How To Set Goals And Stick With Your New Year’s Resolutions

by Athletic Greens - 5 months ago

It’s that time of year again. I don’t know about you, but I always feel excited and ready to go after the holidays are over.

I’m looking forward to a fresh start and getting my life organized. My mind starts racing a mile a minute about what closet I’m going to clean out, which workout I’m going to dedicate myself to, and what diet I will be following.

My optimism is through the roof at this time of year. It’s refreshing to have dreams and goals for the New Year in place.

As the weeks go by, the pressure is on; I can do this!

Then February rolls around, and I suddenly lose track of all my goals and give up.

What was I eating again?

Where’s the gym again?

What happened to the person that was on fire to head to cycle class and make that green smoothie?

Why do I always start out great but then burn out?

Let’s examine why New Year’s resolutions tend to fall short and learn solutions to keep that from happening.

The Truth About New Year’s Resolutions

According to BrainStatistics, 80% of New Year’s resolutions are over by February.

That’s believable, especially considering many of us have fallen into that 80% category and can relate. Hitting our resolutions is connected to our brains.

Willpower or self-discipline, whatever you want to call it, is the solution to keeping any New Year’s resolution and achieving your goals.

Change Your Mind Before Trying To Change Everything Else

It’s imperative to work on changing your mind before you attempt to change anything else in your life.

According to an article by US News & World Report contributor and psychologist Joseph Luciani: “You build self-discipline by willfully enduring the transient discomfort of changing who and what you are. You’re not born with self-discipline; you acquire it. Like a muscle, you need to develop your self-discipline muscle, one challenge at a time. Starting today, instead of reflexively feeling a need to minimize or escape the friction involved in change, recognize instead the need to endure it.”

In other words, we need to resolve to resolve our resolutions!

We do this by establishing one goal at a time and allowing ourselves to adjust to the change. This adjustment may create discomfort as we adapt to our new habits, but we have to push through the transition to get results.

What Is Willpower?

According to the American Psychological Association page, willpower is:

  • The ability to delay gratification, resisting short-term temptations in order to meet long-term goals.
  • The capacity to override an unwanted thought, feeling, or impulse.
  • The ability to employ a “cool” cognitive system of behavior rather than a “hot” emotional system.
  • Conscious, effortful regulation of the self by the self.
  • A limited resource capable of being depleted.
    (Courtesy of the APA)

Nike® had a slogan years ago that read, Just Do It™. The slogan was famous and struck at the heart of willpower – not thinking about it, just doing it.

Making changes can be uncomfortable, but certain approaches can take us slowly towards each goal in the New Year.

Willpower And Science

There are studies on the concept of willpower. Research has shown that willpower is like a muscle and can become fatigued after being utilized for too many life tasks.

Scientists have also tied it with blood glucose levels. Perhaps this is why eating better, and diets are such a challenge!

According to the APA website, “Other evidence suggests that willpower-depleted individuals might literally be low on fuel. The brain is a high-energy organ, powered by a steady supply of glucose (blood sugar). Some researchers have proposed that brain cells working hard to maintain self-control consume glucose faster than it can replenish.”

Science suggests that those who keep their blood glucose steady can resist temptation and exhibit more self-control.

If your goal is healthy eating in the New Year, try lifestyles that promote a schedule, such as six small meals a day, to keep your blood sugar even.

Research shows keeping your blood sugar on track will mean you have more energy to overcome those tricky temptations when needed.

Developing Self-Control And Willpower

Some people have a built in knack for self discipline and self-control. If they need to lose weight, they stop eating anything bad for them. If they want to save money, they put more aside each week.

Many people, including myself, are not wired that way.

Many of us are not honest with ourselves about our lack of willpower, and we don’t work on developing the mindset it takes to hit goals.

Once we acknowledge our challenges and what tempts us, we can start to address and tackle them through the implementation of good habits.

One of the ways to develop willpower and create self-discipline is repetition and following a well thought out plan.

The American Psychological Association uses the term, “implementation intention.” This means preparing ahead of time to eliminate any obstacles that may keep you from reaching your goal.

For example, if you’re eliminating desserts and you have to attend a birthday party, plan to have a healthy alternative available when the dessert arrives.

Work the Plan And Resolve Not To Quit

Years ago, I took a financial class and heard Dave Ramsey speak about a concept he refers to as “gazelle intensity.”

The example he paints is that of a gazelle outrunning a cheetah. The gazelle moves and darts in numerous directions and circles to wear the cheetah out.

Cheetahs are fast, but the speed comes from when they run in a straight line, not in circles.

Ramsey uses this picture to teach people how to attack debt – working as hard as a gazelle would when it is trying to escape the cheetah.

We can use the same approach when setting a goal to meet a resolution in the New Year. Have a plan in place; execute it with gazelle intensity as much as you can.

When you have a bad day, forgive yourself. The key is to get back up again and keep going with your plan.

Keep darting from temptation and willpower depletion to outrun the cheetah. Persistence is the key to conquering the goal.

