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How to make a new year resolution that sticks

Updated: Mar 17, 2023

Happy New Year! We have made it to 2023… and let me guess, we are all once again saying “This will be MY year! I am FINALLY going to…” (insert resolution here).

We have all done it - set new year resolutions to help us achieve the life we want by the end of the next year. Think:

”I want to lose weight.”

”I want to travel more.”

”I will drink more water.”

”I will exercise everyday.”

”I am going to run a marathon!”

”I will get a raise!”

”I am finally going to start that project I’ve been meaning to do…”

And on it goes. Don’t get me wrong, resolutions are great! It is amazing to set goals to identify ways you want to change. However, most of the time these resolutions amount to, well, not much. We most often come to the New Year’s celebration the following year with our resolutions still floating around, unfulfilled.

Let’s break the cycle! Here are some strategies you can use to actually make your resolutions stick.

1. Visualize.

Close your eyes. Think about your resolution or goal. Imagine you have achieved your goal. What does it feel like? What does your life look like? What has changed around you to support your goal or as a result of this goal? Got it? Great! Grab a pen, and write down everything you visualized. Bottle up the feeling you imagined when thinking about having achieved your goal- this is motivation GOLD. When you are losing the drive to make your resolution happen, close your eyes and reimagine this feeling, using it to help you be motivated to keep making forward motion.

2. Find meaning.

Think about your resolution. What is the “why” behind it? Do you want to exercise every day to feel strong? Do you want to lose weight to have more energy for your kids? Do you want to eat out less to save money for a trip you want to take? Determining the “why” behind a resolution can help you develop intention around the goal. This can help you to break down the steps you need to take to get to where you want to be.

3. Be SMART.

Once you have your goal and know the meaning behind it, it is time to get to the nitty-gritty. Refine your goal using the acronym SMART:

Specific - your goal should be clear and specific so that you know exactly what you want to achieve. For example, instead of “be more organized” you could set a goal to have a more organized closet.

Measurable - you should be able to track your progress. Instead of a goal to lose weight, you might set a goal to lose 5kg over the course of 10 weeks by making a healthy dinner 5 nights per week and exercising 3 times per week.

Achievable - goals must be realistic in order to maintain motivation to achieve them. If you enjoy wine but want to cut back, it wouldn’t be realistic to say “I’ll stop drinking wine.” Perhaps a more achievable goal would be to limit yourself to wine on weekends or to 1 glass of wine per evening.

Relevant - this is all about having a goal that has meaning (see #2 above!). If the goal isn’t relevant to your life or the direction you want to go, it simply won’t happen.

Timely - goals must be time-based to be truly actionable. Instead of a goal to go back to school or do a new training, a better objective would be to sign up for a course within the next month.

4. Find support.

Even the most motivated person with the best set of resolutions hits bumps in the road. The best way to handle these obstacles is by building a support system. An accountability buddy or group is an excellent option for support - when you are having a tough time, having someone to lift you up can make the difference so you can move past the obstacle. Message is a great place to find support, post in the forum your resolution and create an accountability group.

5. Take one step.

When you imagined your life after achieving the goal, what did it look like? What can you implement NOW to start building a support structure to get you one step closer? Often our goals are long or require a lot of time to achieve, which ends up being a barrier to getting started. Instead of letting this happen to you, think of just one small step that you can take TODAY to get closer to achieving your resolution. This might be one phone call, spending 10 minutes making a start, or even simply telling someone about your goal so you stay accountable. Even if the small step seems insignificant, any forward momentum is meaningful!

Have you set resolutions or intentions for this year? How can you use the tips above to make progress and achieve your goals this year?


About the author:

Stephanie Rink, MS, RD, LDN is a US-trained Registered Dietitian with nearly 10 years of experience helping expat families feel confident about food choices for themselves and their growing families. She offers nutrition coaching services for families looking to expand, pregnant and postpartum women, infants, and children through a family-inclusive and intuitive eating lens.

The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of Message.


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