Making and Keeping New Year's Resolutions

This article will provide students with practical tips and strategies to help make and keep New Year's resolutions.

By Justina Thompson — January 23, 2024

Making and Keeping New Year's Resolutions

The start of a Gregorian New Year is a perfect time for a fresh start, and one of the most popular ways to achieve this is by making New Year's resolutions. However, as we all know, it can be challenging to keep these resolutions for more than a few weeks — especially as a busy student! This article will provide students with practical tips and strategies to help make and keep New Year's resolutions.


The first step in making any New Year's resolution is to set clear and specific goals. Instead of making vague or overly ambitious resolutions, it's essential to set achievable and measurable goals that have a clear purpose and motive. For example, instead of saying "I want to get fit this year," try setting a specific goal like "I will exercise for 30 minutes every day and lose 5lbs by the end of February." These are called SMART Goals. Newsroom contributor Mackenzie Roberts explains, "SMART is an acronym that stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant/realistic, and timely. The hope is that these elements combined create a framework that provides a clear path to attaining whatever goal you have in mind." Once you have clear and specific goals, you are more likely to stay motivated and focused on achieving them.


Another critical aspect of making and keeping New Year's resolutions is to prioritize your goals. It can be tempting to make a long list of resolutions, but this can be overwhelming and lead to failure. Instead, prioritize your resolutions and focus on one or two that are most important to you. You can always add more goals later if you achieve them or if you find you have additional time or resources.

Develop a Plan

Once you have set your goals and prioritized them, it's time to develop a plan to achieve them. A goal without a plan is just a wish, so it's essential to break down your resolutions into smaller achievable steps. If your resolution is to exercise for 30 minutes every day, for example, break it down into smaller steps, such as finding a workout buddy, setting a workout schedule, and purchasing workout gear. Planning helps to ensure that you have specific actions to take to achieve your goals and helps you stay on track.


Accountability is another critical factor in making and keeping New Year's resolutions. It's crucial to have someone, such as a friend or family member, to hold you accountable for your progress. Sharing your goals with others will help you stay committed and motivated and make you more likely to stay on track. Additionally, keeping a journal or using a goal-tracking app can be useful tools for accountability and tracking your progress.

Finally, it's essential to celebrate your successes, no matter how small they are. Celebrating your progress and achievements will help keep you motivated and committed to your goals. You can celebrate your successes with small rewards, such as treating yourself to a favorite snack or activity, or inviting a friend to celebrate with you.

Keeping New Year's Resolutions

Staying committed to your resolutions should also include scaffolding for time management and self-care. Having firm foundations of these things in place — with some planning and community — makes your goals entirely achievable.

Time Management

One of the most significant barriers to keeping New Year's resolutions is time management. College students have a lot on their plates, from attending classes to completing assignments, participating in extracurricular activities, and maintaining a social life. Newsroom contributor Luke Stellick writes, "There are many ways to fill in the time between classes and schoolwork, and your free time can be a relaxing breath of fresh air. But why should you have a daily game plan, and how is it different than a schedule?" To read more about time management, check out Luke's existing SAGE Scholars Newsroom article. For now, it's crucial to make time management a priority when making and keeping resolutions.

Start by assessing your current schedule and identifying areas where you can carve out time for your resolutions. Can you wake up earlier to exercise? Can you skip watching TV to study or work on a personal project? Once you have identified your available time, make a schedule or a to-do list that includes all your activities, including your resolutions. Set realistic deadlines and be careful not to overcommit yourself. Remember, it's better to achieve one or two goals effectively than to spread yourself too thin and risk failure. Sometimes, starting small will yield bigger results.


Another critical aspect of making and keeping New Year's resolutions is self-care. College students often neglect self-care as they prioritize schoolwork and other responsibilities. However, self-care is essential for maintaining mental and physical well-being, which is critical to achieving your resolutions.

Incorporate self-care activities into your daily routine, such as meditation, journaling, and exercise. Make sure you are getting enough sleep and eating healthy foods that nourish your body and brain. Taking care of yourself will provide you with the energy and motivation you need to achieve your goals. For more information on self-care — especially when on a budget — check out our Newsroom article: Self-Care on a Student Budget : Twelve Practical Ways to Make Life in College Better

Overcoming Obstacles

No matter how well you plan, obstacles are bound to come up as you work towards achieving your New Year's resolutions. Life is unpredictable, and challenges such as stress, illness, and unexpected events can throw you off track. However, it's essential to have strategies in place for overcoming these obstacles and keeping your resolutions on track.

Be flexible and willing to adjust your goals as needed. If you get sick and can't exercise for a few days, don't give up on your resolution altogether. Instead, adjust your plan. Maybe you can do a lighter workout or exercise for a shorter time. The key is to keep moving forward and not let setbacks derail your progress.

Another helpful strategy is to stay motivated by reminding yourself of your why. Why did you make this resolution, to begin with? What will achieving this goal do for you? Keeping your why at the forefront of your mind will help you stay focused and motivated, even when faced with obstacles.

Community Accountability

New Year's resolutions can be challenging to keep, especially if you try to go at it alone. A strong support system can make all the difference in helping you achieve your goals. Building a community for accountability is one way to stay motivated and on track. Here are some tips on how to build a community for accountability for your New Year's resolutions.

Find Like-Minded People

Look for people who share similar goals and interests. You can find these people in various places, such as online forums, social media groups, or local Meetup groups. You can even get creative and join the ever-evolving discord platform — or other social media groups — and participate actively in discussions. This will help you connect with people who are committed to achieving similar goals.

Create a Support System

Once you have identified like-minded people, create a support system. Discuss your goals with them and ask for their support. You can also offer your support to others in the group. Encourage each other, share tips, and celebrate successes together. Having a support system will help you stay motivated and accountable.

Set Regular Check-In's

Set aside time for regular check-ins with your accountability group. This can be a weekly or monthly meeting where you discuss your progress towards your goals. This will help you stay on track and give you an opportunity to ask for support or guidance when needed.

Use Technology to Your Advantage

Technology can be an excellent tool for building a community for accountability. You can use apps like Habitica, MyFitnessPal, or Strava to track your progress and connect with other users. Additionally, you can use social media platforms like Facebook or Instagram to connect with other people who share similar goals.

Make it Fun

Achieving your goals should be fun and rewarding. Organize fun activities or challenges within your group to keep things interesting. For example, you can organize a fitness challenge or a cooking challenge. Making it fun and exciting will help you stay motivated and engaged.

Be Open to Feedback

Be open to feedback from others in your accountability group. Listen to their suggestions and advice. This will help you identify areas where you can improve and make necessary changes to achieve your goals.

Celebrate Successes

Celebrate your successes, no matter how small they are. Share your achievements with your accountability group and encourage each other. Celebrating your successes will help you stay motivated and committed to your goals.

In short, building a community for accountability can be a game-changer when it comes to achieving your New Year's resolutions. Define your goals, find like-minded people, create a support system, set regular check-ins, use technology to your advantage, make it fun, be open to feedback, and celebrate successes. With a supportive community, achieving your goals becomes possible, and you can go into the new year with confidence and motivation.

Justina Thompson

Justina Thompson

Justina "Farmer J" Thompson is the Farm Education and Volunteer Manager at Urban Creators, Philadelphia, PA. Justina intentionally attended school in Philadelphia so she could “connect her passion and experience to the ongoing environmental justice work in the area.” As a speaker, educational curriculum designer, program leader, and community organizer, Justina possesses extensive knowledge on urban farming inspired to work in the field of environmental justice from a young age.
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