New Year, New You?

Tips for New Year Resolution Success

By Dr. Aimee Vaughn

Every January gym memberships soar, health foods are purchased, cigarettes are thrown out, financial savings plans are made, family time is instituted, and stress management strategies are created.  People set goals every year to improve their lives, and yet only months later many will have given up on their resolution. Do those that fail to complete their resolutions just have less willpower? The answer is no, they have just either not chosen the right goal or need to plan more effectively. To help increase your chance of success with your resolution, here are some basic success strategies:

Set Meaningful Goals

If you are going to set a goal that will be difficult to achieve, it is critical that it is important to you or that you can see the importance of doing it to improve your life.  Basically, when the going gets tough, will you care enough about the goal to keep on keeping on?  Goals that are set to make someone else happy or are superficial in nature are often more difficult to achieve. The more meaningful the result of the goal, the easier it is to keep going during hard times. It helps to focus on why the goal is important to you. 

Surround Yourself with Reminders

Find a way to set up your surroundings with reminders about the goal and why it is important, to help you stay motivated during difficult times.  Carry or display a picture of your family, a letter you wrote to yourself at the beginning of the journey, a medical report, or a picture of that dream item you are saving for, anything that you can look at to remind you of your goal. The constant connection with what your goal is and what it means to you will help you stay motivated.

Set Realistic Goals

Often people want a great radical change but may not have the ability to make that great of a change right away.  Huge lifestyle shifts can be difficult, and sometimes life circumstances make drastic changes impossible.  Those who adopt an “I am either a success or failure” attitude, are likely to give up completely and label themselves as a failure at the first setback.  Consider the amount of time and effort your goal requires and create a plan you can sustain through the most difficult and stressful times of your year.

Dealing with Setbacks

Setbacks happen.  You have a busy week and can’t get to the gym, you take a week-long binge on junk foods, you light up a smoke after a stressful day, you made an impulse purchase, or the family has hardly seen one another in weeks, sometimes we just get off track.  Does that mean you failed? No, it means you need to revamp that plan so you can be more successful in the future.  Ask any great athlete, scholar, actor/actress, or business person and they will tell you their careers are built on learning from failure.  So, if you experience a setback, look over your plan and see what you can do to make it better, and get back to it!

Accountability Plan

One way to help stay on top of your plan is to share what you are working on with someone else.  Let that person help you look for potential areas where you might struggle for planning purposes.  Then encourage them to check in with you regularly to check up on that goal.  Just knowing that another person is going to ask you about your goal can sometimes instill motivation to stick with it.

Now Go Forth and Succeed

If you want to be successful in your New Year’s resolution, planning is key.  If you choose a meaningful but realistic goal, set your surroundings to remind yourself why that goal is important, plan for difficult times and setbacks, and have some support for your process, you will be better prepared to take on that resolution.  Above all else, take a moment to be proud of yourself for trying something new and be kind to yourself when things aren’t going well.  Remember, failure only happens when you fail to try. If you have questions, feel free to reach on on the Guidestar Counseling Facebook page or at

Happy New Year! May it be your best yet!

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash