6 Important Tips for Planning Your New Year’s Resolutions

Turning the page on 2020.

new year's resolutions

We can’t believe we’re saying this, but 2019 is almost over. Cue the noisemakers, fireworks, and champagne toasts! But celebrating the new year is about a lot more than just an NYE party. It’s also about reflecting, planning, and — of course — setting new year’s resolutions.

Not all New Year’s resolutions are created equal, though! There are, in fact, best practices for setting goals in the new year, and we’re here to share them with you so you can get ready for your most wonderful, rewarding, productive year ever.

new year's resolutions

Keep scrolling for all the details about how to set the best possible New Year’s resolutions.


1. It’s important to be realistic.

We’re all about dreaming big, but we’re also all about setting ourselves up for success so that we can actually get things done! When it comes to setting New Year’s resolutions, we encourage you to do the same.

IFL Science notes the importance of being realistic with your goals for the new year. When setting resolutions, try to think in terms of specific, concrete actions so you’ll understand ahead of time what you’ll actually need to do in order to achieve your resolutions. If those specific actions don’t fit into your routine, you might want to think through your goals again or reframe what success will look like. This will ensure that you’re being realistic!

Yes, New Year’s resolutions are all about upleveling your life, but if you’re setting unrealistic goals from the beginning, you’re only setting yourself up for frustration and disappointment, which might make you feel like giving up sooner than you would otherwise.


2. You should spread the word!

new year's resolutions

Accountability partners can be a key part of accomplishing a goal at any time of the year. What better time to recruit one than when you’re taking on a New Year’s resolution?

According to Entrepreneur, an accountability partner is someone who has committed to helping you reach a goal — and you can commit to doing the same for them! Since New Year’s resolutions are most often set outside of the structure of an office or similar environment, an accountability partner from your personal life might be just the thing to ensure that you stay on track with what you’ve set out to do.

As you set your 2020 New Year’s resolutions, take time to consider who might be the best accountability partner for each one. That way, you can bring them into the process ASAP.


3. Focus on a smaller number of goals.

new year's resolutionsPer IFL Science, one of the most surefire ways to find yourself falling short on your resolutions is to take on too many at once.

To avoid this, hone in on just one or two priority resolutions. We love aiming high, but you can’t aim high on all of the things, all at once! Resist the urge to overdo it by thinking seriously about which New Year’s resolution will have the greatest positive impact on your life. If getting fit will make the biggest difference, commit to making time for more exercise (like these butt-busting workouts!). If forging a deeper connection with your family will be most beneficial, commit to more consistent time with loved ones.

Remember: once you’ve achieved success with one or two New Year’s resolutions, you can always go back and choose another goal to focus on mid-year! After all, goal-setting is allowed outside of January.


4. Going hard at the beginning can help.

If you really want to make lasting change, you obviously need to maintain consistency with your New Year’s resolutions well beyond January and February, but it doesn’t hurt to really jumpstart your goals. In fact, pursuing those goals intensely right at the beginning of the year can go a long way toward helping you accomplish them.

A study from the University of Chicago and cited in The Washington Post speaks to the power of going hard early on. In the study, college students who were focused on improving their exercise habits stepped up their fitness game much more in the long run when they were incentivized to do a month of unusually high exercise activity immediately.

What does this mean for you and your New Year’s resolutions? You should try diving into your New Year’s resolution really intensely in January and February! Your goals will benefit later in the year when you invest lots of energy up-front.


5. Treating yourself is part of the process.

new year's resolutions

Even the most motivated bulldoggers in the pack are bound to find themselves tempted to give up on their New Year’s resolutions at some point. It’s important to be prepared for when that happens! As part of your resolution-setting process, think about how you might reward yourself for small wins along the way.

Will new workout clothes after several weeks of regular yoga classes keep you feeling excited about fitness? Will an ice cream sundae once a week help you stay on track with clean eating? Figure out what will work best for you, then actually follow through on giving yourself those rewards.


6. It’s best to plan to do something — not to not do something.

Maybe you feel like you have some bad habits that you’d like to give up. We’ve all been there.

But here’s the thing — resolutions are best when they’re built around doing something, not not doing something. (Yes, that’s a double negative, but it’s science, so it’s okay.)

According to Psychology Today, these positive resolutions are a lot easier for your brain to handle than their negative equivalents. If, for example, you want to cut back on your screen time in 2020, make your new year’s resolution “read more” instead of “stop watching TV.” If you want to eat healthier, commit to more greens instead of less sweets (though, for the record, it’s important not to feel guilty about what you eat).

It might seem like these apparently minor differences in wording don’t matter, but they do! Your brain can more effectively network on intentions stated in the affirmative than in the negative. Who knew?


Keep these six tips in mind as you come up with your New Year’s resolutions for 2020

To sum it up… 

1. Keep it real. Think about the actionable steps you’ll need to accomplish in order to be successful with your resolution and make sure that you can realistically add those steps to your routine. Otherwise, you’re setting yourself up for failure!

2. Find an accountability buddy. Make sure someone else is in the loop about the goals you’d like to accomplish in the new year so that they can support you and keep you on track.

3. Don’t go overboard. Stick to one or two priority resolutions. You can always take on other goals later in the year.

4. Start with a lot of energy! Studies show that when you go hard at the beginning of a goal, there’s a better chance that you’ll be successful in the long run.

5. Reward yourself. Make a plan to celebrate small wins as you chip away at your New Year’s resolution over time. This will help you stay motivated and excited about achieving your goal!

6. Make your resolutions affirmative, not negative.  Plan to do something, rather than not to do something. Your brain will respond to this kind of goal better!

The bottom line? Being strategic about the plan to chase down your New Year’s resolutions is key to actually making them happen. We can’t wait to see what you accomplish in 2020!


Is upping your fitness game on your list of new year’s resolutions for 2020? Learn more about our class options!


Do you have any resolutions in mind already for the new year? Tell us on Instagram (Boulder | Villanova) or over on our Boulder and Villanova Facebook pages! 

***You can get the bulldog experience anywhere, anytime with our online classes or via our app (App store | Google Play)! Don’t forget to subscribe to the bulldog blog so you can get e-mail notifications about every new post.***

Featured image: Danil Aksenov/Unsplash; Women talking image: Priscilla Du Preez/Unsplash

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