Blog: How to Be Successful with New Year’s Resolutions

How to Be Successful with New Year’s Resolutions

As the echoes of New Year’s Eve celebrations gradually fade, the allure of fresh starts and resolutions settles into the more contemplative air of mid-January. In this phase, described by behavior scientist Dr. BJ Fogg’s “Motivation Wave” research, our enthusiasm for ambitious resolutions may shift as the wave of motivation gradually subsides.  Fogg’s insight suggests that when motivation is high, we can tackle ambitious goals, but as it diminishes, our willingness is more suited to simpler tasks.

Embark on a journey into the intricate realm of goal-setting, recognizing its challenges while employing research-backed strategies.  Let’s navigate the complexities of goal-setting, understanding that the essence lies not merely in making resolutions but in crafting them to stay afloat amidst the changing tides of motivation, propelling us steadily toward our desired destinations.

Factors of Success in New Year’s Resolutions:

In the realm of New Year’s resolutions, the simple act of setting a resolution is associated with significantly more success, highlighting the power of intention and progress over an idealized notion of perfection.

Research highlights common threads among successful resolutions, emphasizing effective strategies like stimulus control – the act of keeping things around you to remind you why you chose the goal, and positive reinforcement. Successful resolvers reward their achievements, reinforcing positive behavior. It’s a proactive approach that contrasts starkly with the less effective strategies of wishful thinking and self-blame employed by those who struggle to keep their resolutions.

As we unravel the complexities of resolution success, it becomes evident that the journey is not just about reaching a final destination but about the consistent strides forward. Progress, even in its most incremental form, emerges as the true measure of success. 

Embracing effective strategies like stimulus control and positive reinforcement, coupled with the cognitive skill of challenging self-blame and wishful thinking, empowers resolutions to become powerful tools for personal growth and lasting change. Now, let’s navigate further into the nuanced world of goal-setting, exploring the type of goals individuals set and the factors that contribute to their success.

Navigating the Terrain of Goal-Setting:

Balancing Goals in Different Life Domains:

Let’s imagine our goals and daily routines as line items to manage in our personal “Behavior Budget.” Much like financial budgeting, where each expense impacts the overall balance, every action and commitment is accounted for in our finite daily capacity. 

Pursuing multiple goals simultaneously is common, but it comes with its own challenges. Balancing the demands on shared resources such as time, energy, and money often leads to conflicts. Research indicates that success lies in disengaging from unattainable goals and prioritizing those aligned with current circumstances. Regularly reassessing and adjusting our plans allows for flexibility and a more realistic perspective on progress. The emotional weight attached to a specific goal outcome can significantly impact our journey. A rigid all-or-nothing attachment to a particular result can lead to frustration and self-blame when actual results land somewhere in between. 

In navigating the complex nature of life and our tendency to pursue diverse goals, this skill set – being able to reassess, prioritize, and adapt – is essential for achieving balance and sustained progress. Prioritizing goals and employing temporary detachment when focusing on another aligns with the principles of managing our Behavior Budget, where deliberate choices optimize our daily capacity. It ensures we meet our goals and maintain the lifestyle we envision. In essence, the logistical considerations of behavior become a guiding force toward a well-balanced life.

Navigating the Nuances of Goal-Setting:

As we venture deeper into goal-setting, the choice of the goal itself emerges as a pivotal factor in the journey toward success. Choosing approach-oriented goals, involving actively seeking positive outcomes, has proven significantly more effective than avoidance-oriented goals. Approach-oriented goals direct our focus towards achieving desirable results, fostering a proactive and optimistic mindset. In contrast, avoidance-oriented goals entail steering away from negative outcomes or undesirable situations, often resulting in a more reactive and cautious approach. This nuanced decision in goal selection shapes the trajectory of one’s pursuit, influencing the overall effectiveness of the journey.

The Influences on Our Journey:

Embarking on a journey of self-improvement is not solitary. Systems are perfectly designed to get the outcomes they get, and these systems – and our goals or behaviors – are influenced by various factors. 

Individual thoughts, our relationships (friends, family members, work colleagues, etc), and our environment generally all play a role in shaping our path toward any given goal. Recognizing and managing these sources of influence are key to steering our journey.

Studies consistently underscore that individuals receiving support are markedly more successful in sustaining their resolutions. Sharing aspirations not only encourages but also establishes a network of accountability, proving invaluable on the path to success.

Gratitude, Mindfulness, and Consistency:

Incorporating gratitude practices and mindfulness fosters more consistent habits.  Research consistently links higher levels of gratitude to increased self-satisfaction and wellness. Studies also indicate that persistently working on a task, even when challenging, correlates with better performance – again progress, not perfection!


In this intricate landscape, crafting effective goals, understanding and managing the influences, cultivating social support, and embracing gratitude and mindfulness become guideposts for a successful journey. 

Ready to take the next step in your journey toward lasting change? Our team of dedicated dietitians is here to provide personalized guidance and support tailored to your unique goals. Together, we’ll navigate the complexities, equipping you with the tools to move steadily toward your desired destinations, and fostering personal growth and well-being. Discover the benefits of working with us and embrace a healthier, more fulfilling lifestyle today.

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