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6 Steps to Follow Through with Your New Year’s Resolution

Every new year we make resolutions to change. We want to be better and do more, but in the end our resolutions are forgotten. It can be hard to stay committed when you’re juggling school, work, family life, and personal commitments. But it doesn’t have to be like that!

And I know it may seem overwhelming at first, but there are some steps you can take that will help you with how to follow through with your New Year’s resolution and ultimately succeed in making this year the best one yet!

Successful woman knows how to follow through with your New Year's Resolution

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6 New Year’s Resolution Tips for Success

When it comes to New Year’s Resolutions, I make one every year. My resolution for 2020 was bust due to COVID, but we made the best of it. Needless to say, I’ve learned some things about how to follow through on your resolution over the years.

In general, the key lies in choosing the right goal, making it a SMART goal, finding your motivation, removing obstacles, planning, and execution.

We’ll go into each of these 6 steps in detail, but first, let’s look at some potential alternatives to New Year’s Resolutions, and what circumstances are best for each one.

READ MORE: Your New Year’s Resolution to Live Life to the Fullest!

Why Do A New Year’s Resolution?

Did you know that most people don’t even make it to February with their New Year’s resolutions? They abandon them after a month or two, convinced that it was too hard, or too much work, or they don’t have enough time, or that they just can’t do it this year.

But you know what?…

There’s NEVER going to be enough time. It’s ALWAYS going to be hard. It’s ALWAYS going to be a lot of work.

Change is uncomfortable, and most people aren’t willing to leave their comfort zone.

Are you willing to leave your comfort zone to find change in your life?

When you set a New Year’s Resolution, you have to be committed, 100%. A New Year’s Resolution—depending on your goal—might last an entire year, or it might take many months to accomplish what you’re hoping to. Long term goals are incredibly difficult to succeed, especially those goals with very little planning and accountability.

Other Options for New Year Goals

There are other goals and plans you can employ to improve your life in 2021 if you’re not sure you want to go with the traditional New Year’s Resolution route.

Quarterly Goals

Monthly calendars to set monthly goals for your New Year's Resolution

Quarterly Goals are goals that you can set for every 3 months. Because they are a shorter time frame than a year to achieve your goals, they can help you keep focused but still give you room to achieve some bigger goals.

In fact, many bloggers, entrepreneurs, and businesses separate their calendar year into:

Quarter 1: January 1 – March 31
Quarter 2: April 1-June 30
Quarter 3: July 1-September 30
Quarter 4: October 1-December

This is a great option for professional and career goals or resolutions.

30 Day Challenges

30 Day Challenges have become popular in recent years, with many people sharing them via social media. These challenges are usually focused on one thing (decluttering, health, self-care, etc.) and last, you guessed it, 30 days.

They’re much quicker and easier to accomplish than a New Year’s Resolution because the challenge walks you through exactly what to do each day! What’s better, the tasks are usually easy to complete and take only minutes. If you can improve your life in only a couple minutes a day, would you do it?

Word of the Year

Word of the Year is the easiest New Year goal to follow through with because it’s not actually a goal at all. When you select a word to represent you, its goal is to help you focus your attention on something special for any length of time.

Love word of the year instead of a New Year's Resolution for success

Need to remember to practice self care more?

Maybe your word of the year could be BREATHE.

Want to feel motivated to kick ass at work?

Maybe your word of the year could be ACHIEVEMENT or SUCCESS!

You get the picture. Read more about selecting a personal word of the year here (and 250 Word of the Year ideas).

6 Steps to Follow Through with Your New Year’s Resolution

Now that you’ve chosen to do a New Year’s Resolution, you want to make sure to set yourself up for success.

1. Choose the right goal

Don’t choose a goal based on criticism. If you’ve always heard from your mother that you need to lose weight, that’s not a good reason to choose it as your New Year’s resolution.

Don’t choose someone else’s goal. If your group of mom-friends are all choosing a book club as their New Year’s resolution, but you’d rather focus on your health, choose what’s best for YOU. You can still do the book club if you have time, but focus your mental energy on your healthy New Year’s resolution.

Avoid repeating past year’s New Year’s resolutions that didn’t work out. If you’ve tried for years to fit into a size 2 dress, maybe it’s time to try a new approach. Focus on self-care, mental health, or spending more time in nature instead.

Make a pros and cons list if you’re stuck between two goals.

2. Make it a SMART goal

Smart goals are a way how to follow through with your New Year's Resolution.

SMART stands for:

Attainable (Achievable)
Time-bound (Timely)

SMART goals make it easier to follow through with your New Year’s Resolution because they are detailed and give you checkpoints for success. Meeting checkpoints in your goals can help you stay focused and motivated, especially when you get close!

Here are some examples:

DON’T: I want to read more.
DO: I will attend a book club every week from January to July.

DON’T: I want to lose weight.
DO: I want to lose an inch from my waist by April.

DON’T: I want to drop 50 pounds by March 1.
DO: I want to lose an inch from my waist by April 1.

DON’T: I want to finish writing my memoir.
DO: I want to finish writing my memoir by December 31, 2021.

Got it? Good.

