How to Set New Year’s Resolutions with Staying Power

These simple tips can improve your chance of success.


Tis the season for change. It’s all we hear, from commercials to everyday conversations with friends and family. What goals are you setting? How are you going to meet them? But for many of us who have dropped resolutions before, the question we ask is, “Will this be the year I make a resolution and stick to it?”

Setting goals and resolutions can dramatically improve your life, but you must remember to manage your expectations, too.

We sat down with Sagewell Health & Fitness Specialist Benjamin McSwain to learn how to make goals and resolutions that are life-changing and achievable.   

Ben McSwain

Ben McSwain

“I encourage our members to establish a big goal, then break it down into smaller milestones before they get started,” said McSwain. “When you see small successes, the larger goal becomes more attainable and more exciting to pursue.” 

Start Small to See Success Early

When setting your new year’s resolution or a new goal, consider the steps it will take to reach it. For example, long-distance runners will not go from zero miles to a marathon overnight. Instead, they build a training plan that builds up to their ideal distance and pace over time to prevent injuries and burnout. 

The same concept applies to any goal or resolution. 

First, name the broader goal you would like to accomplish. Then, break it down into smaller steps you can realistically see yourself doing every day or every week. These smaller steps make it easier to start, which builds consistency and confidence in your resolution journey. 

Track Your Progress

Once you get started, McSwain recommends keeping a log of what you’re doing to make progress towards your goal. For example, if your goal is to drink more water instead of sugary beverages, you might start by trying to replace one soft drink with a bottle of water a day. Tracking your water consumption through an app on your phone would be an easy way to see patterns as you make progress.   

Woman on cable row machineYou might find it helpful to write down stressors or triggers that make you reach for your favorite soft drink, too, so you can develop a new response that better aligns with your new goal.

Avoid Resolution Rejection

According to McSwain, one of the most common reasons people abandon their resolutions or give up on their goals is a need for more specificity. 

When setting a goal, you need to acknowledge and name why you want to accomplish it to make it meaningful. 

“It’s easy to say you want to lose weight,” said McSwain. “But if you recognize you want to lose weight so you can play with your grandchildren, you will be more motivated to accomplish your goal.” 

If you’re thinking about setting a wellness goal as a New Year’s resolution, consider joining a gym or fitness center. Not only will you have a warm place to work out in the cold months ahead, but most offer terrific services to confidently get you started. 

Sagewell Health & Fitness for example, encourages new members to meet with a staff member to establish a baseline evaluation, set goals, and create a specialized training plan to achieve them. Your gym or fitness center should also take the time to show you the equipment so that you use it properly and understand how to adjust it for your fitness level. 

Wherever you go, take time to check the facility out. You want a place that is friendly and that you can see yourself going to 3 or 4 times a week.

So remember, set small, specific goals, keep track of them and review them once in a while. You may just turn your resolution into a healthy habit.