How to Actually Keep a New Year’s Resolution

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New Year, New Goals, New Plans, and New Resolutions. But how do we actually keep a New Year’s Resolution for more than the just the first week of January? This article is your one stop shop for how to set a reasonable resolution and actually achieve it!

Would you like to meet the Queen of setting immense impossible resolutions and then failing to keep them?

Well, here I am.

Until a couple of years ago I really believed I just wasn’t a goal oriented person. I would have defined myself as a flake and a quitter.

Motherhood has taught me a lot about myself and one thing I was surprised to learn is that I am actually really good at setting goals and keeping them!

The problem was I didn’t know how to set a noble goal and actually achieve it.

So here are a few tips to help you navigate the resolutions you choose to undertake and how to actually keep a New Year’s resolution.

Let’s Be Real..

The trick to setting any goal or resolution is to be practical.

A couple of years ago I decided to take on a handful of resolutions.

One for each branch of my life essentially: a physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual goal.

I set out to basically upend my life between December 31st and January 1st.

All were good and worthy goals, but did I stick to a single one of them? Nope.

Because it would have been nearly impossible.

We may have a lot of things we want to change or work on, but flipping the switch from “Holiday Mode” to a “new and improved best self” can be a bit extravagant.

So let’s pump the brakes and take it slow.

We have twelve months ahead and it is better to make slow and steady steps throughout the entire year than to burn out in the first 10 days!

Here are 5 tips for How to Set Practical Resolutions that you can Actually Achieve!

1. Start Small

Vowing to lose 30 pounds on Keto may not be the best goal to start out with.

Think about someone who has been a smoker for years- very, very few quit cold turkey and actually succeed. Most goals are somewhat long term- especially health goals.

People always say “make lifestyle changes”, and it sounds so cliché but it is true. It’s the small steps you take the make the most difference.

It may not seem like much to cut back one soda a day until you wake up one day and sip water without thinking about it and without feeling like you are missing out on something.

a bowl of lettuce on the counter, dieting new year's resolutions

With every small step you take towards your goal, you are painting a bigger picture.

So many people achieve their ‘goals’ quickly- like dropping 30 pounds in 3 months, but if the weight comes back the minute you return to your normal diet or it leads to other health issues- you haven’t really achieved your goal.

It is better to start small and go far than to take big steps that never really lead to anywhere different.

2. Set a “Quick Win” Goal

Motivation. Motivation. Motivation.

This is so important in anything we set out to do.

Setting a goal that is going to take months is much easier to stick to if you can knock out some “quick wins” along the way. Let’s say you are planning to save ten thousand dollars this year, set small goal posts to start.

A small reward or special dinner to celebrate each milestone along the way will motivate you to continue.

If your goal is to clean out your entire house and embrace a more simplistic life- set small, manageable goals that you can win at quickly to keep your momentum moving forward!

3. Focus on Creating New Habits

We aren’t Charlotte Mason homeschoolers by a long shot, but one thing I borrow heavily from the CM method is the idea of habits.

When you think of habits you probably think brushing your teeth or making your bed. Those are great habits to have, and if you don’t do them already- I would highly suggest adding them in! But the idea of a habit is that it essentially becomes like muscle memory.

You don’t need to write it on the to-do list or keep a chart of it- you do it without a second thought. There are of course good habits and bad- tossing out a bad habit and replacing it with a good one is a great way to achieve your goals.

Big goals are great, but it is the small daily steps we take that really define us.

Whatever your goal or big picture plan may be creating a daily habit sets the stage for success.

If you want to eat better, breaking up with your daily McDonald’s run and replacing it with a healthy meal you actually prefer will build a healthy and beautiful habit. Until someday you pass by McDonalds or Starbucks without even giving them a second thought.

4. Have Accountability

There’s an African Proverb that says, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

A few years ago I decided to do the Bible Recap Project’s Full Bible in a Year reading plan. I offered up the idea to my brother-in-law who showed me how to link the app with his, both of my sisters, and our cousin.

We all did the reading together- for an entire year.

I don’t think I would have been able to stick it out without that accountability.

When you include others in your goals or plans- be it a spouse, family member, or friend– you have someone to lean on it when you feel like giving in. You have someone there to cheer you on and you can be that for them as well.

You will go far, when you go together.

an open yearly planner, glasses, seed packets, and sticky notes, planning the year ahead

Grab a pencil or pen and jot down your reasonable and attainable resolutions.

Setting those goals is only half the battle.

Now how do we achieve them?

When December rolls around again and we look back on the year we had, I want us to say we accomplished something.

I want us to say we are more of the women we want to be than we were when the year started.

Write out your goals and let’s talk about how to actually keep a New Year’s Resolution!

How to Actually Keep a New Year’s Resolution

1. Remember: there are 12 months in a year, and they are all different.

One of the hardest things for me to accept is when something that used to work for us no longer serves us well.

There is a Passionate Penny Pincher yearly planner that I used to adore! Every year I needed a new copy before the year began. It was my sanity, my schedule, and it benefited our family- until it didn’t.

Volunteer hours, homeschool, library days- they just didn’t fit into my penny pincher planner. For the longest time I fought against it. Trying to make it work. Trying to get my money’s worth of that year’s planner.

