How to Stick with Your Resolutions

We’re a month into the new year, which makes this a great time for an open thread on New Year’s resolutions — specifically, how to stick with your resolutions past January. So tell us: Did you (like 41% of Americans) make New Year’s resolutions for 2018? How are you doing so far? Did you set personal resolutions, work resolutions, or both?

Here are a couple of stats that may or may not be surprising: During the first week of the year, 72.6% people keep their resolutions, but come February, only 58.4% are still on track. If you’re not doing as well as you hoped (or even if you are), here are a few tips on how to stick with your resolutions:

  1. If you’re disappointed with your progress on February 1, don’t give up. January 1 is an arbitrary starting point, anyway (as I was recently reminded by this Onion story: “Earth’s Successful Completion Of Orbit Around Sun Inspires Woman To Reflect On Eating Habits).” Just because you aren’t doing a spectacular job with your resolutions when February rolls around doesn’t mean you won’t stick to them for the next month, or six months, or year, and so on.
  2. Everyone’s heard that it’s best to “set SMART” goals, but did you make sure your New Year’s resolutions involved SMART goals? Examples of non-SMART goals that you may be striving for in vain: “Eat healthier,” “Read more,” “Get more sleep.” Review your resolutions to make sure you know exactly what you’re striving for and how to know when you’ve accomplished it.
  3. If you haven’t set smaller goals within your main goal, try doing that to keep yourself motivated along the way. Write a chart, use an app, etc. — somehow track your gradual progress during the year instead of striving to do something (or do something regularly) by the end of 2018. (I don’t let the fact that I’m an adult stop me from using sticker charts as motivation. Whatever works!)
  4. Consider if simply emphasizing a theme for the year would work better for you. Kat explained this in our resolutions post from 2016 about deciding on a one-word theme rather than making a traditional resolution.
  5. Even if you haven’t done as well as you hoped, celebrate your successes so far — they may be small, but they’re still something … and something is better than nothing.

If you made New Year’s resolutions, what are they? Are you happy with your progress so far? If so, what do you think is contributing to your success? If not, why do you think it’s not going well at the moment? Have you revised your resolutions to something more realistic if needed? What has made you successful or unsuccessful in years past? (Anyone out there like sticker charts too?)

Image: Stencil.

Professional women discuss how to stick with your resolutions past January by setting SMART goals, celebrating achievements, and other tips for success.



  1. In-House in Houston :

    Ladies, do any of you have an suggestions for where to stay in Lake Tahoe? I’m thinking I want to stay in South Lake Tahoe which is in California, but I’m not 100% sure of that. We’re going in June for our anniversary. I’d like to stay somewhere on the lake with a view. Any other suggestions are appreciated. TIA!!!

    • Incline Village, on the Nevada side. The Hyatt is really nice, but there are lots of other little inns in that area.

    • The Landing in South Lake Tahoe may be my favorite place in the United States… My husband and I discovered it about 3 years ago and have been back 3 times (and are planning another trip). Been there in ski season and in the fall, but would also be amazing in spring and summer. Look it up – it’s just fantastic!!

  2. Money Diet :

    2018 is my year to get on top of debt that I racked up due to terrible excuses. I’m in crushing mode.

    Today I just paid off in-full the most offensive credit card! literally it’s had a balance on it since, erm, maybe 2013 or 2014 :((((((( now to keep it off, pay off my HELOC, look into refi for law school loans, etc. I’m so excited for myself!

  3. So my resolution theme was self-care and taking back time for myself. Specifically, I wanted to focus on exercise, reading for pleasure and mindfulness (through meditation or yoga). I’m doing a fantastic job on exercise. I’m only focusing on workout formats that I really like, listening to my body on intensity, and my progress encourages me to keep going. I could put some more effort into making time for pleasure reading instead of playing on my phone. I mean, there’s not much I am getting out of the junk articles I find on social media so this should hopefully be easy to make a switch. Deliberate mindfulness has fallen by the wayside, but I’m finding that the increased exercise seems to be filling that gap for reduction of stress and anxiety.

    • Putting down the d*mn phone and making a point of reading physical books again was a decision I made a little over a year ago and it has been a very good one.

  4. Anonymous :

    I’m doing the no-shopping challenge this year. I’ve survived the first month, including a big test of resolve (going to NYC kid-free, going to a fancy dinner and seeing a show. I didn’t buy a new outfit for the weekend!).

    • I am doing the same challenge. I have been using my money on live entertainment and it is going great so far. My weekends are busy having fun and don’t have time to go browse stores to buy things I don’t need. Luckily, I am not a big online shopper.

  5. I’ve been offered a spot on a PhD programme in Canada (stipend + health insurance for 5 years). I am European and so is my boyfriend. I would like to take the spot but not without my boyfriend! However Canadian immigration rules seem to be saying international students can bring spouses but not boyfriends. He could try for a working holiday visa but it’s a « lottery » system so not sure it’d work out.

    How crazy would it be to advance the idea to him that we could get married so that I can bring him with me? We’ve been together over five years but I am only 22. He is a couple years older. We’ve talked about marriage but timeline was more when I finish my phD not now!

