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  • Writer's pictureMatthew Martenson

Making Your New Year's Resolution Stick

The champagne corks have popped, the parties are over and the ball has dropped. You’ve rung in the new year and welcomed 2020 as a fresh start, a building period, and a year of opportunities. If you’ve made a resolution to improve your health, your relationships, your job, your home, or another facet of your life, how can you avoid falling into the staggering 77% of people who do not see their resolutions through to completion?

1. Be intentional about your goals. Asking some simple questions can help you to decide if a goal is truly tailored to you and if it’s going to be sustainable. Consider:

  • Who is this goal for?

  • How will my life improve as a result of this goal?

  • What are the barriers that I anticipate as part of this goal?

  • What will this goal mean to me?

  • What will this goal empower me to do?

  • How does this goal relate to my values, my beliefs and my personal mission in life? How does it progress or restrict these elements?

Without asking some of these important questions, we may run the risk of assigning ourselves a goal that doesn’t fit, is predicated on another’s opinion of us and, ultimately, isn’t sustainable.

Starting and keeping a resolution journal could be a helpful way to start. Consider answering these questions for yourself and, as you continue to fill in the journal, you’ll have a visual way to track and remember your progress, including your highs and lows along this journey.

A visual timeline could also be helpful for accountability and to keep your eyes firmly set on the prize. Whether that’s a healthier body, a better relationship, saving for a trip or anything else that you’re after, consider plotting out time intervals with milestones and post this visual somewhere you’re going to see it regularly. For example, on your bathroom mirror you may write:

|--------January 30th--------------February 15th--------------March 15th--------------etc---|

  • Pay gym joining fee -Increase to 3x week -Start Zumba

  • Meet with trainer -Identify 1 new class -Maintain 3x week

  • Workout 2x weekly

Crafting a timeline give you a tangible plan and allows you to adjust as you need to.

2. Be realistic. The other reason a timeline may be helpful is for the times that we want to get a jumpstart on our goals and this may be our undoing. We can’t makeup for lost time and change happens slowly. Saving $10 a month will yield you 120% more annually than planning to set aside $100 a month, getting overwhelmed and not following through! Big changes come from little steps. Considering using a micro goal-setting approach to break down big goals into smaller, more attainable steps. Ever want to start that de-clutter/organization/cleaning project but you can’t get through the door much less visualize the project being done? This is where micro goal-setting is your friend and ally. As you have small successes you’ll feel successful and change will happen as you go.

3. Share your intentional, realistic goal. Share with the people in your life that love and support you, not the friend that’s always one-upping you. By sharing our goals with people that we love and respect and that reciprocate these feelings, we build accountability for ourselves. People will ask “how are you coming on ___” or “how long has it been since quitting ____”.

4. Reflect and Celebrate. Celebrate 1 month of keeping your resolution. Celebrate 3 months of keeping your resolution. Treat yourself. Journal. Make a photo diary of your progress. Whatever it is that you do, pay attention to how you’re doing it and celebrate yourself for sticking to it!

5. Expect barriers. It would be unrealistic to not expect difficulty in acclimating to any new change. Expect that there will be setbacks, temptation, low motivation, cheat days, arguments, relapse, etc. Change is hard but a clearly defined, intentional goal will be worth the work. The only failure is refusing to try again.

6. Get a professional accountability partner. If you’re struggling to find the accountability person in your life, consider a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) or Licensed Independent Social Worker (LISW) through QC Counselor. Those in the helping profession are facilitators of change and we can help you define your goals, plan a successful process, work through barriers and internal roadblocks and provide new tools and techniques that can get you closer to the life you want.

Check out our staff page at for our full list of licensed, professional helpers available to you or email us at

For worksheets on resolution journals, visual timelines, or micro goal-setting, please check out the “Tools” section of our website.

Happy New Year and Happy resolution-keeping!

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