5 Simple Tips for Writing Successful New Year's Resolutions

One of the most widespread annual traditions is writing a list of New Year's resolutions on the evening of Dec. 31st, otherwise known as New Year's Eve.

This is a time when we all imagine ways we can improve our lives—whether it's traveling short distances by bike rather than car or committing once and for all to a recycling lifestyle. Whatever your resolutions may be, it's safe to say that the majority of us fall back into our old habits in a matter of weeks.

This year, get some tips for writing successful resolutions that will last all year long. By following the simple steps below, you'll be a brand new person by 2018:

Step 1: Decide On Areas of Improvement

Sometimes our resolutions can become a bit chaotic. In an attempt to randomly improve all facets of our lives, from health to school to fashion to relationships, we get lost in a sea of changes that are too overwhelming. In order to avoid making your resolutions a hectic to-do list, decide on your select areas of improvement.

Still from Bridget Jones' Diary, wrapped in a blanket eating ice cream

(Bridget Jones' Diary via Universal Pictures)

Maybe you'd like to end the second half of the school year better than the first half. Commit part of your resolutions to academic success by creating a list that caters to school. This could mean anything from cutting down on video game time to practicing better study habits, such as learning which test traps to avoid.

Consider sticking to one or two areas of life improvement in order to keep the list of resolutions simple and concise. When the list gets too long, it's easy to flat-out forget what you wanted to work on in the first place. Whether your area is mind, health or even social media, you'll find it much easier to break old bad habits and create good new ones by focusing on one at a time.


Step 2: Start Small

Grandiose resolutions are easy to write and impossible to follow. Sure, we have a full year to complete our New Year's goals, but that doesn't mean you have to cram a year's worth of productivity into a single mission.

For example, maybe you want more followers on your Etsy shop Instagram account. Rather than making your resolution, "Gain 10K followers," which I think we can all agree is a pretty bold goal, consider starting smaller with something like, "Gain 20 new followers a week." If you find that you greatly exceed your original resolution, increasingly bump up the goal so you have a steady forward movement.

By creating an enormous goal to begin with, we sometimes overwhelm our ability to achieve something so grand and end up feeling discouraged when the impending impossibility sets in. Avoid the defeat by beginning small and adding on new challenges throughout the year.


Step 3: Give Yourself Specific Goals

If you've ever written a resolution along the lines of, "Read more," then we have some work to do. Get specific with your resolutions by giving yourself actual goals to achieve. If you really want to add more individualized reading time to your daily life, then make your goal, "Read one leisure book every month." That way, you have a task to complete within a time period rather than a vague statement that can constantly be pushed to the side by the typical excuse, "I don't have time."

Consider putting a time limit on all of your resolutions. If you intend to take up running, sign up for a 5K run so you have an event to prepare for rather than watching your new hobby fall to the wayside. Penciling resolutions into your daily, weekly or monthly goals is a great step towards a proactive year.

Rory GIlmore's bedroom dedicated to Yale

(Gilmore Girls via Warner Bros. Television)


Step 4: Make Them Interesting

If we're being completely honest with ourselves, one of the biggest reasons why we don't accomplish our new year's resolutions is because they tend to be on the dull side. Quitting bad habits is hard, so instead of bogging down your list with a glass half empty outlook, write yourself fun, interesting and new goals that will be exciting to achieve.

For example, turn your negative resolution, "Stop eating fast food," into a positive one with this creative spin, "Buy a cookbook and try a new recipe every week." This way you have a goal, a time period in which to achieve it and indirectly you will avoid junk food by cooking your own delicious dishes.

If this year's list is full of a bunch of goals you didn't accomplish last year, it isn't likely that you'll accomplish them this year, either. Recycling the same old boring list year after year won't put you on the track to self-improvement. For the sake of your resolution longevity, making your yearly goals interesting and positive is a must.


Step 5: Get a Group Involved

The old saying, "Two heads are better than one," can be true in many aspects. In terms of resolutions, the more people committed to the same goals, the more likely everyone sticks to them! Get a group together for accountability. This could mean everything from beginning a book club (for the goal of reading more), to signing up for lessons with a friend or sibling (dance, music, yoga).

Whether you and your friends have the same goals you want to achieve or you decide to join a club to make your resolutions a reality, the more people involved makes everything more fun. It's likely that these resolutions will feel more like fun free time than self-improvement because you get the added bonus of spending time with your best friends.

Still from The Fosters at a science competition

(The Fosters via Freeform)


Now you're all set to write a successful list of New Year's Resolutions with goals, deadlines and feasibility in mind. For a little inspiration to kickstart your own resolutions, check out how one girl prepared for her very first half-marathon HERE.