How to make realistic New Year’s resolutions

It is a tradition to sit down at the end of the calendar year and set resolutions for the next. People all over the world make promises to better themselves, only to break them later. Just like how the diet starts on Monday, it seems to be that the “new” me starts in the new year.

In January, gyms flood with people keen to make lifestyle changes and shops and restaurants are quieter as people try to prioritise spending. Heads filled with bright ideas about the idealized new person they are bound to become, every New Year’s Eve offers a promise, and New Year’s Day marks a fresh start. By the end of the month, however, many have abandoned their initial goals as life has gotten in the way and they find themselves lacking the motivation they had after a Christmas break.

Without really thinking of the challenging work set ahead of them in the new year, people are blinded by the visions of the “new” and improved versions of themselves. Expecting to go from Christmas couch potatoes whose days are consumed with eating their body weight in mince pies, perhaps only venturing out occasionally for a leisurely walk, to the ultimate healthy eater who never misses a gym session is foolish. The problem with many New Year’s resolutions are how broad and frankly, big, they are. Realistically, making drastic changes, often altering lifestyle choices, are hard to keep to, and demoralising when they fail.

To achieve any real change, it is crucial to create reasonably achievable goals, pushing you out of your comfort zone without exhausting your motivation. For example, if you want to focus on your health this year, don’t jump straight into an intense fitness regimen and cut out all your favourite foods. Not only is this change destined for disaster, it would also set you up for a miserable new year. Instead, choose primary problem areas that are having a real effect on your health. If there are foods you cannot resist, resolve not to keep it in the house, or at least not in multi-packs that might result in binge eating later. If you find yourself without the motivation to go to the gym, try asking a friend to come with you, or join a sports team who will push you.

Creating these smaller goals does not set you up for failure. It creates a pattern of achieving and boosts your morale, instead of sending you into a spiral of despair. Don’t create the same resolutions as last year, even though you failed because things just “got in the way”. If it didn’t work last year, chances are it won’t work this year. So, if your New Year’s Resolutions never seem to work, or have already failed, learn to be kind to yourself and learn to celebrate the seemingly minor changes you’re implementing, because these will ultimately lead to much more success.



Sioned Griffiths