You can make your new years resolutions successful by doing three easy things. If you set resolutions now or at another time of the year, chances are you want to succeed at achieving them. Yet sometimes things get in the way which means you don’t, despite well-meaning efforts you made. This happens a lot. It has happened to me.

I want to share these three things as it’s not any kind of secret, but I notice a lot of people often don’t follow them. They’re important as it’s about laying the foundation for a resolution which will help you get what you want for yourself and your life this year.

Note: For some people the word ‘resolution’ really grates. Use the word that works for you. Goal. Objective. Intention. Possibility. Something else. I’m going to use the word resolution. Also, some people don’t set resolutions at New Year’s. That’s fine. What I write here applies at any time of the year.

Here are the three easy things to do to make your new year’s resolutions successful #change #wellness #newyearsresolution Share on X

The first thing to do to make your new years resolutions successful

Focus on what you want instead of what you don’t want

When we want to do, think or feel something different, we often phrase it as

I don’t want…

There is a focus on what we don’t want or what we want to lose. Understandable. It’s a good starting point.

You need to balance that by also focusing on what you want instead.

Because when you take something away – i.e. what you don’t want to be doing – putting something in its place will help you know what to focus on.

If you don’t do this, you can end up focusing your energies on what you no longer want rather than moving towards what you do want. And this is when people tend to give up.

A woman is sitting reading on a yellow sofa and wondering, 'I know what I don't want, but what do I want? I want to be more focused so my intentions needs to be specific.' The caption reads - What do you want for yourself this year? The point is that if we know what we want and we create specific actions to achieve that, then those actions help to make your new years resolutions successful

Here’s an example

Not be so critical of myself.

That’s a very common new year resolution. The danger is leaving it like that. You risk just saying, ‘Don’t be so critical of yourself!’ when you notice yourself being self-critical. You end up criticising yourself for being self-critical. Not helpful.

Think about what you want to be doing instead and include specific behaviours

To make your new years resolutions successful you can reword them to include specific behaviours of what you will be doing differently. For example:

When I notice myself being self-critical, I will tell myself, ‘Oh hey, there I go again.’ I will also smile as a way of showing myself self-compassion.

The second thing to do to make your new years resolutions successful

Figure out how you will incorporate what you want to do into your daily routine

This is important. So many people don’t think about this up front. They may have the resolution to ‘get fit’, they get a gym membership, go to the gym after work, do this for a few weeks in January, then stop because at the end of the work day they are so tired and just want to veg out in front of the tv. Or they have kids to put to bed.

If you give a bit of thought as to what action you can take and when during your day, it can help you figure out if your resolution is realistic. Or do you need to adapt it in some way so it is more achievable for you.

For example, I learned that I either have to live close to a gym, less than a mile walk, or I have to have a mini gym in my house. As I don’t live close to a gym, I opted for the mini gym in the house.

Picture of exercise equipment including a yoga mat, resistance bands, weights, a stepper, foam roller and Fit with Frank online bootcamp videos. Exercise and physiotherapy can help you move on from the depression about your illness or injury.

It is also a trial and error process. I learned I have to work out first thing in the morning after waking up and before any coffee or breakfast. The workout gets the highest priority. If I do that, the workout gets done.

Be open to trial and error

If it doesn’t work out the first time, don’t give up. Just find another way. You will eventually land on a way that works for you.

Remember, when you were a baby, you didn’t walk perfectly or eat well with a spoon the first time you attempted it. It probably too you several weeks to months to learn.

This is an original quote by Return To Wellness: "When you start to make a change, be open to learning and that it will be a trial and error process. Remember, you didn't eat with a spoon or walk perfectly the first time you attempted it as a baby." The point of this is to be gentle with yourself and to watch any tendencies towards holding yourself to your pre-illness or injury high standards or to be perfect. This will help you make your new years resolutions successful

The third thing to do to make your new years resolutions successful

Make your resolution specific

The other thing we often don’t do is make the goal specific. Let’s go back to the examples we used previously.

Not be so critical of myself.


When I notice myself being self-critical, I will tell myself, ‘Oh hey, there I go again.’ I will also smile as a way of showing myself self-compassion.

The first one feels kind of big. When something feels big, it can sometimes feel overwhelming. Too big to start making a change.

But when you break the resolution down into smaller actions, it can feel so much more do-able and manageable. That’s a key ingredient to make your new years resolutions successful.

The second resolution above is a good example of that. It outlines specific things the person will do so she is no longer so critical of herself.

Keep your actions small

Specific actions are naturally smaller actions and these help you make your new years resolutions successful.

I was working with carers not long ago and a common goal they often have is to get fit. When we broke that goal down, taking more exercise became an important component. But the carers were worried whether they would actually take the time to exercise. So I said do it for 5 minutes at the start. That’s all.

When I re-introduced exercise back into my life in 2018, the first routine I did was 6 minutes long. That’s it. Since then, I’ve slowly built up the amount of time I exercise.  I dropped a dress size in the past year, my body shape has changed, and my cardio function has improved.

These are the benefits of keeping your resolutions small

Specific actions are naturally smaller actions and these help you make your new years resolutions successful.

A small (tiny even) action enables you to get started. Getting started is important.

It’s easier to take smaller action as it may not take as much time. So you’re more likely to keep taking the action(s) which makes it easier to build habits. Habits are good for lasting change.

Smaller actions allow you to work to a pace you are capable of and comfortable with given everything else going on in your life. It may mean change happens more slowly, but chances are much greater it will be long lasting change.

There are important benefits to keeping your #NewYearsResolutions small. Read about them here #change #wellness Share on X

There is another reason why specific and small actions are important

When you or a loved one is dealing with a challenging health issue, you are dealing with some big changes. And all you want is to get your life back and feel like yourself again.

It can feel overwhelming. My clients have said this to me. I have personally experienced this.

Specific and small actions help you to not pile expectations onto yourself. But to take things at a gentler pace.

Small is good, achievable and gentle.

The caption of this picture reads: Small and specific actions help you to be gentle with yourself. A woman is standing and looking contended at a table. On the table are three actions. Go to yoga class once a week. Walk at lunch three times a week. Go out with a friend once a week. The woman is thinking, "Having just a few small actions this year feels much more possible to do." Small and specific actions will make your new years resolutions successful

What’s it like for you?

What do you think will help you to make your new years resolutions successful? What has worked in the past for you? Share your thoughts or questions in the comments below or alternatively email them to me (contact form in sidebar).  

If you are living with a challenging health issue or are caring for someone who is, and would like support on any of the issues discussed here, have a look at how we can work together and get in touch for a free no obligation consultation.

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© Copyright Barbara Babcock 2020

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