How to Keep Your New Year's Resolutions in 2023

Why is the New Year’s resolution, a tradition that once embodied hope, now synonymous with failure? Much of it has to do with the fact that 80 percent of people abandon their pledge by February. So, instead of asking why, we should ask: What can we do to increase our chance of success, especially as we prepare to make New Year's Resolutions for 2023?

As Everyday Warriors, you’re already heading in the right direction; you understand that success requires building healthy habits and developing positive mindsets. While important, two more parts of the equation are even more crucial: goal management and preparation.

Goal Management

Feeling overwhelmed is the most common reason New Year’s resolutions fail. That’s understandable since it can be challenging to focus on results when success seems so far off. Well, it doesn’t have to be this way. The following two steps can make even the most ambitious goals manageable.

1. Set a specific goal and define success

Decide what you want to achieve and write it down. Most people skip this step, contributing to the high-failure rate after the new year. Putting your goals on paper is the equivalent of signing a contract with yourself. Next, determine what achieving your goal looks like. Two people can have the same goal but very different definitions of success. Instead of saying that you want to lose weight, be more specific, like losing 80 pounds over the next 16 months. What you’ll have at the end of the first step is your long-term goal.

2. Break it up and plan

Now that you know what you want to achieve and what success looks like, it’s time to break your larger goals into smaller, more manageable tasks. Write down these smaller goals and the steps required to reach them. Achieving small victories will empower and motivate you. For example, if you want to lose 80 pounds, break that into five-pound increments. Also, write down how you plan to achieve your goal and how long it’ll take; maybe it’s exercising three times a week, limiting your sugar consumption, and setting a goal of losing five pounds each month. What you’ve created is a series of short-term goals, a plan to achieve them, and a realistic timeframe.

Prepare to Execute

Here’s a little New Year’s trivia before jumping into our next part. Who do scholars credit with being the first to adopt the tradition of making annual resolutions?

A.) Romans
B.) Babylonians
C.) Assyrians

If you said the Romans, you are…wrong. The correct answer is the Babylonians, an ancient culture that existed in Mesopotamia from 1894 BC to 539 BC. The tradition dates back four millennia to Akitu, a 12-day festival in mid-March celebrating the spring barley harvest.

Let’s get back to helping you make good on your 2023 New Year’s resolution. After setting, defining, and writing down your short- and long-term goals, it’s time to move on to the third and fourth steps.

3. Prepare

Many confuse planning and preparation, some even use the terms interchangeably, but they’re far from the same. While you can plan on baking an excellent apple pie, if you don’t buy the right ingredients, preheat the oven, and follow the recipe, you’ll fail. Let’s use our weight-loss goal as an example. Preparation may mean getting what you need to cook healthy meals, buying running shoes, and joining a gym. No matter how much you plan, you must start preparing at some point. Together, planning and preparation will get you ready for the final step.

4. Execute

Our new book, The Everyday Warrior, lays out a practical framework for overcoming obstacles and achieving your goals. This brings us to the final step of following through on your New Year’s resolution. In the military, we describe this step as having a bias for action. In the book, we say, “Get shit done, make shit happen, and do it all again tomorrow.” These are just different ways of saying that after you’ve planned and prepared, it’s time to execute.

It’s entirely up to you

As you head into 2023, remember that progress is a lifelong journey—not a destination. Also, when you fall (and you will fall), get back up, learn from your mistakes, and continue pushing forward because failure is a byproduct of growth. It’s all part of the process. If you’re planning on recycling the exact resolution you’ve made every year since 2018, perhaps it’s time to try something different. Now that you have the right tools, making 2023 the year you follow through on your New Year’s resolution is entirely up to you.

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