How to Make Resolutions You Can Keep

We all make New Year's resolutions, and we all break them. But this year can be different.

By Jeffrey Rossman, Ph.D.


Here's how to make New Year's resolutions you can keep.Have you made a New Year’s resolution you're determined to keep? One that will produce a positive change in your life? If so, I have some advice that could help you defy the improbable odds of actually keeping it.

I don’t want to sound pessimistic. In fact, I appreciate the power of optimism, as long as you temper your optimism with realism. But the sobering truth is that most New Year’s resolutions bite the dust by Valentine’s Day. Eventually, most dieters stray, smokers relapse, slobs create more clutter, and aspiring exercisers turn back into couch potatoes.

It’s not that their intentions aren’t good. Rather, when it comes to keeping New Year's resolutions, most of us stack the odds against ourselves right from the start. Although we often blame ourselves when our resolutions fail, often it's the nature of the goals themselves that sets us up for failure. Willpower and dedication cannot compensate for goals that are unrealistic, such as going cold turkey on cigarettes after smoking two packs a day for 30 years, or suddenly transforming a deeply ingrained personality trait. The good news is that by making thoughtful decisions up front, we have a much better chance of succeeding.

Want to maximize your chance of success this year? Follow the S.M.A.R.T system to set your goals or tweak the ones you've already chosen.