    I am aware this sounds premature but I am at a loss. I don’t want to miss out on this opportunity but I also don’t want to move on the other side of the world alone…

    • Anonymous :

      I think it is pretty crazy to get married just so he can move with you now. Take the spot in the PhD program. Keep dating the boyfriend. You are not committing to long distance for five years by doing this. If after a year or two of dating long distance, your relationship with him is still strong and growing as you hoped and you are both fed up with the distance, then maybe at that point talk about getting married and him moving. I don’t see why he needs to come with you immediately.

    • I know people that have done this. They were in a committed relationship and had planned to get married in the next year or two. One of them got a job opportunity in the states, and the other would not have been able to join unless they got married. They got married and they both came to the states. It worked for them. But whether or not this is the right decision for you is completely up to you.

    • Josephine :

      Do you want to marry him? That is the first question.

    • Don’t marry him.

      Two things jumped out at me: you’ve been together for five years but want to wait another five to commit. Usually, that’s a sign that you aren’t the right people for each other. Once you’re out of university and have been together more than a year or two, you either know (and want to get married) or are putting off the inevitable because the relationship is comfortable.

      That brings me to my second point: you don’t want to move to Canada alone. Having been partnered and at/near home your entire life, it sounds like you want a support system and not a husband.

      Now, maybe Internet comments aren’t always the paragon of precision, but that’s what jumped out at me.

      • Disagree with the first paragraph here – you’re so young! You’re not crazy for considering marriage but you do need to think about whether you really want to do it. This isn’t a popular opinion but marriage isn’t unbreakable – just make sure to get a prenup so its easy if you do wind up breaking up!

        • What I hate about this s*te is that if I defend the idea that marriage is forever (or you should at least go into it with the expectation that it is forever), I would be excoriated, but no one will slam you for undermining one of the most fundamental and important of human institutions.

          Really hate it.

          • Eh, I think there’s always someone willing to criticize. Pretty sure YOU just “slammed” prior poster for “undermining one of the most fundamental and important of human institutions.” It is totally valid to feel that marriage is a sacred institution that should not be entered into lightly, and certainly not with the idea that it isn’t forever. It’s equally valid to feel that, since governments got into the business of granting marriage licenses and offering tax and other benefits contingent upon state-recognized marriage, it’s just another civil institution — there’s no reason forming a corporation is forever, what does forming a marriage need to be? And then there’s people like my parents, who viewed marriage as a sacrament but also one they would only participate in so long as they were both happy. Forty years later, they’re still committed, and I think it’s safe to say they’ll be “forever” marrieds.

            I’m on team marriage-is-forever FOR ME, but I don’t care what other people do.

      • Anonymous :

        The fact that it’s a European couple would make me less inclined to think that not getting married so far was a sign that they aren’t that committed.

        My DH is European and the vast majority of his university friends are in long term (10/20 years plus) relationships with kids and are not married. Quebec is a bit the same that people tend to live common law in a committed way long term way vs. get married.

      • Anonymous :

        Totally disagree with your first paragraph. I was not ready to get married at 22 and definitely would not have married then even if I’d been dating my husband for several years at that point. I was raised with the expectation that I was going to some kind of graduate school after college and that I would not be a ‘real adult’ until I finished graduate school. I absolutely would not have gotten married until I was done with or at least well into graduate school. None of my friends with advanced degrees married before age 25 and the vast majority married between ages 27 and 32. In contrast, many of my high school friends were raised with the expectation that college was the end of the road in terms of education and once they graduated they would get a real job, buy a home and in pretty much all ways be a self-sufficient adult, and they felt much more ready to get married at age 22. I think this kind of thing is largely cultural and in lots of cultures getting married at 22 is just seen as way too young, even if you have been together a long time and are super committed.

      • Disagree with the paragraph that wanting to wait on marriage is a indication that he’s not the right person. I think that this is very cultural- when I first came to America 1.5 years ago I was shocked by the number of people who don’t consider a relationship “real” unless you are married and who leap into marriage so quickly and so young. This is a cultural lens which is not universal!

    • Lana Del Raygun :

      If you know you want to marry him, why wait? If you don’t or you’re not sure, don’t do it just for immigration purposes. But if your real question is whether 25 is Too Young To Get Married, the answer to that is no, 25 is plenty old enough! :)

      • Josephine :

        And 29 is not too young to get divorced either (says the lady who just did that). It’s not about how old you are, it’s about whether the relationship warrants that step.

      • Never too many shoes... :

        But she is 22 years old, not 25. And I think 22, having been partnered since she was a child (age 17) IS too young to get married. The OP has not lived outside of this relationship.

        OP, honestly, leave your boyfriend behind and take this great adventure on your own. Your whole life is in front of you and you owe it to yourself to explore all your options.

        • Lana Del Raygun :

          Oh, I misread that. But I still don’t think it’s too young! “You owe it to yourself to explore all your options” has never really made sense to me, since people have semi-infinite options and can never explore them all, and I don’t see the point of exploring options you’re not interested in just to explore them.

