While fad diets and self-improvement trends come and go with every passing season, setting resolutions for the new year is a 4000-year-old tradition that dates all the way back to ancient Babylon. If there's another human custom just as old, it has to be our habit of letting New Year's resolutions fall to the wayside as the year goes on. Here are a few tips to help ensure you stick to your goals all through 2024.

Focus on Specific Actions You Will Take, Not General Outcomes That You Want

It’s tempting to structure your resolutions in the simplest terms of what you want to change about yourself. Declarations like “I will lose 30 pounds,” “I will cut back on drinking” or “I’ll improve my relationship with my mother,” are all common resolutions. While each of these examples is a worthy goal, none are particularly useful when it comes to execution. Instead, it’s helpful to structure your resolutions around the “how” of your goal, not the “what.” Rather than declaring that you’ll lose weight, resolve that you’ll stop buying soda and start going to the gym twice a week. Rather than resolving to cut back on booze, resolve to only purchase one bottle of wine per month and avoid all venues serving alcohol. Rather than vaguely intending to be closer to your mother, set the goal of calling her once a week at a specific time. By structuring your resolutions around actions rather than outcomes, you’ll always know exactly what you need to do to make progress toward your goal.


Don't Spread Yourself Too Thin

Setting new, ambitious goals for yourself feels great when you’re writing down your list of resolutions in December. By the time mid-January rolls around, many people find themselves overwhelmed by the commitments they have made. A failure to keep one resolution spills over into another, and before you know it the person has given up on all their goals entirely. That’s why restraint is key when it comes to choosing your resolutions. It’s better to see just one or two New Year’s goals come to fruition than it is to have fifteen resolutions that all implode before Labor Day.


Share Them or Keep Them a Secret—Depending on Your Personality

There’s an interesting divide in self-improvement theory when it comes to sharing your New Year’s resolutions with others. Some research shows that telling others about your intentions helps hold you accountable and improves your chances of success. Other research, however, shows that some people feel such a sense of satisfaction from sharing their goals aloud, they then lose the drive to actually follow through. Think back on past intentions and try to discern whether involving others in your plans really helped you achieve them. If so, then great: make your New Year’s resolution a fun way to connect with your friend group. At the end of the day, however, you and only you can truly hold yourself accountable to your goals.

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