RELATED POST: 10 Ways to Increase Your Personal Accountability & Self-Discipline

3. Find your motivation

It can be tough to force ourselves to do something if you’re just not motivated. And no matter how much we want something, occasionally, we just won’t feel like doing it.

When this strikes you, it’s important to take a step back. Here’s a few ways to find your motivation to help you follow through with your New Year’s Resolution.

Write down your “why”

Your why is your reason for doing something. If your “why” for losing weight is because you want to look hotter than Karen at her son’s birthday party next year, then you may want to reexamine your priorities.

Your “why” should be something deep and meaningful to yourself.

  • Maybe you want to lose weight to be able to chase your kids on the playground.
  • Maybe you want to learn an instrument because your grandfather played the piano and he passed away last year, and you want to honor and remember him.
  • Maybe you want to startup your own business to free yourself from the 9 to 5 and define what “work” means to you.

Whatever it is, hold onto that feeling you get when you imagine yourself reaching your goal. Picture yourself playing with your kids on the playground, or playing the piano for your grandmother. Those emotions can help carry you through.

RELATED POST: Your 2023 New Year’s Resolution: Put Down the Phone and Do a Digital Detox!

Get a buddy

We humans are social creatures. We’re not mean to do things alone.

The most successful people are the ones who have people who believe in them–even if they’re just in the background. Conversely, lack of connection and community has been found to have a correlation with drug abuse.


On a more realistic scale, lack of support and connection with others can really derail your goals, so find someone you can either take this journey with together, or who you can at least talk to about your progress. Talk to them on a regular basis and build it into your routine!

RELATED POST: 20 Affirmation Cards for Motivation and Self-Worth

4. Remove obstacles

I’m talking about the obstacles that are inside of yourself. Many people call these “limiting beliefs“.

Limiting beliefs are something that is built into your subconscious about the way you believe yourself or life in general to be. Habits for Wellbeing says limiting beliefs can:

  • keep you from seeing the different opportunities present to you each day
  • keep you stuck focusing on the negative aspect of your circumstances
  • (among other things)

You can see how these things can be a problem, right?

For example, growing up, my dad always said,

Life’s a bitch and then you die.

It’s an overused, harmful statement that many use as an excuse to see the negatives in life and ignore the many good things.

Growing up, I believed that I was a burden to my family. And because of such, I was less likely to reach out for help when I needed it (see “Get a Buddy” above).

Start thinking about the negative feelings and thoughts you have on a regular basis and identify your own limiting beliefs so that you can step past them to follow through with your New Year’s Resolution this year.

Using Affirmations to Crush Your New Year’s Resolution This Year!

5. Plan extensively

Most New Year’s resolutions fail because of a lack of planning. Make sure when you have a goal in mind that you want to tackle that you’ve put in place a plan that will help you visualize getting to the end.

Action plans are detailed and comprehensive step by step plans that allow you to take inspired action toward your goals.

According to Creately, Action Plans include:

  • A well-defined description of the goal to be achieved 
  • Tasks/ steps that need to be carried out to reach the goal
  • People who will be in charge of carrying out each task
  • When will these tasks be completed (deadlines and milestones)
  • Resources needed to complete the tasks
  • Measures to evaluate progress

Checkpoints can allow you to recognize and feel inspired by smaller successes along the way. Having backup plans in case life gets in the way (and let’s be honest, when does life ever NOT get in the way?) can help you still be successful, even if you don’t reach your absolute end goal.

Need help planning? Check out Boss Lady’s New Year Resolution Action Plan.

6. Execute your plan

Finally, you just have to step up and do it.

No one can do this for you!

Take accountability and responsibility and work your plan, EVERY SINGLE DAY until you can check off that New Year’s Resolution. And it might not stick forever. You might gain weight again. You might stop playing the piano after a few years.

But when you follow the previous 5 steps, you’re setting yourself up for the easiest path to execute your plan every day.

Make sure that if things derail, you are gentle with yourself. Stop punishing yourself and focus on the success you’ve found so far. If things go bad, take a rest and then start over. Refocus, reset, take a deep breath and go again.

Read more: How to Wake Up Early to Get More Done!

⭐ Bonus: Remember Your Worth

When you’re feeling down, dejected, or like you’re failing, take a quick detour.

Get out a journal or some paper and get to work. Answer the following questions:

  1. Why do I want this for myself?
  2. What will this do for my life?
  3. What’s in my way?

Then write some affirming statements.

I am worth this goal.
I am kicking my goal’s ass!
I have all the motivation I need!
I’m a badass!
I achieve all my goals with ease!

After you’ve pumped yourself up, get back at it! Following through with your New Year’s Resolution doesn’t have to be difficult!

Just be thorough and believe in yourself.


It’s easy to have high expectations for your resolution and then be let down. Hopefully by now you have a pretty good idea how to follow through with your New Year’s resolution. There are so many options for you to choose from, either by selecting a different goal such as quarterly goals or word of the year, or through extensive planning and motivation.

Many people don’t follow through with their New Year’s Resolutions, but you don’t have to be one of them, so get planning today!

What’s your New Year’s Resolution this year?

How to follow through with your New Year's Resolution (pinterest image)

How to Follow Through with Your New Year’s Resolution

*Updated December 2020

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