4 Tips For Making NYE Resolutions You Can Actually Keep

December 27, 2021

"Why do New Year's Resolutions fail? Mainly, because they are only a statement … there are usually no action plans, no deadlines, no backup plans." —Catherine Pulsifer

It is hard to avoid New Year's resolutions—no matter how you feel about them.

And the end of a year IS a great time for self-evaluation and setting goals for improving areas of your life where you’re not seeing the kind of growth or results you want for yourself. 

And while making New Year's resolutions is a tradition that dates back thousands of years, to ancient Babylon, for just as long, resolution-makers have been struggling to stick with them.

In 2007, a New Years' resolution success study with 3000 participants from the University of Bristol found that 88% of New Year's resolutions are unsuccessful, even though 52% of resolution makers were confident that they would be successful when making them. 

According to another New Years' resolution study in 2016, over 40% of people in the United States made at least one New Years' resolution, but less than 10% of those were successful in keeping it through 2017. 

It’s safe to say that even beyond the English-speaking world, people everywhere are making promises to achieve something in the new year that they have a 10-12% chance of actually accomplishing. Yikes.

And of course, life happens. Everyday obligations get in the way of your best intentions. It doesn’t take long for the excitement of potential change to fade into the background as more urgent needs make themselves known.

But no matter how you look at it, that is a heap of broken aspirations and disappointment.

So, how can you beat the odds and avoid making resolutions for 2022 that are likely to fail? Here are four tips for making New Year's resolutions that will increase your odds of success by 50% or more. 

1. Think Positively, But Realistically

Positive thinking is a powerful tool at any time—and even more so when it comes to New Year's resolutions. Just make sure your positivity doesn’t slip into unrealistic hopes or expectations.  

A successful New Year's resolution should fit into your daily life without being too much of a burden on time, budget, or personal relationships. 

Setting realistic goals that are relatively easy to integrate into your schedule is better than overreaching only to becoming just another statistic. 

2. Refine Your Resolutions

A vague resolution is more likely to fail than one that is specific and measurable. 

For example, setting a goal to get into better physical shape this year by joining a gym will likely get you a gym membership … and not much else. 

Instead of creating a resolution that ends in another $100 leaving your checking account each month and no significant change in your physical health, build your resolution based on how often you will and can commit to working out and what better physical health looks like for you.

For me, that looks like working out with a trainer 3x a week—without the trainer, that number quickly turns into zero. It’s good to know yourself without sugar-coating your limitations.

Next, refine your resolutions by making them S.M.A.R.T goals—specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.

So if your New Year's resolution is to "get organized," what does that mean to YOU?

Does it mean you want to organize your home, your office, or simply declutter your digital life

You could easily spend a bunch of time rearranging things and still be no closer to finding what you need when you need it … it will just appear tidier.

So instead of setting a goal of "getting organized" which is too unclear to be successful, refine your resolution by planning progress like this:

  • I will work my way through my kitchen, 1 hour a week, until every drawer and cabinet has been sorted and things I no longer use are let go.
  • I will spend 15 mins per day for the next 30 days in the following areas: Entryway, Kitchen, Clothes Closets, Bathroom
  • I will donate five things each month that I no longer use—for the next 12 months

Any of these goals will get you better organized so pay attention to any “all or nothing” thinking about what organization in the new year looks like for you.

3. Choose A Goal With Accountability

Set yourself up for New Year's resolution success by being accountable to yourself and others. 

Choose a goal that you will be both proud to tell friends and family about and equally embarrassed if you bailed on it. It has to be something you’re willing to state publicly rather than keeping it to yourself … because IT IS HARDER to quit a resolution if everyone knows that you are working towards it. 

And if you want to take accountability to the next step, find an accountability buddy to help track your progress. I have one I’ve been working with for the past 7 years and it has changed how I declare things and how I complete them.

Holding someone accountable and being held responsible is an excellent way to keep excuses at bay. 

If finding an accountability buddy on your own seems like a daunting task, consider joining an interactive online program like our Unstuff Your Life System®—you’ll instantly get a structure AND a community that will keep you honest and accountable to whatever your goals are.

4. Plan To Reward Yourself

While success IS its own reward, planning extra perks for staying on track is a great way to keep yourself motivated as you aim for your resolution goals. 

If your New Year's resolution is to lose 5 pounds per month for 12 months, you can create a series of rewards tied to hitting your weight loss goals throughout the year. 

Rewarding yourself with new experiences that you cannot do until you hit those goals will help keep you on a track to success. 

That could anything from attending a theme park to shopping for new clothes … the key is to find something you would otherwise be unlikely to do for yourself or give yourself to keep it interesting.


There’s a reason people have been setting New Year's resolutions since ancient times—at least 10% of the population DOES achieve their goals!

So they CAN be powerful tools for life changes when chosen carefully and planned out strategically. 

Just because there is a high percentage of failure does not mean that you should give up on resolutions altogether … if the idea resonates with you.  

And to increase your odds, be realistic, refine your goals from something vague or general into something specific and measurable AND seek out accountability.

By making a few small adjustments to HOW you make them, it’s possible for YOU to join that percentage of successful resolution makers in 2022. 

And if one of your life goals for 2022 is getting organized, our 5-Day De-Stress Your Mess Challenge is starting soon. For just a buck, you can get some skin in the game and get your year off to a strong start with some simple tools that will guarantee you lifelong organizational success.

Declutter Your Life Podcast by Andrew Mellen. Available on iTunes!