Write New Year’s resolutions that won’t make you feel like a failure

If you’ve read about at least one study on New Year’s resolutions, then you know there’s no point in setting them. The researchers are merciless in breaking the news to us: Most of us will fail to achieve those resolutions. Part of the problem seems to be how we choose them in the first place.

We asked two experts how to do a better job at writing down and executing your goals year-round.


Erika Westhoff
Erika Westhoff

Look at your list and remove any items that are not 100 percent controllable.


Come up with a list of up to 10 possible resolutions and think carefully about each potential change you want to make.


Look at your list and remove any items that are not 100 percent controllable (weight loss is controllable, a job promotion is not).

Write your ‘why’

Why is this important to you? What is your greater purpose for your goal? Is it just for you? Is it for better health and a longer life? Challenge yourself to write a page for each potential resolution. Dig deep here; after all, you’re considering a yearlong commitment.  Put this somewhere you can reread it often to help keep you on track over 12 months.

Be realistic

Is it more realistic for you to go to the gym three days per week for a year OR create a new way of eating? Either could lead to the same outcome, but which strategy is more doable for you given your lifestyle?

Schedule and execute

It takes a few weeks to build new habits. Periodically check in and set new mini-goals to keep you progressing.

—  Erika Westhoff, certified mental coach who teaches professional athletes (including NFL) to perform under pressure by taking control over their thoughts and emotions.


Be Kind

Nike has been telling us for a few decades to “Just Do It.” We could add, “but be nice about it.” You don’t have to beat yourself up to get moving or to eat healthy every day. Maintain a cheerful “You’ve got this” attitude, and give yourself a pat on the back when your workout is over or when you’ve made a great meal choice.

Keep it light

Being too serious about your new resolutions can sap the joy out of January. Laugh at your mistakes. Cheer yourself on. The last thing you need is to get stressed about your resolutions.

Cara Bradley

Maintain a cheerful “You’ve got this” attitude.

Don’t judge

Your body feels different from day to day. Some days you may rock and roll, other days you may only crawl. Acknowledge your highs and lows. Negative self-talk drains your energy.

Cara Bradley, author of “On The Verge: Wake Up, Show Up, and Shine,” a former pro skater and the founder of Verge BodyMind Center in Philadelphia.

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