How To Actually Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions This Time

by Hank Coleman

New Year's ResolutionsI’m horrible at keeping my New Year’s Resolutions year in and year out. They typically fall by the wayside a few weeks into the new year. I don’t mean to give up on them so soon. I continue to make the same mistakes when designing my New Year’s Resolutions year after year, but I am bound and determined to make this year different than the past few. There are several goals that I want to accomplish this year. So, I have listed a few ways that you can actually keep your New Year’s Resolutions this time around.

How To Actually Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions

1. Make SMART Goals. Your goals have to be specific, measurable, attainable, results oriented, and time based (SMART Goals). This is one of the best ways to layout efficient goals that have the most likely chance for you to keep your New Year’s Resolutions this time. Your New Year’s Resolutions need to be very specific. You should not simply list a goal of losing weight this year. Instead, you should say that you want to lose 30 pounds in 12 months or one pound per week. Not only is this goal very specific, but it is also measurable. You can accurately gauge you success or failure simply by getting on the scale. Your goal also has to be something that you can reasonably accomplish in a timeframe that you set which is the T in SMART. Your goals should not be forever open ended. They should have a clear ending point that you can measure yourself against. And, finally, the R is is for results oriented goals or results based and relevant. Sticking to these five attributes when you construct your specific goals can help you to stick to them and your New Year’s Resolutions this year.

2. Write It Down And Post It Everywhere. One of the best pieces of advice that I ever received was to write down your goals and keep them where you can see them. I have a little post-it note attached to the corner of my bathroom mirror with my goals listed on them. I see them first thing every morning when I get up and get ready to go to work. It is a great reminder! You can also post things on your refrigerator like a First Grader. Or, I also have motivational quotes from Gary Vaynerchuk posted directly in my line of view in my office at work. It’s awesome!

3. Tell All Your Friends And Family. It is like having an accountability partner or even a workout partner in the gym. The more people who know about your New Year’s Resolutions and the goals that you want to accomplish will lead to you actually sticking when them. You do not want to let anyone down especially your close friends and family. That is why you should tell a lot of people your goals. Hopefully, they will keep asking you how you are doing with them. They can offer you words of encouragement that you need to accomplish you goals.

4. Start Small And Build. Like Dave Ramsey says…it is all about babysteps. You have to start small. We all have great grandiose ideas of New Year’s Resolutions and goals for ourselves, and to make matters worse we want to accomplish these goals right away. But, you have got to start small with your New Year’s Resolutions and goals and build to a big accomplishment. This does not mean that you cannot accomplish something extraordinary. You absolutely can do it, but it will take time. And, you may find that you have a better chance breaking your big goal down into small, more manageable chunks.

5. Do You Really Want It? You would think that this question would be a no brainer. Who would plan a New Year’s Resolution that they do not really want to accomplish. But, you’d be surprised. How many of us have felt the peer pressure whether real or imagined that makes us add goals to our lives that we have no intention of tackling. We have to be honest with ourselves when we make our New Year’s Resolutions. That’s the only way that we will ever have a prayer of keeping them.

6. Automate Your New Year’s Resolutions. This is a really easy way to keep your New Year’s Resolutions if they involve money. Do you want to pay off your debt? Or, are you looking at maximizing your Roth IRA contributions this year? Automating your debt repayment or investments from your paycheck to your bank account and then to the financial institution is the way to go. David Bach made this famous in his book, “The Automatic Millionaire“. You are much more likely to keep your New Year’s Resolutions like these if you make it automatic. The least amount that you have to come into contact with your money moves will be better. Like the infomercial says, set it and forget it.

7. Plan The Reward. What are you going to do when you accomplish your goal? What about sub-goals that lead you to your overall goal or New Year’s Resolutions? How are you going to reward yourself when you meet these goals? Just dreaming of how you are going to celebrate can keep you on the straight and narrow path and actually keep your New Year’s Resolutions this time.

8. Limit Your Number Of Resolutions. There is a reason that the United States Army is set up with a span of control of four. It is thought that a commander in the field can only really effectively control four direct subordinates at the most. That is one of the reasons behind each Battalion having about four Companies and each Company having about four platoons or so. The same is true with many things that we do or control. There is only so many things that we can devote our limited time and attention towards. Four is a really great number. Your number might be lower than that or even a little higher at five or six. But, you should definitely limit the amount of New Year’s Resolutions that you develop. Keep the number small and manageable.

9. Find What Your Excuse Is. I remember the speech that Ramit Sethi, the author of “I Will Teach You To Be Rich“, gave at FINCON12 this past September where he made the offhand comment about why he refused to go to the gym and workout. The story had something to do with him having to get up when it was early and cold to find clothes to wear. Instead he would simply roll back over and go to sleep leaving his workout for another day that never came. So, one day, he had an epiphany and decided to choose his workout clothes the night before, lay them out, and not spend several precious minutes in the cold looking for something to wear. Needless to say, it worked and he started working out again. It all comes down to finding the root of the reason for his excuse to not workout. All of our New Year’s Resolutions have the same detractor typically. What is keeping you from paying off your debt? Working out? Quitting smoking? It is probably something weird, small, insignificant, and easily overcome. It is getting to that root cause that is the hard part.

10. Don’t Bother Making Any. Do you want to know the easiest way to keep all of your New Year’s Resolutions? It is simple. It is just don’t bother to make any of them. That is the only sure fire way to keep them all and meet your goals. Everything else is a struggle, but I am willing to bet that it is a struggle that you want, need, and are willing to tackle. We all need goals in our lives. We all need something out on the horizon to reach towards. If we didn’t have them, what’s the point? These are the only ways that I know how to keep your New Year’s Resolutions.

How are you planning on keeping your New Year’s Resolutions this year? Are you even bothering to make New Year’s Resolutions? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below.

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About Hank Coleman

Hank Coleman is the founder of Money Q&A, an Iraq combat veteran, a Dr. Pepper addict, and a self-proclaimed investing junkie. He has written extensively for many nationally known financial websites and publications. Hank holds a Master’s Degree in Finance and is currently pursuing his Certified Financial Planner credentials. Email him directly at Hank[at]MoneyQandA.com.


Hank Coleman has written 524 articles on Money Q&A. Learn more about Money Q&A on Twitter @MoneyQandA and @HankColeman.


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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

John S @ Frugal Rules

Good ideas! I do not set New Year’s Resolutions as they’re often nebulous and people often fail at them. The goals I do set are throughout the year and follow the SMART goal system so it allows me to form a plan around what I am wanting to accomplish.
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TB at BlueCollarWorkman

There are some great tips in here. The two I like best are making smart goals…people do often make goals that are insane or vague–how on earth can someone accomplish something with no set parameters? So that’s a good tip, make smart resolutions! THe other I like is writing it down in places. My wife is big on using an erasable marker and writing goals on our bathroom mirror. When she reaches milestones she can erase them until the mirror is clear. She likes that pretty good!
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AverageJoe

#10 is awesome. These are great tips. Telling everyone is a sure-fire way to make sure you’ll follow through, especially if you’re externally motivated (like most). The last thing most people want is to look like a failure in front of their friends and colleagues.
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The College Investor

I’m a fan of telling friends and getting an accountability partner. This will really help you keep your resolution, especially if you have a partner to remind you over time.
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Gabriel

For 2013, part of my goal is to add up some money in our savings account. I am not getting any younger, it’s about time I work doubly hard to have a better retirement savings.
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