Set Attainable Goals And Resolutions – One At A Time

One of the most common mistakes people make in the New Year is making too many resolutions. Experts say that setting too many goals at one time is not doable and can result in failure.

According to the American Psychological Association, “The evidence from willpower-depletion studies also suggests that making a list of resolutions on New Year’s Eve is the worst possible approach.”

Get rid of the long list, just pick one thing you are going to change, and work on changing it.

The APA says studies show, “Being depleted in one area can reduce willpower in other spheres, so it makes more sense to focus on a single goal at a time.”

Some examples of too many goals would be quitting smoking and becoming vegan and gluten-free all at the same time.

Those are lofty goals that could lead to frustration and failure real fast. We should focus on only one idea at a time to ensure success.

Taking Small Steps And Hitting Milestones

Another key to victory is setting goals that are attainable and performed in smaller steps. For example, if you start attending a gym, instead of setting a goal to go seven days a week, start with three times a week.

You are just adding this resolution to your busy schedule; there will be days you may have to change your routine, so make it flexible and doable.

You can work up to the bigger goal later once you achieve the three times a week milestone. The feeling and results you will receive from hitting your milestone will push you to want more.

Don’t Make Impossible Promises – Be Realistic

Be realistic when living your life and making changes to it. Don’t make vows to yourself that you will run five miles a day, seven days a week when you haven’t worked out in two years.

You are destined to fail with such a high hurdle in place.

While that is a noble fitness goal, it is not realistic and when you can’t physically do it, you will give up feeling discouraged.

Set small goals that you know you can reach. Start off walking a couple of miles a day, a few times a week and then work up to running. Remember, it’s all about self-discipline, having a plan and working it.

Conquering The Most Popular Resolution

According to, the top New Year’s Resolutions are, “lose weight” and “healthier eating.”

Once you’ve established that the way to conquer goals is through willpower, you can create a game plan.

As previously discussed, pick one goal and go at it with intensity! If losing weight and healthier eating is also your resolution, there are some additional tips below you can utilize, along with your willpower to be successful.

You can also apply these tips to many other goals such as making better financial decisions by saving more for retirement, or making self-improvements such as giving up smoking or creating life/work balance.

Additional Tips For Keeping Your Goals And Resolutions

Motivational Challenges

For losing weight and a healthy diet, many people find success with creating challenges and contests with each other to make the experience fun, accountable, and to also maintain motivation. allows you to set up a betting pool with friends and family to reach your health and weight loss goals.

If you don’t have anyone who wants to join, then you can join other betting groups through the site and compete with them. They offer kickstarter, transformer, and maintainer options with rewards to win money and stay on goal.

Tracking Goals And Rewards

You can set up a rewards system and track your goal achievements. When you hit a milestone, say, losing ten pounds or two inches, write it down and celebrate with a new inspirational book or a new pair of workout shoes.

It’s important to track your results, that way on the days where you feel depleted or your willpower is low, you can review your successes and keep going.

Build A Support System

To accomplish any goal, you need the support of those around you. Join a support group such as Overeaters Anonymous or a myfitnesspal group and develop accountability.

Journal your feelings or keep a food diary to stay on track.

If something such as giving up bread or quitting drinking is your goal, then let those around you know what your boundaries are and the kind of support you need from them to be successful.

Workout Buddy

If you want to pursue regular exercise, find a health and fitness buddy who has similar goals and resolutions so you can workout together and motivate each other to achieve results.

NBC News reported that, “One study states 95 percent of those who started a weight-loss program with friends completed the program, compared to a 76 percent completion rate for those who tackled the program alone. The friend group was also 42 percent more likely to maintain their weight loss.”

Find a friend and start walking with them or encouraging each other on your healthy eating goals.

Regular group classes are also a great motivator and support. You may even make some new lifelong friends in the process.

Find A Greater Purpose

Health goals that can change our lifespan and future, and enhance the lives of those around us are the greatest resolutions of all.

When we think about what could be on the line with disease, diabetes, or high blood pressure, we suddenly have a strong intention to hit a goal.

In other words, sometimes getting healthy to look good in a new pair of jeans isn’t enough. We all want to look good in skinny jeans until we see those cupcakes in the window!

We quickly forget about the vanity goal, but if we know our health goals are for our family, longevity, and survival, we are more likely to skip the cupcakes.

Think about what’s important in life and tie that thought around your goal to give it a stronger purpose.

What Is Your New Year’s Resolution?

What is your one important resolution this year? Join the conversation with us on setting goals and let us know.

Remember – just pick one goal and stick with it. Create a plan and execute it. If you fail one day, get back up the next. Don’t give up!

In the next year, is your goal to become healthier from the inside out?

Why not add a daily serving of Athletic Greens into the mix? Our amazing formula provides 11 supplements, and antioxidants equivalent to 12 servings of vegetables. It’s sure to give you the energy and nutrition to reach any of your New Year’s resolutions.

Good luck!

If you want to take your self discipline to the next level, why not give meal planning a go?

We’ve written a whole article on it, and we’ve also created a handy meal planning template to get you started. Download it free below.