The day I finally sat it on the shelf and walked away I felt so much freedom and have found rhythms that suit this season of life better.

a mother and son sharing a cup of tea

Who you are and what you do in January may not coincide with August.

It may be sensible to hit the gym daily in the winter, but not as easy in the summer when the garden needs tending to.

It may be wise to spend an hour on the stationary bike of an afternoon in February and it might make you nauseous in May when an unplanned pregnancy gives you vertigo. (Been there, done that!)

Setting an overall goal that can be altered with the seasons will make it easier to stick to your plans. There are 12 months in a year and they are all different- plan ahead with the idea in mind that not every day will look exactly like January 1st.

2. Be Flexible

Flexibility is such a gift in any aspect of motherhood.

If there is one thing every Mama knows it is that you can plan and plan, but your kids will always be unpredictable.

Life, too, is unpredictable.

Unfortunately, things do come up that we didn’t actually see coming.

The unplanned becomes reality.

There are seasons when letting go of plans or goals is necessary, but arriving at any resolution with the reminder that it may not go 100% according to plan allows you the flexibility to navigate a new year and still loosely hold your goals.

3. Know Who Holds the Pen

This is my lesson that I am walking away with from 2022.

Perhaps writing this blog this year, or just viewing myself as the author of my life in general set me up for a hard fall.

Regardless it was a shock this year when a story- my story– took twists and turns I never saw coming and left me standing in the midst of a million little pieces I couldn’t understand. But I was never the one with the pen to begin with. I may be living in the story but I am not the Author, nor am I the main character.

God is.

How do actually keep your New Year’s Resolutions?

You pray over them.

You work for them.

You cling to them when God says “cling” and you let go when God says “Let go.”

This year may not go the way you plan.

This is where we rely to the realization this His ways are higher than our ways.

4. Know your “WHY”

How to Actually Keep a New Year's Resolution

As with everything, you need a “why”.

Why put yourself through this?

Why change up your life or make things more difficult if you don’t have to?

When your reason for climbing is bigger than the mountain you face, you will reach the top.

Write out your New Year’s resolutions and then write out why you need to achieve them. How will it change your life, your health, your family? Write out your why and reflect on it often.

5. Chart it and Reward It!

As with anything, progress is key!

Draw or print off a chart to track your progress.

If you want to read 30 books this year, log them on your wall for encouragement.

And for each one you finish, celebrate!

Small rewards all along the way can help motivate you to keep going. Chart it and reward it- you got this!

6. Drag it Out as Much as You Need To

Burn out is the number one reason most New Year’s Resolutions- or goals in general– fail.

I always wanted a fast labor and delivery because I thought faster meant easier. Then I had Ivy Jo- super quickly, and I realized that was not true.

The thing about small steps over long periods of time is that you can pace it as you need to.

If you take off too quickly, run into overwhelm, and start to burn out- it is okay to pump the brakes.

It is better to walk the last few miles than to drop out of the race altogether.

Pace yourself.

Drag it out as much and as slowly as you need to.

Our New Year’s Resolutions

So what are my New Year’s Resolutions for this year.

I’m sure you’re dying to know. (Just kidding!)

tea cup, journal, planning New Years resolutions

The truth is I have no idea what the year ahead holds- the last few months have really shaken me.

But I know some things I hope to achieve and I’m excited to start tracking some new goals like:

  1. 1,000 Hours Outside. I know my kids get this in easily every year (though I plan to log their progress as well just out of curiosity), but I tend to stay indoors more and more since the kids don’t need me with them 24/7. I am going to strive for 1,000 hours outside this year even if it means blogging, reading, or folding laundry in the yard. Wanna join me? Grab a tracker sheet here, and let’s do it together!
  2. Natural Labor and Delivery of Baby #5. This never really gets any easier, but with each natural birth my desire for another beautiful birth grows more and more. So this is a huge goal for the year ahead -feel free to pray for me in this endeavor!
  3. Nutrition. I love, love studying nutrition and cooking from scratch, but there is always so much more to learn and grow in and I hope to continue that throughout this year- and hopefully to get to take you guys along with me- which brings me to my last goal:
  4. Blog more. This will be my first year blogging for the entire year and I really hope to put out more content and push myself to work at it more. I really want to accomplish so much with my home and family this year, but I am going to start here and keep it simple- otherwise something will fall off my already full plate.

Hope for the Year Ahead

My hope for this year is to see redemption.

This year we are preparing to welcome a new baby. His name has such a special meaning and such a beautiful promise behind it.

Isaac- son of laughter.

He is a reminder that God turns our tears into laughter and our mourning into rejoicing.

This past year was hard.

But even in that, it was beautiful.

I have learned to worship when I don’t feel like it. I have learned to trust when I don’t understand. And I have learned that God’s goodness, peace, and joy are not contingent upon my circumstances. This year I faced some fear I claimed I didn’t have- and I found my faith is strong enough to endure. Not because of me, but because of my God.

So to all my fellow archers who have aimed arrows through a really tough year and hope for a better one to come:

Happy New Year!

May it be filled with an abundance of His goodness.

Happy Aiming!

-Ashley

Let’s start our year Aiming Together! Grab our FREE 21 Day Bible Study Ebook on the Proverbs 31 Woman here!

For winter encouragement, click here!

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