Tips for setting New Year’s resolutions and sticking to them

It’s the first month of the new year, and as always, lots of people are coming up with New Year’s resolutions to improve themselves mentally, spiritually, and physically. The problem is far too many people give up on their New Year’s resolution after a month or two, and sometimes sooner. Studies show that 23% of people quit their resolution by the end of the first week, and 43% quit by the end of January.

United Way of Greater St. Louis has been able to help so many people over the years because we value commitment and steadfast dedication to the communities we serve by being persistent about the goals we set for ourselves and making sure we carry them out.  You can be the same way with your personal goals.

As we begin the new year, we put together a guide on how to help people strive to achieve the things they want this year whether it be volunteering, finding local charities to support and donate to, getting connected to a peer group through one of United Way’s Leadership Societies, etc.

Here are some tips to help you formulate and stick to your plan.

Start as soon as you can

When United Way identifies a problem in the community, we do our best to take immediate steps towards addressing the problem. This could be a great principle to apply to your personal life.

One of the biggest problems is people think of great ways to improve themselves in November or December, but tell themselves that they’ll start doing it at the beginning of the new year. A lot of times, by the time the new year starts, they may have forgotten that they made that goal for themselves or maybe they remember, but they’re less enthusiastic about it.  When you come up with a goal that you think can really help you improve your life, take steps to start reaching that goal immediately and accelerate those efforts as the new year begins. Procrastination is one of the biggest things to avoid.

Be realistic

Don’t set a resolution that you know deep down will take you five years or maybe even longer. Doing that will make it even harder to stick to. Be honest with yourself, nail down a goal that you truly believe is reasonable to attain within a year and then pursue it relentlessly.

Seek counsel

Maybe see a therapist, counselor, or mentor to figure out your what, why and how. What do you hope to accomplish by the end of the year, why you want to accomplish it, and how you will go about doing it. United Way partners with nonprofit organizations that help people with goals ranging from how to maintain financial stability, how to take care of your physical and mental wellness, and so much more.

Going forward, have those people you look to for support hold you accountable, offering you positive reinforcement and constructive criticism when needed.

Evaluate yourself weekly

It is important to constantly check in on yourself to make sure you’re making progress towards your goal. At the end of each week, you should examine yourself and see what steps you have taken to achieve it. If you see that you have made good progress, determine what you can do to build off that progress the next week. If you see that you have been lackadaisical with making progress, make a promise to yourself that you’ll do everything you can to refocus next week.

Reward yourself

Giving yourself positive reinforcement is key to keeping you enthused. Halfway through the year, conduct a self-assessment of your overall progress, if you can see that you’re on the right track, reward yourself for your diligence. Treat yourself to a vacation from work or enjoy one of your favorite hobbies. This will give you the fuel you need to keep going. But it’s important to not be too satisfied yet, you still have six more months to go. You’re almost there, finish strong!

Take action now:

Rodney Humphries
Rodney Humphries