How To Make New Year’s Resolutions That Work!

January 1, 2024

life hacksby Gary Ryan Blair

New Year’s is the only holiday that celebrates the passage of time. Perhaps that’s why, as the final seconds of this year tick away, we become introspective. Inevitably, that introspection turns to thoughts of self-improvement and the annual ritual of making New Year’s Resolutions. New Year’s Resolutions offer the first of many important tools for remaking ourselves.

People the world over make New Year’s Resolutions. Often, what we vow to improve is some habit related to health, weight, exercise, occupation and income. You may think your successes or failures in this department are of no interest to the world at large. Not true. In fact, a whole branch of science—psychology—is devoted to behavior modification. And psychology tells us that there are five stages involved in turning resolutions into realities.

The Five Stages That Lead to Successful Resolutions

Pre-contemplation: The desire to change is vague. This is a good time to seek information and ask some important questions such as, “What risks am I running by going along just as I have been?”

Contemplation: Weigh the benefits of change. This is a time to get specific, to monitor behavior. For example, keep a record of how much you eat, drink, spend, etc.

Preparation: Begin making small changes. For example, you might give up some TV time and redirect your energy. Now’s the time to tell family and friends that the leopard is about to change his spots. This is the time to make a firm commitment.

The Action: Banish and sacrifice vices while embracing and committing to new virtues. At this point, give yourself all the help and support you can by creating a sense of accountability to others. Encourage family and friends to prod, provoke and push you.

Maintenance: This is the challenging part. You’re finished with your old habit and into your new life. It is a lot easier to maintain your resolution than it is to regain it. Do your self a monumental favor and stay focused on WHY you set this resolution in the first place!

Those who stay the course and fulfill their resolutions share these characteristics:

1. They believe in their ability to change.
2. They did not indulge in self-blame or excuse making.
3. They avoid wishful thinking and concentrate on results.
4. They understand their motivators and reasons why the resolution is important.

Resolution Guidelines

The most important investments require time. Setting and achieving a resolution requires focus, effort, and commitment. Changing old habits and developing new ones won’t happen overnight. The following four guidelines are meant to help you achieve all of your New Year’s Resolutions:

1. Focus on one resolution at a time. Divide and conquer the activities to achieve your desired results. Break larger tasks into smaller ones — each of these make up your Personal Resolution Roadmap, a path to achieve your goal.

2. Create a sense of accountability. Designate a friend, mentor, or companion for sharing successes, monitoring progress, and offering support. The benefit of involving others in your goals and plans is instant access to experience, knowledge, and wisdom— it also raises the bar of responsibility.

Research indicates that one of the qualities of those who are successful at making changes is that they have excellent support systems. Many of those who make resolutions never tell others about them. Consciously or subconsciously, that way if they fail no one will view them as a failure.

Communicating your resolution and intentions actually increases your accountability to the behavior. From the very beginning it is important to share your objectives and goals with those around you so that you can enlist their support. Knowing that you are accountable to someone other than yourself will help to keep you on track.

3. Persist until completed. A resolution achieved is a stunning example of consistency and hard work. If you fall behind schedule or are sidetracked for any reason, refocus! Just don’t give up! Don’t surrender to temptation, difficulty or temporary failure. Persist until you achieve the goal.

4. Cultivate personal integrity. Integrity gives you the oxygen needed to cross the finish line of accomplishment. Your commitment determines your level of success. This commitment boils down to two essential tactics: daily action and review.

Resolution Beginnings

The nuts and bolts of achieving any resolution are invariably the same. Neither the size of the resolutions nor the person achieving it matters. Successful New Year’s Resolutions consist of the following:

Clear Purpose — For a dream to become a goal, it must be specific. Being thin is an image, losing 10 pounds by March 1 is a true resolution. Be clear on what you want to achieve.

Make a New Year’s Resolution that you have a real, bona fide intention of keeping. The truth is most people have not made a genuine, serious, no-kidding-around-I-really-mean-to-do-this New Year’s Resolution!

In Writing — Describe precisely what you want, how you will earn it, when you will have it, and the benefits you’ll receive from achieving your resolution. Write the details, but don’t make it complex. When you put it in writing, you increase your chances of moving to the next step and increasing your level of commitment.

Your mind, while blessed with permanent memory, is cursed with lousy recall. Writing your resolution goes a long way towards achieving it.

