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Four Tips for Creating Realistic New Year’s Resolutions

Forty to 45% of Americans will make a New Year’s Resolution this year. Surprisingly, come summer 2013, 40-46 % of those individuals will have been successful at keeping their resolutions, according to John Norcross, psychology professor at University of Scranton. Why do more than half of all people who make a New Year’s Resolution fail to keep it? Unrealistic goals.


A resolution to lose weight, cut out junk food, stop drinking soda, or get more exercise can be difficult to attain because it is either too broad, or unspecific. If you plan to make a New Year’s Resolution for 2013, Professor Norcross offers four tips to making a realistic resolution you can actually keep:

  1. Make short, attainable goals – Give yourself short, attainable goals to help you reach your resolution. Break your resolution down by month or even week. Set small goals you can accomplish each month that will lead to reaching your final goal.
  1. Develop a specific action plan – A plan to be more organized or to get fit won’t get you far unless you have a plan of action. Schedule an appointment with a professional organizer who can teach you organizational skills. Join a local running club or get connected with a personal trainer who can help you develop a plan to achieve your fitness goals.
  1. Be confident in your plan – If you don’t believe you can achieve your goals, you’re only setting yourself up for failure. Celebrate small victories to help you maintain momentum as you work toward the bigger goal. Surround yourself with individuals who will cheer you on in the process.
  1. Seek accountability from others – Keep your resolution to yourself, and you’re more likely to give up when things get tough. Tell others who can keep you accountable and you’ll not only have cheerleaders to encourage you along the way, but someone to keep you motivated when you’d rather give up. We’re all more likely to do what we set our mind to do when we know others are watching.

A New Year’s Resolution should be something that moves you toward becoming a more positive, healthy individual. A resolution that results in you isolating yourself from friends to focus on your goal, or adhering to unrealistic and unhealthy diet restrictions is not a healthy resolution. Asking others to be involved in your New Year’s Resolution journey can also help ensure you stay healthy along the way. Share not only your end goal with others but also what you intend to do along the way to achieve that goal.


If you stumble along the way, you aren’t a failure. No great thing is ever accomplished without a little struggle. Be realistic and know that the time may come when you mess up, and be prepared to handle the emotions that come with it. Rather than beat yourself up and quit, get up, brush yourself off and try again. Encourage yourself to do better next time, and to just keep going. Oftentimes, we will find that true success is in the journey, not the outcome.

If you struggle with an eating disorder such as anorexia, bulimia or overeating, seek help from a professional. A trained professional can help you develop realistic goals to help you keep your New Year’s Resolution without compromising your emotional or physical well-being.