Setting Realistic New Year’s Resolutions: What to Keep in Mind

Each year, 45% of Americans make resolutions — and only 8% of those people actually achieve them. Here at, we’ve had our fair share of resolution setting (and failing miserably), too. That’s why we’ve asked a few of our favorite bloggers to dish on everything from their biggest resolution flops to maintaining and achieving their 2014 resolutions. Check back each month as ShelleyCrystalJudi, and Anne-Marie coach us through selecting, setting, and maintaining our goals in this three-part series. 

Tips for Setting Realistic New Year's Resolutions

The first step to a successful resolution? Setting realistic expectations. Find out what Shelley of Forest City Fashionista, Crystal of Dressed Her Days Vintage, Judi of A Baby Boomer Woman’s Life After 50, and Anne-Marie of The Succulent Wife keep in mind when setting goals for the new year and what they’ve learned from past mistakes.

When setting out to make a resolution for yourself, what do you try to keep in mind?

Shelley: I don’t make New Year’s resolutions, as I have realized that making resolutions once a year doesn’t work for me. I prefer to have ongoing resolutions that I keep in mind over the year, which are usually more realistic and involve accomplishing smaller goals where I can actually see the results.

Crystal: Keep it simple. You’ll understand why when you read my next answer.

Judi: Since practicing yoga and mindfulness meditation, I try to set intentions at the beginning of the new year and throughout the year, rather than set big, lofty resolutions. I find resolutions to be more about the negative in one’s life. During my life after 50, I want to practice being more accepting of who I am and less judging of who I am not.

Anne-Marie: I hardly ever make resolutions now, because I end up not keeping them up, and I just get disappointed. But I have just completed a 30-days-of-yoga resolution. Actually, it was more of a commitment than a resolution. And with 30 days-worth, it’s become a habit. To keep up a resolution, there has to be a tangible, achievable goal. The “I’m going to lose 20 lbs in two weeks” type of “resolution” is a guarantee for letdown.

What have been your biggest resolution blunders in the past?

Shelley: When I did attempt to make New Year’s resolutions, they were always about making major changes in my life, like changing my spending habits, and all too quickly, I would break them and feel like a failure, rather than accepting that I should attempt to make smaller, practical changes in my behavior that were more manageable. General resolutions like “I will be more creative” or “I will eat eat healthier” don’t work with me — they need to be broken down into concrete steps I can take towards the goal of eating healthier or leading a more creative life.

Crystal: For self-improvement junkies like me, the prospect of mapping out a life that will be perfect at some future point in time is like cocaine to a crackhead. I realize this, yet I still engage in the insanity.

Here’s how I typically think: AFTER I give up sugar, grow my own vegetables, purge and organize every closet in my house, make slipcovers for my office furniture, limit the amount of time I spend online, quit judging other people, make cases for my yoga mats, make eye pillows for my students and classmates, read several books each week, play golf this summer, commit 30 minutes a day to prayer and meditation, make a purse out of some old neckties, clean the laundry room and garage, make roman shades for my patio doors, email at least one friend a day and see at least two friends each month, take 15 minutes a day to pick up the house, make 10 minutes a day to file incoming paperwork, do at least one thing each day in service to others, deepen my knowledge of online marketing, take a class on teaching yoga for kids, finish the taxes by February 15, organize all my loose recipes into notebooks, purge and label all the files in our file cabinets, do a little housework at least two evening a week, continue my fitness schedule of four workouts each week, write three blog posts a week, and volunteer for my special causes (while holding down two — no, wait a minute — three part-time jobs) my life will of course be perfect, worthwhile, and satisfying. I’ll also be 95 years old.

Judi: Most of my resolutions were about exercising. When I was younger, I wanted to run a marathon. I never had time to practice. It wasn’t a realistic goal.

Anne-Marie: To continue my answer above, I was able to successfully complete my 30-days-of-yoga because I knew that it was something I really needed (the physical challenge and the calming, spiritual aspect) and for which I saw almost immediate benefit. That was all the motivation I needed to continue.

Have any tips on resolution setting, success, or blunders? Share in the comments below or let us know on Facebook.

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