Be Intentional with New Year’s Goals & Resolutions

January. It’s a time of clearing out, cleaning up and getting organized. We realign our priorities and make promises to ourselves for positive change. We decide what needs to change and we make the promise to do it. We believe ourselves. We want to succeed. But sticking to it – now that’s the challenge and often we are denied the sweet taste of success. To make the outcome different, our approach to the challenge has to be different.

Recently released data from regarding New Year’s resolutions indicates that about 45% of Americans make resolutions, but those who are intentional about it are 10 times more likely to succeed. However, only about 8% of the people who commit to change actually do succeed. Here are a few ideas to help you improve those statistics.

Step 1: Be intentional.

Write out the list of changes you’d like to work on in 2017. According to the data and the list of Top 10 New Year’s resolutions for 2015, most resolutions are health-related. They are:

  1. Lose weight
  2. Get organized
  3. Spend less, save more
  4. Enjoy life to the fullest
  5. Stay fit and healthy
  6. Learn something exciting
  7. Stop smoking
  8. Help others in their dreams
  9. Fall in love
  10. Spend more time with family

To help you successfully identify your New Year’s resolutions, recommends you consider these suggestions:

  • Choose positive resolutions that you really want to achieve.
  • Announce your resolution to those who will hold you accountable.
  • Develop a ceremony to mark the beginning of your commitment; to make it more “real” and special for you.
  • Don’t decide on goals at the last minute – take some time to think about them. Avoid reacting to your current environment and missing the big picture.
  • Questions to ask yourself to determine if you can take ownership of your resolution include:
    • Is this resolution my idea or someone else’s?
    • Does this resolution motivate and invigorate me?
    • Does this resolution sit comfortably with other factors in my life, such as my values and long-term plans?

Step 2: Narrow it down.

Now that the list has been made, narrow it to no more than three attainable resolutions.

Step 3: Break it down.

With the newly refined and manageable list of resolutions in hand, rate each one by the level of difficulty. Choose to complete the easiest goal first. Determine how much time over the course of the year it will take to complete and put friendly progress ticklers in your calendar to indicate approximate milestones. Use the calendar reminder to help you stay on track. Keep in mind, these ticklers are in place to help you, not frustrate you. Resolution milestones should serve as a guide, not be written in stone.

Step 4: Make a vision board.

On their own, these steps can only go so far. Put them all together and you know you’re doing everything you can to succeed. Some might feel silly making a vision board. Do it anyway. You don’t have to share with anyone. But man, woman, child… everyone is capable of putting together a vision board. It’s a physical or digital compilation of visuals that are meant to inspire you to stick to your goals. If anything, it forces you to really decide what is it that you want in life. It helps you focus your attention on those things. Visualization is not just for athletes. Use it and you will see the benefits. Here’s how:

  • Choose a theme to reflect your goal(s)
  • Choose images that inspire you from magazines, pictures, the internet, postcards, newspapers, etc.
  • Choose powerful words such as:
    • Learn
    • Give
    • Eat
    • Have
    • Be
    • Act
    • Grow
    • Invest
    • Quit
    • Start
    • Visit
    • Accept
    • Honor
    • Make
    • See

The words you choose should reflect your New Year’s resolutions. Cut them out along with the images from your vision board.

  • Put it all together! A corkboard, a poster board, a shadow box, even a digital format… any of these options will work as long as you are able to see your creation clearly each day. Let it inspire you.

Step 5: Don’t get discouraged.

Plan for and write down backup solutions for possible obstacles. According to Prochaska’s Transtheoretical Model (TTM), lasting change generally proceeds through six key stages, the last three of which are Action; Maintenance; and Relapse. Relapse is not a failure. Progress is the journey of success and you don’t have to give it up. YOU DID IT… a relapse can’t take that away. Don’t let it take the wind from your sails.

YOU DID IT… a relapse can’t take that away. Don’t let it take the wind from your sails.

Step 6: Push through it.

Studies show that it does take more than two months for a behavior to become a habit. Record your progress and refer to it often. You will be glad you have it documented as you continue deeper into making a permanent change. Those who succeed often use positive rewards, rather than punishments. Like an obstacle course, you will lean on your successes, anticipate and jump hurdles to stay on track and on occasion, you will falter and regress a bit. Don’t stop. Just keep your eye on the finish line and imagine the feeling of success… the sense of accomplishment when the end of the year rolls around and it’s time to think about your 2018 New Year’s resolutions.


Statistics show that about 75% of people stick to their resolutions through the first week and 71% past two weeks. Even after one month, 64% continue to progress. Past six months, 46% of people are still in keeping with their resolutions. In the last half of the year, is where the majority drop off. That’s why it is so important to go into it fully committed and intentional. Don’t relax at six months or eight months. It will take incredible amounts of energy and gumption. That’s why choosing no more than three is important.

Resolutions are tough. If they weren’t, the feeling of success wouldn’t be so profound. There’d be far more than 8% in that bracket, too. Althea Gibson said, “No matter what accomplishments you achieve, somebody helps you.” Get help, give help and remember – we’re all in this together.

About Pathways to SmartCare

Pathways to SmartCare is the Employee Wellness Program of American HealthCare Group, a preventive services firm in Pittsburgh, PA.  American HealthCare Group designs wellness programming for corporations, school districts, municipalities and other employers.

Pathways to SmartCare designs preventive services programs for employees.  We administer biometric health screenings, immunizations, Health Fairs, Lunch wellness events, on-site programming and more to our clients.

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