It’s that time of year, which is to say, the end. So I want to talk about what makes a good New Year’s resolution, because if I have to read one more blog post with the “hot take” that New Year’s resolutions are stupid and not worth your time, I’ll scream.

a hand holding a lit sparkler against a black backdrop with the text "what is a good new year's resolution?"

Yeah. Some New Year’s resolutions are trash. But not all of them. And some people never achieve them. But also, some people achieve all of them.

As with all things, there is room for some nuance here, and there’s room for us, as human adults, to hold multiple truths in our head at once. (I assume you’re an adult. If not, what the hell are you doing surfing the internet? This place is full of sickos.)

The thing with resolutions is that mindset largely determines whether or not they’re worth it. And personality. And the resolution itself. And like a billion other factors.

It’s no secret that I love a good New Year’s resolution. I make them every year. I love picking a word for the year. I love making big changes and starting projects. Hell. I’ve even made a syllabus for self-study in the past.

So, it’s with that in mind that I thought I would share what makes a good New Year’s resolution. And why you may have failed in the past.

What is a good New Year's resolution? Click To Tweet

Are New Year’s Resolutions worth it?

Yes. Unequivocally yes.

But if that isn’t enough for you, it’s important to note that they exist for a reason. Like, if all New Year’s resolutions were crap and completely unachievable, no one would stick to the tradition of making them, right?

I mean, yeah. There are a lot of really terrible resolutions that people make. And there are a lot of industries that profit off you making resolutions, whether or not you can keep them. (Looking at you, fitness/wellness industry!)

But resolutions don’t have to be total overhauls or complete 180-degree transformations. They can be quiet, simple, and personal. And to me, that’s the key to keeping them.

Why You Failed to Keep Resolutions

Even though I’m a huge fan of resolutions, one thing I hate is the obligatory Instagram resolution post, especially when it’s an impossible resolution for the person to keep. Resolutions are like a good stretch goal, and if you have a whole year to work on something, that means you have roughly 365 days to fail too.

Posting your resolutions may seem like a good way to create accountability. And maybe for some, it is. I hate doing it though, unless it’s something i know I can keep. But fitness goals? That’s not something I can guarantee.

For example, I love lifting weights. But I don’t want to set a resolution about how much I want to lift. Why? Well. Injuries happen. Sickness happens. Boredom happens. And If I get injured, sick, or bored, I probably won’t be able to work out the same way I usually do. But a resolution about working out 6 days a week? I know I can keep that. It’s specific and measurable, and it gives me wiggle room to change up what I’m doing to work out in the event that I need to make a change in case of injury or sickness or if I just get bored.

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(Yes, yoga is a workout. Yes, going for a walk is a workout. Yes, stretching before I get into bed is a workout. I get to set the parameters. This is my life, and no one else has to live it, thanks.)

So, I see a lot of people post about their resolutions. And sometimes, they aren’t achievable unless they exist in a vacuum where all they have to do is focus on that one goal and not go to work or care for their family or just like, I don’t know, be a person.

They’ll share this highly personal resolution. Like maybe it’s something to the effect of “lose 100 pounds this year.” That’s a lot for one year. And it doesn’t take into account that you can’t always work out every day or that maybe you may go on vacation and not be able to meal prep for that goal.

So they make the post. And they start the year strong. And then, by April, they hit the plateau. And instead of enjoying the accountability they thought they’d have by sharing this journey on social media, they now feel immense shame and think they’re a failure.

That is not conducive to success. Not even a little bit.

And in times when they need to offer themselves up a little self-compassion, they probably won’t be able to because Instagram is not a place that makes us want to be kind to ourselves. Algorithms don’t really care about our mental health.

Why You Should Still Make Resolutions

So with all that, it could seem like a good idea to never make a resolution. That’s false.

I say go for it. But be smart and intentional about the resolutions you make. Know that you won’t be able to make forward progress every single day, because you are a human being with obligations and a body that needs rest.

So, back to the weight loss goal.

Firstly, I would never recommend weight loss as a goal. To me, it’s boring and there is a lot of research out there that proves that most diets cause you to gain weight back and then some. It isn’t to say that you can’t lose weight, but the traditional methods you’ve used? Might not be the thing that changes the game for you.

