Sustain Your Resolutions for the New Year

Ah, New Year’s. The time to look to the future for hope, health, and happiness. We say goodbye to 2013 and hello to 2014. During this time, we also reflect on our past and set personal future goals for ourselves, commonly known as resolutions. Some of the most popular New Year’s resolutions include: lose weight, eat healthy food, quit smoking, and save money. The typical personal goals we all want to accomplish. Resolutions are an opportunity to do better and feel better with a fresh start. We all have bad habits and when we recognize that, we desire change and want to start new. The problem is that when we set those personal goals, we also secretly wish to have immediate results. These resolutions are LONG term goals that take time to accomplish. However, we want these resolutions to be SHORT term goals, but they are not going to happen overnight. We live in a fast-paced world, where if something isn’t instantaneous, it isn’t worth the wait. We all want to lose weight and save money, but in all honesty, we all want to already be thin and rich, like when we tried to create our resolutions last year. The journey to make that happen is discouraging with numerous distractions and slow results.

However, I don’t believe New Year’s Resolutions are truly sustainable. According to, 45% of Americans make resolutions, but only 8% are successful in achieving them. Then only 25% don’t even make it past the first week. Human willpower is not constant and fluctuates throughout the day. We also overestimate our ability to make a decision. So how do we actually make a true resolution and stick with it?

Here are ways you can figure out a personal long term goal (during any time of the year) and make it sustainable in your life.


1) Be specific and focused – Instead of saying I want to “save money,” come up with a specific (detailed) plan to do so. For example, I will save money by bringing my lunch to work 3 out of the 5 work days. Then, do something like, the money saved will be placed into a new special savings account towards a special vacation or a special purchase. Set a goal with a positive change-reaction to encourage you during the process. Here’s another one. Instead of “losing weight,” come up with a target to lose one size, but also strengthen your upper body or tone your legs. Weight loss isn’t the only track, when you really should focus on the entire conditioning of your body. Work with a personal trainer to come up with a fitness plan tailored to your schedule, your needs and your goals. While it may seem lofty to work with a professional, sometimes it helps to have a real expert to talk with, when the at-home DVDs aren’t talking back to cater to your needs.

2) Track it – Set a plan to track your progress to remind you of your resolutions. Small victories will help encourage you. To “save money,” set a reminder to check your balance in your special savings account to see how much it has grown. Track your fitness plan and keep up with the number of weights you’ve bench pressed or how far you’ve gone in a distance run.

3) Have accountability and share your plan – It’s always tempting to eat out with coworkers and friends, but save the special lunch dates to really enjoy getting out of the office, especially on days like Mondays and Fridays. Tell your friends what you are doing and they hopefully will support you! Maybe they will do the same and you could still eat in and still have a break from work. Fitness is also great to share with friends and coworkers, especially for the accountability. Share your success on social media and let others encourage and compliment you!

In order to sustain any personal goal, patience is a key component. While we all desire to see quick results, we also have to enjoy small victories to stay motivated in order to reach the bigger long term goal.


the author

Originally from Virginia, Jennifer C. Sellers is passionate about sustainability and conservation in South Carolina and throughout the world. She earned her BA in English from Coastal Carolina University and her MAS in Environmental Policy and Management from the University of Denver. She is a university sustainability coordinator that implements programs and teaches people about going green and being sustainable. Follow her on Twitter @MyGreenGlasses

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