It’s that time of year again — New Year’s resolutions and goal setting! And according to cumulative survey data, more than 40% of Americans set New Year’s Resolutions each year. In fact, nearly 10% of respondents reported having multiple goals! Yet, despite 8 in 10 feeling confident in their ability to achieve their goals, 23% of goal setters quit in the first week, and only 36% maintain steam past the first month. By the end of the year, fewer than 10% are successful. So, where is the disconnect? The challenge lies with maintaining the momentum past January and making resolutions that stick.
However, don’t get discouraged. We’re sharing how to keep your New Year’s resolutions in 2024 with the expert advice you’ve been waiting for. Hint: it’s easier than you think. Think: simple, sustainable, and long-term! With a little planning and know-how, your 2024 goals will become healthy habits before you know it.
Putting Goals Into Action
You’ve likely heard the saying, “a goal without a plan is just a wish.” Without a proper plan, you’re not giving yourself a fair shot at making your goals come true!
“Any resolution can be a worthwhile goal, but it likely won’t come to fruition until you make changes from within to achieve it,” says sports performance psychologist Haley Perlus, PhD.
“Even when you know what you want and why you want it, we all have stories that prevent us from personal growth, make us victims to our circumstances. Until we reframe our stories, we will have trouble keeping our resolutions,” she says. “Your conscious self may want to achieve a goal, if your subconscious is scared, it likely won’t happen. This is what’s known as a hidden barrier.”
5 Expert Tips To Help You Set (and Sustain) Your 2024 Resolutions
How do we overcome those hidden barriers? With psychology-supported tips and easy-to-implement actions that will keep you steadfast, focused, and getting healthier every day.
#1 Be Specific
How to keep your New Year’s resolutions this year? Get specific. Specificity and clarity matter. “How often have you heard people say, ”This is the year I’m going to get in shape?” asks Dr. Perlus. “When you think about it, that’s a vague statement. Does that mean the person has a number on the scale they want to hit? Do they intend to complete a marathon? Do they have a body fat percentage goal? Do they want to walk 10,000 steps a day? The point is, you need to have clearly defined goals.”
And remember: this should be highly individualized! What does ‘getting in shape’ mean to you (if that’s your goal)? How do you want to feel, what do you want to do? What does a healthier, happier you look and feel like? Envision your big goal, and then get specific with steps. This might (and should) look different from your friend, neighbor, or partner. Get specific and set those benchmarks along the way to your ‘end result.’
Consider incorporating wearable fitness devices (such as smartwatches) to track your progress, or sign up for a FitOn challenge or program based on your specific goals! Doing so can help you set specific goals and monitor your achievements (more on this below).
#2 Be Realistic
Keep it simple. “These resolutions need to be goals you believe you have control over and can actually achieve,” says Dr. Perlus. If you don’t feel confident that you can actually achieve your goals, you’re way less likely to keep to your resolution. And even if you do initially believe you can stick to it, take inventory and check in with yourself. Do you think your goal is realistic? Is this something that you can easily and simply incorporate into your life right now?
One of the biggest reasons resolutions fail is because we bite off more than we can chew, get discouraged, and give up. The simpler you keep it, the more likely you are to achieve your goals. Try to adopt a “less is more” mentality! Think: micro-goals. Starting small paves the path for your larger resolution! Plus, according to research by Teresa Amabile from Harvard Business School, tracking these small, achievable steps can keep you motivated and help you feel a sense of accomplishment as you progress on your journey.
And just as a reminder, it’s more than ok if your goals shift along the way! Maybe you thought your initial goal was realistic, but it turns out it’s more than you can handle. Rather than throw in the towel or get down on yourself, be willing to adapt and adjust.
#3 Be Accountable
From workout buddies to a healthy living community, to your best friend who calls you out when you’re slacking, it’s important to have accountability. “You don’t have to post your resolution on social media, but telling some trusted friends or family members could give you the support you need and hold you accountable,” says Dr. Perlus.
Here are some simple but effective ways to hold yourself accountable with your resolutions:
- If working out is your goal, schedule your workout in your calendar and set workout reminders in the FitOn app.
- Trying to lower your sugar intake? Do a pantry cleanout and replace refined and processed foods with healthier options.
- Is healthy eating your goal? Meal prep or hit the farmers market on the same day every week.
- Want to drop the perfectionist mindset and stay more positive? Try these fitness mantras!
If you’re looking for a supportive community to keep you accountable, our FitOn community is just the place! Download the FitOn app and connect with other like-minded individuals, or join one of our FitOn courses like the Mindful Eater, 20-Minute Fit, or Break from Stress!
If you’re struggling to get started, our 14-Day Motivation Challenge is a great stepping stone! You’ll learn tips and tricks to help you maintain and sustain your 2024 goals (and overall goals) for long-term success.
#4 Keep Track
“In psychology, there is a core principle,” explains Dr. Perlus. “If you can measure it, you can change it.”
Whether you’re taking daily progress photos, logging a food journal, or using a habit tracker, she explains that “measurements serve as a source of inspiration to allow you to see where you began and where you are.” This is a core psychology principle, people!
“Keeping track of your goals also helps you identify the successful journey along the way to achieving the end result,” says Dr. Perlus. “You also can evaluate plateaus or ‘glitches’ in your progress and tweak your efforts.”
It also helps rejuvenate you along the path toward your goal. “Resolutions are simply goals,” says clinical psychologist Forest Talley, PhD, at Invictus Psychological Services in Folsom, CA. “Goals that we stick to have tremendous power because they change life’s trajectory; They have the punch to rekindle old passions, to unveil forgotten potential, and to spark a cascade of positive change.”
Need help keeping track? Head to the FitOn app! With everything in one easy-to-access location, it takes away the stress and confusion of planning and tracking your progress. You can ‘favorite’ your favorite meals, keep tabs on your completed workouts, add activity, and use the FitOn step tracker to keep track of your daily step count.
#5 Drop The Perfectionism
“Many of us are guilty of this type of thinking,” says Dr. Perlus. “If we are dieting, and then eat French fries, instead of viewing it as a blip on the radar, we think, ‘Well, there goes my diet, might as well have dessert now, and I’ll restart next Monday,’” she says.
This especially applies if you set up a resolution with strict parameters — think: “I will do ___ every day,” or “I will only ____” or “Never ____.” These absolutes come from a perfectionist, all-or-nothing standard.
You may think, “‘I don’t have time to work out for an hour as I intended, so what good are 20 minutes going to do?’” posits Dr. Perlus. But the reality, she explains, is that those 20 minutes are still amazing. Any movement, any good habit, is better than doing nothing. “Taking baby steps toward our goals is better than taking no steps at all. People throw in the towel on one bad day or when they didn’t achieve ‘the full goal’ intended. The secret is to keep pushing forward.”
Your 2024 Mentality: It’s A Journey Not A Destination
When it comes to making (and keeping) your 2023 resolutions, remember: progress doesn’t happen overnight! Be kind to yourself and know this is a process. Instead of a final destination, think of it as a journey. There are likely to be bumps and bruises along the way, and your original plan might change, but that’s ok! In fact, that’s totally normal. And if you find yourself needing support, come back to these five tips on how to keep your New Year’s resolutions. You’ve got this!