Instead, focus on making resolutions that will get you to the end goal of losing weight. Like maybe you could resolve to eat a green vegetable for lunch and dinner every weekday? That’s a great habit, and one you won’t regret having. Yes, green vegetables cannot hold a candle to French fries, but at the end of the day, no adult is mad when they don’t have heartburn.

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So re-think the resolution. It doesn’t have to be the big, impossible thing. Sure, it looks really cool when you can achieve that, but what if you can’t? How will you feel? And are you the type to bounce back in the face of failure? How hard is it for you to get back on the proverbial wagon?

Keep all this in mind as you think about who you want to be in the coming year. Because knowing who you are and the space you have for a new change is key to becoming the person you want to be.

Knowing who you are and the space you have for a new change is key to becoming the person you want to be. Click To Tweet

What is a Good New Year’s Resolution?

Please don’t think I’ve always been a good New Year’s resolution maker. In fact, I’ve made some doozies. But the older I get, the more I think about how I want to feel rather than how I want to be perceived. Ideally, I would never be perceived. I am not an entity that is meant to exist in three-dimensional space.

(I am, however, the sort of entity that likes to say stuff that you might hear someone say at 3 AM as you sit on the back porch under the influence of jazz cabbage.)

Focus more on the capacity you have for the change you want to make. That’s what I do now. And I can now acknowledge that I don’t have time to do all the big, soul-shaking changes I used to. And that’s cool.

Instead, I focus on these three little tips to keep me on track in my resolutions.

A Good New Year’s Resolution is Breakdown-able

Man. I know people with addiction know it’s important to take it one day at a time, but that’s good advice for us all. And if you can break your resolution into day-by-day bits, it’s going to be so much easier.

Focusing on the little thing you can do in a moment is way easier than thinking about a whole year at once. So make sure you have chosen a resolution that allows you to break it down in daily chunks.

And you know that example I gave about eating a green vegetable for lunch and dinner on weekdays? You can break that into two chunks per day! So it’s hella breakdown-able.

Doing this means you don’t have to focus on the big goal ever. You just have to be present and make a good decision toward that goal in that moment. And if you fail once? Not a big deal because tomorrow is always another day.

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A Good New Year’s Resolution is Measurable

I won’t beat you over the head with S.M.A.R.T. goals.

But I think the biggest takeaway from S.M.A.R.T. goals is the M. And not just because it’s my favorite letter, obviously. It’s because being able to measure something is the best way to prove to your brain that you’re doing a thing. A big, hard thing. And that means a big ol’ dopamine rush.

You can measure it however you want. You can put a gold star on the calendar on days when you’ve done the thing. You can keep a habit tracker. You can do whatever the hell you want. Just make sure you’re measuring in some way. Because the more you see the progress, the easier it is to keep going.

And be warned! The less you see progress, the easier it is to quit and never do the thing you said you wanted to do.

A Good New Year’s Resolution is Something You Want to Keep

Okay. I’m about to say something controversial, yet brave.

The reason so many people fail at keeping New Year’s resolutions is because they don’t actually want to achieve them.

Take all the time you need with that. And then, think back to resolutions where you failed. Did you actually want to achieve that thing, or did you choose that resolution because you thought it was what you wanted? Is it something someone else wanted for you? Is it something that you thought would look cool in an Instagram post? Is it a thing you thought you should do to perform a very specific role in society?

All may be true. Or some variations of those may be.

But here’s the thing: In life, you are the architect of your own goal posts. No one gets to set your deadlines. No one gets to make the rules.

Just you. You have to do those things. And it’s hard to remember that.

So, if you find yourself doing a fuck-ton of people pleasing with your resolutions, you’ll fail. Because at the end of the day, you aren’t doing them for you. And you really don’t want to keep them if you’re doing them for someone else.

The reason so many people fail at keeping New Year's resolutions is because they don't actually want to achieve them. Click To Tweet

What’s a Good New Year’s Resolution to You?

How do you feel about New Year’s resolutions? Are you able to keep them?

I’d love to hear about some of your favorite resolutions you’ve made in the past, and how you kept them!

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