How to make new year’s resolutions stick in 2023

How to make new year’s resolutions stick?

About 59% young adults (18-34-year olds) set new year’s resolutions every year.

Do you know how many people actually succeed in achieving their new year’s resolutions?

Only 9%.

Keep reading if you want to be one of those 9% people.

Why do new year’s resolutions fail?

But first let’s talk about the main reason on why new year’s resolutions fail. According to recent statistics, losing motivation is the primary driving force leading people to give up too early. The worst part is that action always precedes motivation and not the other way around. Knowing something is good for you if you do it is not the same as willingness to do it. Have you ever heard the phrase, showing up is always the hardest. Getting the ball rolling is the most difficult. Once you take the first step, everything snowballs from there and you actually feel good after doing the task.

What to do when you feel a lack of motivation which happens more than we care to admit.

All these 3 ideas are from the New York Times bestseller – Atomic Habits by James Clear. You need to read that book if you haven’t already.

  1. Use Habit stacking. It is a technique to pair a new habit with an old one. Performing the old habit let’s say brushing your teeth is ingrained in you. Take advantage of that and stack your new habit before or after your old one.
    • It would look something like, “I will read 1 page of a book after I brush my teeth.” Easy.
  1. Make it so that taking the first step to doing the new habit is effortless. Remove any distractions or roadblocks to starting that habit every day. Say you want to read 10 books in a year. Start with reading for 2 minutes every day. Make it obvious. Have the book by your nightstand. Read it for 2 minutes and then you can stop. Most often than not, you won’t stop after the two minutes are up.
  2. And then the opposite of that. Add difficulties in the path of doing the bad habit. Want to spend less time on your phone? Add a focus or downtime. Use accountability. Something that will pinch. If you do the bad habit, you need to deposit $50 in a jar. Make it hard.

Now if you ask do new year’s resolutions work?

I would say they do work if you do. Every good thing demands some (or a lot of) effort. New year’s resolutions or goals in general help us map out a path to what kind of person we want to be or what kind of a life do we envision for ourselves. They give you the purpose you need to move forward on that path.

How to set new year’s resolutions that stick?

If setting goals and making them stick was that simple, everybody would be doing it. But it takes a lot of reiterations to know how to set goals/new year’s resolutions that you can actually keep.

Set SMART goals

how to make new year's resolutions stick

A goal without a plan is just a wish. Setting better, smarter goals is the most important step to making your new year’s resolutions stick. Not only will this strategy bridge the gap between your chances of success and failure, but they will also provide you with the metrics to access and close that gap.


Avoid generic statements like:

  • I want to make more money.
  • I want to be healthy.
  • I want to be better.

What does that even mean? Be healthy? How to you plan to achieve it? How much money is more money? How do you define healthy?

We all have a different definition about what it means to be healthy or what it means to have more money. Thus, it is super important to clearly and realistically define what that goal means for you.


  • I want to make more money → I will set aside $100 every month.
  • I want to be healthy → I will not eat junk food on weekends.
  • I want to be better → I will meditate every day for 7 minutes.

Get super specific like

  • I will set aside $100 every month on the 3rd of every month. Or you could set up an automation.

It’s difficult to break a super specific commitment than a generic one.


habit tracker

Track your progress. It will push you to be at your best behavior. For some people it helps keep them motivated.

It allows you to focus on what matters the most and work out a plan to achieve that rather than focusing on unnecessary metrics. It also allows you to reevaluate your goals when you don’t achieve them.

If you goal is to have more money. You need to define how much money you want. For example, I want to have an extra $20,000 by the year end. So, cross a date off on the calendar each time you set aside $100.

This way you can break the ultimate goal into smaller actionable steps and create systems that will set you up for success. For example, saving $100 every month will give you an additional $1200 dollars at the end of the year. Then you could create systems around how to achieve the rest of the $8800.

However, if you won’t measure, how will you know how much is enough?


In order to set yourself up for success, avoid making resolutions that are unattainable for where you are currently.

You don’t go and pick up the heaviest weights on the first day of the gym. You slowly raise the bar so that each set of weight lift is attainable judging by your current body strength. Similarly, life experiences give you strength, however they do take time to assimilate into our thought process.

The disappointment in the long term will hinder you to actually set goals and become a better person. Why would you not set yourself for success instead of failure? Your goals should be just the right amount of challenging and achievable. Or as John Doerr says aggressive and yet realistic, measurable and verifiable.

Making a million dollars by the end of the year would be somewhat of a stretch for someone who is struggling to pay the bills. But making an extra $1000 by the end of year is attainable.


Your goals should be relevant to what kind of person you want to be in life or where do you see yourself in life. Consciously choose the high value tasks that will give you the majority of the return. Not only will this put you ahead of most people, but it will allow you to clear up the fluff and focus your time and effort on things that will move the needle.


Think about it, an hour of scrolling on Instagram seems nothing to us, but an hour of reading a book is too much work. We binge watch entire seasons on Netflix, but we can’t take 10 minutes to devote to our meditation.

sand clock

A deadline is what transforms a mere wish into a goal. Without a time-limit on your goal, you won’t have the sense of urgency and you wouldn’t put any extra effort into achieving your goals. You’ll always find more important things to do, and your resolution will just get shifted to the back burner.

Audit your goals and actions from time to time. One most important thing is to not wait till the end of year to reevaluate what’s working and what’s not for reaching your goal endpoint. All successful people do weekly, monthly and yearly audits. Some even do daily ones. Let’s take this advice out of their lives and start applying in our own.

How to make new year’s resolutions stick

Is setting the appropriate goal really enough to achieve it?

