Working toward your New Year’s resolutions won’t always be easy, but you can make it less difficult to manage by following a few simple but effective tips.

Now that you’re fully into 2020, it’s time to take stock of how your recent New Year’s resolutions are holding up. Have you held true to your vow to write more, lose weight or spend more time with family? Or have you found that meeting your goals is a little more difficult than you anticipated?

If you’re like most people, it’s likely that you’ve faced challenges to your new aspirations and some may have already started to fall by the wayside in the hustle and bustle of daily life. While it can sometimes seem difficult to prioritize self-improvement — both in and out of addiction recovery — it’s something that can definitely be accomplished. Here are five ways to help you stick to your resolutions and make 2020 your best year yet:

1. Define Your Goals Clearly

The first step in changing any behavior is to clearly define the things that you want to change. You might say that your New Year’s resolution is to “get in shape,” but what does that really mean? Do you want to lose 10 pounds? Is your goal to run 5 miles without stopping? Or maybe it’s actual reaching a specific body fat percentage?

Clearly defining your goals can help you identify the resources, strategies and tools you’ll need to accomplish them. Once you’ve done that, you can start to take small, incremental steps to achieve your resolutions.

2. Understand Your “Why”

When it comes down to it, most resolutions are just ways that people wish they could change. If you don’t connect these desires to larger goals or motivations, however, it can be easy to give up once the work of making small, daily changes begins.

Take time to write down reasons why your New Year’s resolutions are important to you and how you plan to achieve them. By clearly outlining your resolutions, you can remind yourself of the ways your goals will improve your health and happiness. With these benefits in mind, you’ll be more motivated to stay committed, even when the going gets tough.

3. Seek Accountability

Finding ways to hold yourself accountable to your resolution can dramatically increase the odds of success. As embarrassed or vulnerable as it may make you feel, don’t shy away from talking to your family and friends about your resolutions. If someone close to you is also committed to fulfilling a New Year’s resolution, set aside time each week to chat with them about your progress or setbacks.

Joining groups of people with the same goals, such as a running club or group of co-workers committed to eating healthy foods, can also be beneficial. Knowing that the people around you are also working to improve themselves can make your resolution feel more attainable and help you stay encouraged.

4. Track Your Progress

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and your New Year’s resolutions won’t be either. Most goals can only be achieved through consistent choices you make each day. When you measure and keep track of days that you do fulfill your goals, you can easily reflect on how far you’ve come. This is particularly important on days when you need some extra motivation or encouragement.

Tracking your progress can also help you identify any obstacles or setbacks in the way of your goals, which allows you to adjust your efforts accordingly. Whether you use a phone app, spreadsheet, bullet journal, planner or a simple piece of paper, documenting your growth each day makes you more likely to achieve the results you want.

5. Accept Slip-Ups

Don’t give up on your New Year’s resolution if you forget about it for a few days, weeks or even months. Doing something is always better than doing nothing. Perfection is impossible, and progress is never linear. Though your motivation levels will inevitably fluctuate, what matters most is that you continue trying to improve yourself.

If you can’t save a full 5% of your income this month because of emergency car repairs, put away as much money as you can manage. If you have a cold and feel too sick to go for a run, take a leisurely walk around your neighborhood instead. If you forget about your resolutions for a few weeks after a breakup, forgive yourself. As life coach and author Tony Robbins says, “No matter how many mistakes you make or how slow you progress, you are still way ahead of everyone who isn’t trying.”

Accomplishing your goals is rarely easy, but it’s always worth it. The hard work you put in now could reward and enhance your life in ways you never thought possible. So push past your initial discomfort, brave through blunders and, most importantly, don’t forget to enjoy yourself in the process.

Megan Hull
By – Megan Hull
Megan Hull is a content specialist who edits, writes and ideates content to help people find recovery. Read more
Jonathan Strum
Editor – Jonathan Strum
Jonathan Strum graduated from the University of Nebraska Omaha with a Bachelor's in Communication in 2017 and has been writing professionally ever since. Read more

Tony Robbins. “No matter how many mistakes you make or […] who isn’t trying.” Twitter, December 29, 2017. Accessed December 27, 2019.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.