Commitment — Without commitment, you can say, “Farewell dream. Adios potential. Toodleloo success. Hello Mediocrity!” Your resolution will find a more deserving soul: someone with courage, character, conviction… commitment.

Commitment is not only habitual but also essential — it moves you ever closer to your resolution and ultimate success. Commitment is the heartbeat of your goal.

Accountability Counts — commitment means you own it. You are responsible for taking the resolution that’s on paper and turning it into a desired outcome. Owning it means tasking responsibility for changes, risks, failures, and successes.

Creating Your Resolution List

Write down your list of New Year’s Resolutions. Get them all out of your head and down on paper.











Focus, Focus, Focus!

Does one resolution stand out? One that you are ready to go after. Focus on this one; you can replicate the process later.

My #1 Resolution is:________________________________________________________


Congratulations on your decision. This focus is critical to moving forward.

Resolution Validation

Next, validate your chosen resolution’s importance. For each question below, ask yourself if you’re getting a green - go, yellow — caution, or red - stop signal.

If a caution or stop signal pops into your head, stop to ask why. It might mean that this resolution isn’t the right one to be focusing on. The validation test will keep you motivated as you continue on your resolution road trip.

If the validation questions show you that this is the wrong resolution for now, start over. Return to your original list, and work through the process once again. It is wiser to focus on the right resolution than to start one you’re not committed to.

Write down what comes to mind as you read through each question. These notes will serve as a motivational tool for you when you are in the middle of your resolution plan.

Is This Resolution Part of My Personal Mission?

Does this resolution align with my mission? How?



How does this resolution align with my values?



How will this resolution bring me closer to living my mission?



Is This Resolution Really Me?

Is this resolution authentic?___________________________________________________


Can I envision myself accomplishing this goal?____________________________________


Is it a habit that I can incorporate into my life?______________________________________


Am I The Owner of This Resolution?

Is this MY goal? ____________________________________________________________


How can I take complete ownership of this resolution?



Is This Resolution In My Control?

Is this a resolution I can actually achieve? ________________________________________


Is it within my control or someone else’s?_________________________________________


What do I control about this resolution? __________________________________________


What do I not control?________________________________________________________


How Will This Resolution Stretch Me?

Is this a resolution that will make me grow?_______________________________________


How will it help me learn new things? ___________________________________________


By investing your efforts in each of the five stages that lead to successful resolutions, you give yourself a launch pad for starting your new year and your new life.

I wish for you a New Year of health, wealth, and happiness. A year in which you give yourself many gifts to include the gifts of love, patience, and faith. I encourage you to pursue your resolutions with open arms and to believe deeply in your ability to enjoy the rewards of resolutions and dreams achieved.

Everything Counts!

Gary Ryan Blair

Contact us by email or by calling 1-877-GOALSGUY if you have any questions or suggestions.

Gary Ryan Blair is the inspiration behind New Year’s Resolution Week. This annual event was founded on the premise, that a single resolution can positively and profoundly create lasting change in your life and help to make the world a better place. To become part of the world’s largest personal change initiative, visit

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3 Responses to “How To Make New Year’s Resolutions That Work!”

  1. jen_chan, writer on January 4th, 2008 7:52 am

    Perhaps we don’t give ourselves enough time to contemplate on our resolutions. Most of the people I know, myself included, like to make a list of things to improve on. By actually reflecting on one specific resolution, we get a better sense of why we’re doing it in the first place and better motivation as well.

  2. Kevin Donlin on January 4th, 2008 10:39 am

    Very good stuff. One thing I learned from Brian Tracy re: setting and achieving goals is to write out your Top 10 Llst of goals every morning. This reinforces what you’re after, because your goals get imprinted more deeply on your subconscious when you write and read them. And doing this every morning is a great way to set your course for the day and start off motivated.

  3. D. White on January 11th, 2008 12:29 am

    Your ideas are in line with what I have done naturally for the past few years of my life. I do not use the word resolution. I find that goals works better for me. I have kept more of my goals than resolutions. I do not know why the word change worked. I did this a couple of years ago during a difficult time in my life. I wrote down what I wanted to achieve. I broke down the goal into sections. I planned and worked things out.
    It has been my style ever since.
    This is a confirmation that I am on point.

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