    • Are you ready to be married? Do you want to be married to him? If you were both staying in the same place, would you marry him tomorrow? If no, what is the reason for waiting? Would taking this program change that reason- assume for purposes of this exercise that it would not require a move across an ocean.
      How transferable is he? What’s the plan if he’s unemployed? That may cause some serious resentment. Do you have to make the decision right now? Could you try this for a year and then re-visit if you want to get married? I’m not trying to be a downer here because obviously with the right person and circumstances this could turn into the successful adventure for both of you. Try and figure out how much of this is you wanting to be with this person forever and how much of this is you wanting to take along a security blanket because you don’t want to try scary new place alone.
      At 22, I moved to a city where I knew no one to a part of the US that was completely different from any place I’d ever lived in all the major ways, including climate. It was horribly lonely the first month and then law school started and I suddenly had plenty of ways to fill the hours and met plenty of people. It was one of the best things I’ve ever done and I learned so much by getting out of my comfort zone.

      • Thank you for this comment, it’s giving me lots to think about along with all the others (sorry for not replying to every comment I don’t want to spam everyone/repeat myself too much).

        My bf is a HR assistant/admin person at the university I am currently doing my MSc at so the hope is he would get an admin job in one of the universities in the city we’d be moving to. English is his first language so no problems here and there is a big community if people from his country in Canada.

        Our reasons for not getting married is that we were so young when we got together and don’t really feel like we’re mature enough I guess. We both want to spend our lives together and the plan was to live our lives, travel, and when we’re closer to 30, I’m done with my PhD and we have money and feel old enough pull the plug. Where I am from people get married around 30 so most of my friends/family would probably be shocked if I got married. Hope this provides some context.

        Regarding the comments that I am just scared because I haven’t lived for real yet – I see the point and I am obviously biased but I genuinely don’t think this is the case. I am from country A and met my boyfriend in country B where I did my undergrad, we also did long distance for a year so I could take an internship abroad in country C (all European countries with minimal culture shocks though). I moved on my own to a new country permanently aged 16 to start university and haven’t lived with family since. I’ve lived with host families, roommates, by myself, and with my boyfriend. I’ve been in college, in a job, back in college etc – I understand I’m young and stupid but I honestly don’t think I only want my bf to come with me because I am scared. I mean I AM scared but also I don’t want to do long distance

        Sorry for this very « stream of consciousness » comment I hope it’s still intelligible!

        Through reading comments and writing this one I am realising that I actually don’t want to get married yet but I do want my boyfriend to come with me (or visit for long periods of time throughout the phd). We will look into visitor visas and see what happens.

        Thank you everyone for your help!!

    • Anonymous :

      Can he stay for 6 months on a visitors visa and look for work? He might be able to apply for an employer specific work permit from within Canada. Is he Francophone? There are express entry options for Francophones who will live outside Quebec.

    • Anonymous :

      I did Canada – Europe long distance for two years before getting married. Is long distance an option while you settle into your program? Will give you some breathing room to decide about marriage.

    • arundhati :

      I’m sure people will caution you against this, but I’d have done it TBH

  6. I’m not saying anything new here, but the way that I have been able to maintain exercise as a regular part of my life is to do something I enjoy, that is easy to get to. For me, that means doing strength training videos at home. I’ve tried so many other things and this has been the only exercise that I managed to stick with all throughout 2017. So no new resolutions, just to continue what I’ve been doing. I’ve gone 2 percentage points in body fat, which I’m pleased with, and everything fits so much better.

    • Yay!!! That is so great!

    • I exercise with a Fitbit! Dad tracks me on the fitbit, and now I see how the GPS works so Dad can watch me. Dad was not happy that Myrna used my Fitbit b/c I wound up with 23,000 steps last weekend. Now he wants me to wear some dogwalking app called WAG! b/c it is NOT subject to manipulation and dad can see the map and where I am and how fast I am moving. FOOEY!

      Does anyone in the HIVE use WAG! for their dog walking? If you do you can watch to make sure your dog walker is actually walking your dog, and where he is walking your dog! It’s great, but your dog has to wear this app on his collar. I am NOT going to wear that app on my neck, b/c it is stupid looking, all b/c Dad does not think I am doing my steps. Who in the HIVE uses WAG? Is it worth it? I hope so. YAY!!!!!

  7. I keep my resolutions by not making any.

    The one goal I have right now is to be in better touch with my long term friends, and I’m chipping away at that, but it’s not related to January 1.

  8. My resolution was to get back in the habit of reading (non-work-related) stuff. To be honest, this was my resolution in 2017 and 2016, too, and it didn’t go as well as I’d hoped.

    This year, I decided to try making it easier by carving out time to read in the tub before I go to bed, and so far, so good! It’s not an every day thing, and might never be, but I’ve been consistent about getting around to it at least a couple times a week.

  9. I think that this is very cultural- when I first came to America 1.5 years ago I was shocked by the number of people who don’t consider a relationship real.

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