Without knowing how to accomplish and make these new year’s resolutions stick, we are leading down the path blindly.

Use the fresh start effect to your advantage

weekly planner

Have you ever felt a surge in your motivation at the start of a new year or a new week or on your birthday’s? You are not alone. Studies call it the “fresh start effect”.

People generally have a higher probability of engaging in positive behaviors following a significant landmark. This is seen as higher gym visits, higher google searches about diet during the start of the new year, new month or new week.

What this effect does is that we are able to separate ourselves from our past failures or imperfections and focus entirely on achieving our goals. Not only this, but following crucial landmarks in our life, we tend to take a step back from the daily routine and look at the bigger picture to overcome the lack of motivation and self-control that seems to be limiting us.

Using the fresh start effect to our advantage can be the secret to making your new year’s resolutions stick throughout the year. Learning how to make new year’s resolutions stick is a process and adopting these habits will surely steer you in the direction of achieving your goals.

Stop demanding perfection from everything you do

perfect bullseye

Another thing that is consequential and leads to major disappointments in our resolutions is demanding perfection. My fellow Virgos will agree that perfection will hold us back most often than not. There is a time to whip out the detail-oriented side of you but doing the work to achieve your goals is not that time. You’ll be bad at something, before you get good at it. But if you won’t ever be bad at it, you might as well say goodbye to being good at it.

“Anything worth doing is worth doing badly.”

– G. K. Chesterton

You might have heard people on diet say “Oh my diet plan is ruined” after they eat a pizza. No, your diet plan was not ruined. It was just one day. You can continue your plans for the rest of the month and that one day won’t matter when you make overall healthier choices for the rest if the month.

Some day’s you’ll only be able to do 10% to contribute and somedays a 100% and there will be other days between. What matters is staying consistent. That’s what will set you up for success.

Try to gain something instead of losing

Instead of losing something this year, try to rephrase your words to want more of something.

  • Lose fat → Gain more muscle and strength.
  • Lose people over arguments → Gain more boundaries.
  • Lose sleep by waking up early → Gain an extra hour of sleep by going to bed early.

You might have already noticed the significant mindset shift that occurs just by rephrasing our words. It makes you want to do all those things.

It is always only a matter of perspective.

This year aim not to lose your old self in lieu of becoming a better person. Aim to gain positive and productive habits and you’ll feel all the difference.

Related post: If your goal is to have an organized space, here’s how to reclaim your space

Cultivate daily habits to support your goals.

When I was little every year, I would spend time and effort to write down my goals and every January or February, I would tear them in frustration. Turns out, I was doing it all wrong.

I would set generic new year’s resolutions with no plan of action on how and by when I wanted to achieve them. This led to disappointment and giving up and feeling as if I was not good enough. But turns out I was approaching the situation in a wrong way.

The thing that will set you up for success is breaking down the goal into a daily habit.

Goal: Want to lose weight? → Habit: Cook at home 6x a week and do yoga for 20 minutes every day.

By doing this you are showing up as the version of yourself that you want to be and soon enough you will be. You don’t succeed because you do something once a month. You succeed because you do it every day. You can achieve anything that you put your mind to.

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.”

– Will Durant

One goal → Multiple habits

3 habits per goal

Understanding that it would take multiple daily habits to achieve a goal is crucial.

If you want to make more money, let’s say, only saving a particular dollar amount will not help you achieve that. You would want to invest some of the money to take advantage of the compound interest over the years and you might even have to take up a side hustle.

One goal might be a good starting point, but the real difference will come from what you put in daily towards that goal.

I usually have 3 habits per the goal that I want to achieve.

My new year’s resolutions and how to achieve them?

Let’s break down my new year’s resolution for 2022, which was to improve my sleep schedule.

  1. First, I stopped having coffee after 2pm. Hard no. Yes, there were days when I was going out in the evening, so I used to have coffee. Slowly, I started shifting towards ordering tea.
  2. Second, I used down time in my phone. At 10pm most of my apps including all social media and other unnecessary apps would have a sleep timer on until the next morning. Let any family member set a password for when you do want to open the app. Having someone to keep you accountable usually work wonders.
  3. Third, at bedtime, I started reading books in ambient light for at least 10 minutes. I’m not usually able to put down my book after 10 minutes of reading so sometimes that would go on up till 30 minutes.

Result of doing all this for almost a year:

  • Better sleep quality.
  • Easier to fall asleep.
  • No anxiety before bed because my phone is on downtime.

Stop comparing yourself to other people.


We all know that. We hear that every other day. The only person you should compare yourself is who you were yesterday. I was listening to a TED TALK by Jordan Peterson and he said something very interesting regarding this which was that there is hardly anyone like you out there. With your childhood, your interests, your life experiences, your priorities and your life trajectory. There is virtually no one. I strongly agree with him on this stance.

Set a high aim and then break it into steps so you know what the next step is. Only compare yourself to who you were yesterday. The next step should be a little bit out of your comfort zone, yet you should have a reasonable probability of achieving that.

Related post: Self-care practices for when you feel overwhelmed

Success is not defined by whether you have the talent or skill to do something, but by whether you have the mindset to do it every day.

The only thing standing between you and your goals is your approach to break them into manageable steps. These decisions if taken correctly, will improve the odds of you succeeding in the long run.

Make marginal improvements along the way to improve the odds of achieving these simple steps. Hope these practical steps serve as a guide for how to make your new year’s resolutions stick.

Drop in the comments what are your resolutions for the year 2023 and how do you plan to achieve them.

Penny for your thoughts?