How to Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions (The 7 Secrets)

written by Dan Silvestre
Goal Setting

how to keep your new year's resolutions

Don’t know how to keep your New Year’s resolutions? You’re definitely not alone.

I know I’ve been there.

Every January, many of us start with big dreams, only to see them fade away.

Getting fit. Saving for that dream trip. Chasing career goals.

You and I have aspirations that feel more attainable as the calendar resets. But as we all know, keeping these resolutions is easier said than done.

You’re not alone — a staggering 92% of people fail to achieve their New Year’s resolutions.

But let’s focus on the 8% who succeed. What do they do differently?

I’ve uncovered 7 secrets, including one surprisingly simple yet transformative approach.

Let’s shift the odds in your favor.

Together, let’s make this YOUR year.

It’s time to end the cycle of broken New Year’s resolutions and embark on a journey of real transformation

#1 Focus on One Resolution

If you’re anything like me, you get carried away with your New Year’s resolutions. And before long, you’ve got a pretty long list of things you want to do in the new year.

Lose weight. Eat more vegetables. Maybe do some more volunteer work. Spend more time with family.

All noble goals.

But if you try to do everything at the same time, it will end in chaos. You’re simply trying to do too much at once.

Instead, pick your most important goal. Start your year working on that one resolution. Focus all your energy on it until it becomes a habit.

For big goals, it’s helpful to break them down into smaller sub-goals. Think of checkpoints that you can use to measure your progress (more on this later).

Establishing a new habit can take between 18 and 254 days. Only move to your second New Year’s resolution whenever you feel it’s already second nature. It doesn’t matter if it’s day 21, 43, or 180. Take as long as you need.

#2 Set an End Goal

how to keep your new year's resolutions set an end goal

We love completing things. There isn’t quite a feeling like knowing you’ve arrived at your destination.

One of the most common mistakes when setting New Year’s resolutions is not setting an end goal. If you don’t know where you’re going, how do you know you’ve achieved your goal?

So put some skin in the game.

Want to grow your business? Put some money on the line and join a mastermind.

Want to get in shape? Sign up for a half-marathon in the spring.

This gives you both a reason to work on your New Year’s resolution as well as an end goal.

#3 Put the Focus on Habits

Goals are your end destination. Habits are the journey that will help you achieve your end goal. They are the roadmap.

Ever set a resolution to “Exercise more”, take two or three long runs, and then forget about it? Then you know what I’m talking about.

To win your New Year’s resolutions this year, pair your end goal with a habit.

Want to run a marathon in the spring? Run for at least ten minutes every day.

Want to write a book this year? Write for at least 10 minutes a day.

What’s the habit that you need to do to achieve your goal? There could be more than one. Brainstorm habits and pick the one that you’ll find easier to stick with.

The next thing you have to do to join the 8% is show up consistently.

Know this:

The beginning of every new habit is the hardest part. It takes patience and faith. And this is where most people give up. They assume the struggle is forever.

Why is it so hard to stay resolute on a New Year’s resolution? Because motivation is finite.

Motivation is when you’re so emotionally invested in the process that the outcome ceases to become important.

Find a habit that you love doing every day.

And one more tip:

Use motivational reminders. Put a picture of a slimmer you on the fridge. Make your desktop background your dream destination.

Cheesy? Maybe. But it works.

#4 Start with Small Steps

Because the New Year brings us newfound motivation and energy, we start big. The first time we go out running, we go all out for an hour. Or we completely overhaul our entire diet.

Instead, start small.


In the beginning, you’re only trying to make the habit stick. Minimize the struggle. Start with 10 minutes. Make it easier to get started until it becomes natural.

Commit to running just 10 minutes every day. And then slowly build it up to an hour.

Change just one meal in the first month. And after a few weeks, tackle another element of your diet. For example: reduce portion size or eat out less often.

​Small steps​ lead to success.

And don’t beat yourself up if you miss a day. Happens to the best of us. Start again the next day. Try not to skip two days in a row – that’s the beginning of a new habit of not doing it!

#5 Set Your Environment for Success

Your environment plays a major role when trying to develop new habits. To set yourself up for success, design your environment to encourage good habits – or prevent bad ones​.

For example:

Want to eat healthier? Know that your diet starts at the supermarket. Stock your fridge and pantry with healthy food to make it a default.

Want to run every day? Place your shoes and equipment next to your bed or front door ready to go.

Shawn Achor, the author of “The Happiness Advantage”, wanted to start practicing guitar daily. But it was hard to get started and he couldn’t motivate himself to do it.

So he placed the guitar in the center of the living room. It was always on display and ready to be grabbed for a little practice. After that subtle change, Shawn practiced guitar for 21 days straight without exception.

That’s the power of our environment. And if we become smarter in how we design it, we can make better decisions​ in everyday life.

#6 Track Your Progress

how to keep your new year's resolutions track your progress

Pick a metric you can track for your habit.

If you want to write daily, you can track the number of words written. For weight loss, you can track the number of healthy meals. For running, number of minutes.

Numbers give us objectivity.

They also give us a feedback loop. Numbers don’t lie: either you’re doing it or not. You’re confronted with the truth.

I use a spreadsheet to track the progress of my New Year’s resolutions. Then, during my ​GTD Weekly Review​, I quickly scan this spreadsheet.

#7 Create a Failure Action Plan

In “​26 Marathons​”, Meb Keflezighi writes that for every marathon he ran, he had multiple goals.

For example:

  1. Winning the race
  2. Finishing in a personal best time
  3. Making the podium
  4. Finishing strong even if off the podium

This allowed him to adjust his expectations as the race went on.

We can do the same for our New Year’s resolutions.

Think of sub-goals you’d be happy to achieve even if you failed your main goal. This way, you’ll find more things to celebrate along the way.

For example:

Your main goal is to lose 30 lbs.

Your sub-goals could be:

  1. Lose 25 lbs
  2. Change to a healthy dinner
  3. Eat healthier snacks
  4. Walk 10,000 steps for a month
  5. Do 16-8 intermittent fasting
  6. Lose 10 lbs

These act as mini-goals for your main goal. They make sure you’re on track to achieve your big goal.

Finally, have a contingency plan. What are you going to do if you slip up? A plan to adapt your approach is a plan to learn from your mistakes. Think of them as learning opportunities about yourself.

To Your New Year’s Resolutions

The New Year is upon us.

Don’t let the mistakes of the past ruin your New Year’s resolutions. Remember: at the end of the day, any improvement is better than none at all.

We’re all trying to be the best version we can be. Your resolutions are just a means to an end.

To keep your New Year’s resolutions this year:

  1. Focus on one resolution
  2. Set an end goal
  3. Put the focus on habits
  4. Start with small steps
  5. Set your environment for success
  6. Track your progress
  7. Create a failure action plan

Do all seven and I’ll guarantee you’ll conquer your New Year’s resolutions this year.

Happy New Year!

Tags:: New Year

Thanks for reading!

You can get more actionable ideas in my popular email newsletters.
Enter your email now and join us!