10 Tips for Keeping New Year's Resolutions

Many people make New Year's Resolutions, but keeping them is a much more exclusive group. This year, stop the cycle of resolving to make a change, but then not following through. A resolution to take control of managing inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and its effects can have a lasting effect all year and lead to improved understanding of the disease and its effects. Use these 10 tips to get you started.


Be Realistic

Yoga Fitness Stretching Class

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One thing about being able to achieve goals is that they need to be realistic. Goals can certainly be ambitious, but remind yourself not to try for something that's too far afield or unrealistic. The surest way to fall short of your goal is to make your goal unattainable. For instance, resolving to never eat a favorite food again because it's problematic for IBD could be a bad choice for a New Year's resolution. Strive for a goal that is attainable, such as avoiding that problem food more often.


Plan Ahead

New Year's Eve probably isn't the best time to start planning for the next year. Waiting until the last minute means that decisions may be based on the mindset for that particular day rather than a more measured approach. Instead, a New Year's resolution should be planned well before December 31 arrives. If it's already too late for planning to start something by January 1st, pick another date—February 1st, your birthday, the anniversary of your diagnosis—whatever date is meaningful.


Outline Your Plan

Sewing a dress without a pattern isn't going to yield the best results, and neither will basic life choices on half-formed and half-thought-out ideas. Instituting changes includes making plans about how you will deal with the temptation to skip an exercise class or to have one more cigarette, for instance. This could include calling on a friend for help, practicing positive thinking and self-talk, or reminders about how lifestyle choices can affect IBD.


Make a Pros and Cons List

It's important to consider all the angles of a resolution. Maybe the time is right, and maybe it's not: give that idea a thought before diving in. It may help to see a list of pros and cons on paper to strengthen the motivation. Develop this list over time, and ask others to contribute to it. Keep the list handy and refer to it when the need to reaffirm a resolution strikes.


Talk About It

Don't keep a resolution as a secret. Bring family and friends into the fold, and with their help, goals will be easier to achieve. The people who care will be there to support the resolution to change habits for the better or to improve overall health. The best-case scenario is to find a buddy who shares the same New Year's resolution and to motivate each other. 


Reward Yourself

Small rewards along the way can help in giving a sense of achieving goals. This doesn't mean that it's OK to eat an entire box of chocolates if the resolution is to eat more healthfully. Instead, celebrate successes with something enjoyable that does not contradict the resolution. After sticking to a promise to eat better, for example, perhaps a reward could be going to a movie with a friend. 


Track Your Progress

Keeping track of progress can be a big help on the journey. Make note of each small success made toward reaching the larger goal. Short-term goals are easier to keep, and small accomplishments will help with motivation. Instead of focusing on losing 30 pounds, say, focus on losing that first five. Keeping a food diary or a symptom journal may also help in staying on track.


Don't Beat Yourself Up

Having a good attitude all the time isn't always possible but working toward being less self-critical can help. Obsessing over the occasional slip up won't help in the pursuit of progress. Do the best that's possible each day, and take each day one at a time. When there is a backslide, don't dwell on it. Get back on schedule again and keep moving forward with the plan.


Stick to It

Sticking to a plan is going to be the hardest part of keeping a resolution. Experts say it takes about 21 days for a new activity, such as exercising, to become a habit, and 6 months for it to become part of your personality. New healthful habits will become second-nature in no time.


Keep Trying

Not every shot is going to hit the bullseye. What matters is to keep trying. If a resolution has totally run out of steam by mid-February, don't despair. Start over again! There's no reason a "New Year's resolution" can't be made at any time of year.


Facts About New Year's Resolutions

In a study in Sweden, researchers analyzed New Year's resolutions made by more than 1,000 people. They found that the participants' goals included the following:

  • 33% for physical health
  • 20% to lose weight
  • 13% to change eating habits
  • 9% for personal growth
  • 5% for mental health/sleep

For those with approach-oriented goals, such as striving to eat more fruit, 59% considered their resolution successful. For those with an avoidance goal, such as not eating candy, 47% felt they were successful.

1 Source
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Oscarsson M, Carlbring P, Andersson G, Rozental A. A large-scale experiment on New Year’s resolutions: Approach-oriented goals are more successful than avoidance-oriented goalsPLoS One. 2020;15(12):e0234097. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0234097

By Amber J. Tresca
Amber J. Tresca is a freelance writer and speaker who covers digestive conditions, including IBD. She was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis at age 16.