Love them or hate them, New Year’s resolutions are a great idea. When people set them, it shows ambition, courage, and a drive to be better. Committing to them also takes advantage of The Fresh Start Effect, which shows you’re more motivated during new beginnings, like the new year.
As you probably know, though, resolutions are tough to keep. Today, I’ll show you three techniques that I’ve personally used that will help you make New Year’s resolutions last even longer.
1. Use The 12-Week Year to Make Your New Year’s Resolutions Last Longer
“12 Week Year system forces you to confront your lack of execution—and it’s uncomfortable, but it is the very thing that is required if you’re going to perform at your best. We call this discomfort productive tension.” ― Brian P. Moran & Michael Lennington
Of all the 400+ books I’ve summarized, one of the most life-changing for me was called The 12 Week Year: Get More Done in 12 Weeks than Others Do in 12 Months.
The main idea is very simple:
Set and track your goals on a 12-week cycle instead of 12 months. When you do, you get four resets or “new years” every year instead of just one. This makes you way more likely to stick to your goals.
I know that it works, too, because I’ve been doing it for over two years straight since I learned about the book. You simply track your goals in these time periods:
- January through March
- April through June
- July through September
- October through December
At the end of each “12-week year” you take a week off.
One of the main reasons your New Year’s resolutions don’t last very long is that you give up when it gets hard because you can’t imagine going on for an entire year. By chunking it down to just 12 weeks, you make your goals way more attainable. You can see the finish line, so you stick to them.
Another powerful way to take advantage of this is to turn it into a challenge. Commit to stick to your goals every day for 12 weeks straight, and make it public. Really promise yourself you’ll do it, and visualize how it will change your life.
I’m doing one right now myself, and it’s kept me consistent every day for 36 days straight!
2. Make Your New Year’s Resolutions Fun to Make Them Last Longer
“Make it fun if you want it done.” ― Jon Acuff
If you have a goal to do something you hate, you won’t stick to it and you won’t see results. You might as well not even set the goal.
You get caught up in thinking that for a goal to be worthwhile, it has to be hard, but that’s not always the case. We do grow when we do hard things, yes.
But doing things you enjoy doesn’t keep you from growing personally. It can actually make you more likely to improve because it keeps you going consistently.
The easiest example is with exercise goals. You don’t have to run to be healthy if you don’t like it! Any kind of movement that you enjoy counts. Walking, gardening, rollerblading, Ring Fit Adventure, or anything else you like to do that gets your body moving can help you reach your fitness goals.
It works the same way with your spiritual, relationship, and financial goals also.
Do the spiritual activities that you enjoy and are good at. Focus on what you have in common with others, not what makes you different. And for a better life all around, make sure your job is something that you like doing.
Make your New Year’s resolutions exciting, enjoyable, and fun, and they will last longer.
3. Track Your New Year’s Resolutions to Make Them Last Longer
“Focus on your progress, not your goals.” — Anna Barnes
If a football team focuses only on their performance, on doing their best throughout the game, and not the score, will they win?
Each goal has two parts:
- A desired outcome, or end goal, like losing 10 pounds.
- Action steps to get to that outcome, like dancing 3x per week.
You can’t just go out and lose a pound right now, for instance, there’s always an action associated with it to lead to that outcome. These processes and systems I’m talking about are the same as action steps.
You must track whether or not you do these action steps each day if you want to make your New Year’s resolutions last longer. If you’re not doing the work, how can you expect to see any results? It’s like the person wanting to lose weight continuing to sit around all day and wondering why they’re still overweight. It makes no sense.
Research shows that monitoring your progress on your goals makes you more likely to achieve them. That same study also found that the more often you track your goals, the more your chances of sticking to your goals increases.
Find a tracking system that works with you, that you will actually stick to. There are spreadsheets, journals, regular old pen and paper, and goal-tracking apps. Just pick one, try it out, and move to another if it doesn’t work. Do a brief daily check-in and a longer weekly review as part of your tracking system.
Don’t give up on tracking your goals, it’s one of the best tools I know and it’s helped me stick to my goals for the last 15 years.
People say all sorts of bad things about New Year’s resolutions, but they’re wrong. Setting goals to improve and do things you love is admirable. It shows you care and are willing to do hard things to achieve great results.
The problem is, it’s tough to stick to your resolutions. There are a lot of barriers in the way. But if you’ll use the 12-week year, make your goals fun, and track them, you’ll make your New Year’s resolutions last longer.