How to Keep a New Year’s Resolution

December 30, 2009

I’ve written about how to set New Year’s Resolutions but what’s the best way to make sure you actually reach the goals that you set? Penelope Trunk of Brazen Careerist offered up some tips on the subject today that I thought were useful enough to expand on, and her title was good as well so I borrowed it for this post:

How to Keep a New Year’s Resolution?

Penelope recommends two things I’ve mentioned before:

She also suggests:

  • Starting Small – Don’t ask yourself to accomplish the change all at once.  Let yourself ease into it.
  • Focusing on the 1st Three Weeks – The first few weeks are important to establishing your actions as a habit. Penelope shares research that suggests three weeks is the magic amount of time.
  • Goal Wording – How you phrase your goal is important, you want to be specific so you know precisely what you need to do in order to reach it.  Penelope also recommends your New Year’s Resolution be explained to describe something you want, not a goal that’s only supposed to make other people happy. This makes sense, if it’s phrased to describe something you want then you’re more likely to take action.

New Year’s Resolution Tips

Here are a few other things you can do to help make sure you keep your New Year’s Resolution:

Make it Public

If you announce your goals to others in your life then you’ll be accountable to them for making your goals happen.  If other people know that you’re supposed to do things like:

  • Start bringing your lunch to work so you can save money & build an emergency fund
  • Work overtime for funds to pay off credit card debt
  • Setup an IRA, 401k, or 403b to start saving for retirement
  • Begin a college fund for your kids

then you’ll be more likely to take action.  If you’re the only one that knows about your goal, it’s easier for you to sluff off and say to yourself “I’ll start that next year”.

Track Your Progress

The simplest way is to keep a notebook where you write down each day what you did, or didn’t do, to reach your goal.  You could combine “Make it Public” with tracking your progress and start a blog where you declare your goals and then document your progress towards them.  If you’re not comfortable sharing with the world, there are ways you can limit access to specific people in your life. 

However you do it, be sure to track your progress. Goals that aren’t tracked are less likely to be achieved.

Okay, enough about New Year’s resolutions.  You’re probably sick of reading about them for the last few days, I won’t write about them again until next year : )


Will this article help you save or earn more money? Get others like it simply by entering your email address below. Your email is used only for delivering daily money tips and you can opt out of delivery at any time. Click here to see all your free subscription options.


Ben Edwards, the founder of Money Smart Life, saved up enough to buy a Nintendo back when he was 12 years old. When he used the money to buy shares of Wal-Mart stock instead, he knew he wasn't like the other kids... His addiction to personal finance has paid off for his family and now he's helping you to afford the life that you want. Check him out on the web at Google Plus, Twitter and Facebook.

All posts by


One Response to How to Keep a New Year’s Resolution

  • Craig Ford

    I didn’t know we actually had to keep New Year’s resolutions. That takes all the fun out of making New Year’s resolutions. :).