat – commit to that fully by removing all distractions – no people, phones, computers or TV.

  • Call or email your favourite charity and ask them how you can help out - maybe it's only once a year for their annual appeal, or maybe it's a weekly committment - they will be grateful for the assistance either way.


So there you have it - my tips on how to set yourself up for success - whether it be for your New Year's resolutions or for any other goals you have.


Good luck!






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