How to Set A New Year’s Resolution That You’ll Actually Keep

New Year’s resolutions have become somewhat infamous when it comes to our inability to keep them. From getting motivated to setting tangible targets, mindet coach and SLAY retreats founder Poppy Delbridge shares her top tips for setting resolutions that will last all year long.

This year… ‘I’ll nail that job promotion’, ‘I’ll definitely kickstart with Dry January, ‘I’ll be cutting out allubers and begin cycling everywhere’, I’m going to start meditating for 2 hours a day’. 


At best, I’m probably going to meditate for 5 minutes every day for 10 days then give up and cry into a glass of wine, true Bridget Jones style.

That’s not me talking, that’s statistics. The sad truth is that only 8% of us keep our New Year Resolution. Fear not though, as making a few simple mindset changes can have you well on your way to beating the January blues and following through on your 2020 vision. 

So how do we make our resolutions more sustainable? How do we get them to actually work and last, so they don’t end up in a landfill of half-hearted New Year hopes?

The problem lies with the way we set resolutions, not with our capability. When we make resolutions, we genuinely want them to work but the problem is, they tend to evade us by February 1st. 

Let’s start with the word itself… ‘resolution’. 

If you’ve not had the best relationship with resolutions over the years, I’m here to urge you to drop the word ‘resolution’ altogether and instead decide to go easy on yourself. Be compassionate and just call them intentions and goals for your year ahead if that feels more doable. For now, I’ll stick to New Year resolutions but, if it feels more comfortable for you, substitute the term with something else to trick your brain into believing this is going to be easy. Let’s outsmart the limiting beliefs that hold us back! Remember, we are absolutely capable of making some truly incredible change as a new decade arrives, so first up, let’s get excited about the prospect. It couldn’t be more important to make more positive life choices.  

So, where does it all go wrong? Firstly, we tend to aim high. Ambition is good but there’s a limit when it comes to making resolutions. The ‘all-or-nothing’ style declarations of drastic change can quickly turn into worries, and worse, dread. We are over-shooting in ‘push’ mode. If we suddenly try to get straight A’s in every area, chances are we’re spreading ourselves too thinly and we will end up with rocky results. Instead, pick one focused ‘life area’ to concentrate on for 2020. Is that career, environment, finances, social life or personal development? Dedicate yourself to that one area that requires the most change and don’t try to do everything. Reduce the urge to go big or go home. 

When it comes to setting some concrete resolutions, we need to think about the actual resolution-setting process. Is it all doom and gloom or does it feel like it might actually be an enjoyable experience and a fun journey? My advice is to create positive resolutions that don’t feature the words ‘give up’ or ‘stop.’ We attract what we focus on, so choose to hone in on the positives. Substitute those negative words with reinforcement language such as ‘switch to’ or ‘begin.’ It’s telling your subconscious mind that it’s going to be fun. We’re often taught that if something is hard graft or unpleasant then it’s somehow much more rewarding but actually, for your wellbeing it’s important to recognise that when we’re having fun we get into the flow state… and change happens faster and deeper. Follow the fun! Allow yourself to enjoy the process. 

Do you know why you’re making your resolution? Why are you so mindful to try hot yoga this year? What are the benefits of shopping more sustainably for your clothes this year? What tangible difference will reducing shop-bought packaging make to the planet? List out many reasons why you want each resolution you make. In what ways will it help the planet, or impact your family, or create a better relationship with your partner? What are the stats associated with your change? 

Think outside the box on this one and really dig deep to work out exactly why you’re doing it. If you’re just doing it because it’s what someone else is doing, it might not be worth sticking with when the going gets tough. Be specific and question if you have enough benefits stacked up in favour of you making changes. It’s the way I work with all my clients to create strategic goals on any level – and when it comes to making goals around sustainable living or wellbeing, it’s even more important to have a strong set of reasons armouring you.

There’s a tendency with emotional goals (and very often sustainability-related goals can be fuelled by our deepest motivations to help the planet) to slide into overwhelm because of all the ‘there’s just too much to do where do I even start’ kind of vibes. So break it down. Start small and build up each month. Set little achievable targets, smash them and celebrate yourself diligently. Be ready to pace your energy, so you make greater impact in the long run. It’s not about aiming for sudden perfection, it’s about making small, subtle shifts adding up over time. 

How about planning it out across the year and giving yourself a timeframe by which to bring your resolution to life? As humans, we respond well to signposts, checkpoints and progress. Set a ‘delivery date’ in your diary across a longer timeframe, which extends across your whole year ahead. Our resolutions are often code for ‘dreams’, and sadly dreams without a strong plan are as useful as sending a letter to Santa (sorry kids).

Once January 1st comes and goes, and that initial burst of energy has drained away, we can feel like a failure because we didn’t allow ourselves the gift of time. It’s free, people! Ten years ago, I gave myself a week to declutter my entire house. I think I managed a kitchen drawer. If I had given myself a week across the year, I’d have had a very snazzy house by now and thrown away all manner of junk, which I didn’t need to consume in the first place. So, think about the ways in which you break down your dream into chunks of time to measure your growth bit by bit. Feeling accomplished and ‘on track’ is enough to make it all worthwhile for your spiritual self. 

It’s also wise to seek support. Even though I’m a personal coach, I still have my own coaches because it keeps me accountable and countless studies show we are more likely to succeed and grow if we have someone in our corner helping us implement change. However, if you haven’t got someone like me gently kicking your bum (!) then perhaps you can at least use a friend for the same purpose?

Get accountable with a Resolution Buddy. Set your resolutions with a friend and check in with each other every month, or every other week, to see if you’re staying in line. You could even help your friends set their own goals because chances are, they’d like a little support too. How can you help someone else make their goal for 2020 more sustainable? Maybe you can share some of these tips? It’s good to spread the love!

If you want to really slay your 2020 intentions, then try this final tip. Imagine yourself this time next year, about to cruise into 2021 with that new job, that daily mindfulness practice, that detoxed liver and that emerging positive mindset… What did you have to do differently in order to make it all happen? Now do it! Decide to invest yourself into it and take action.

Whatever your resolution may be for the year ahead, I know you will see it when you believe it… so remember to recognise yourself, connect with your intuition and notice your abilities. You’re pretty amazing as you are. Believe in yourself. Maybe that’s the most important resolution of them all.

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