Alternative ways to make and stick to new year's resolutions

2020 Goals Text on Note Pad
Struggling to make new year's resolutions? Try an alternative technique, instead (Getty)

Are you struggling to come up with new year’s resolutions for 2020?

It’s long established that making positive intentions for the year ahead can prove somewhat futile – with 80% of us breaking our resolutions by the second week of February.

Some of the most common new year’s resolutions include saving money, quitting smoking and losing weight, according to research by ghostwriting service StoryTerrace.

But with the vast majority of us breaking our traditional resolutions year after year, it seems we’re throwing out the rule book and coming up with new ways to make resolutions instead.

Here are some of the alternative techniques we’re using to set intentions for the year ahead:

Habits to leave behind

Over the weekend, Twitter user Vusi Thembekwayo asked his followers which habits they would be giving up for 2020 – and replies starting flooding in.

His followers offered everything from oversharing and procrastination to investing to much in others as habits they would like to ditch in the new year.

A yearly challenge

Made popular by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, this technique entails making a challenge for yourself to be completed by the end of the year.

READ MORE: Why so many of us struggle to keep our New Year's resolutions

This could range from something small (like finally clearing out your garage) to something loftier – Zuckerberg’s own previous resolutions include learning Mandarin (in 2010, to help him communicate with now-wife Priscilla Chan) and 2017’s vow to visit every US state.

The bucket list approach

Another positive approach is to make a list of things you’d like to do by the end of the year.

With research showing that those who have something to look forward to, like a holiday, are significantly happier in the run-up than those who don’t, it’s easy to see the psychological benefit of this approach, which gives you things to anticipate over the year.

The ‘one word’ resolution

The one word resolution is simple: decide on a single word that will inform your year ahead. While this might seem like a vague way of making a resolution, it’s also a much simpler one – allowing you to focus on one general principle rather than a list of easy-to-break rules for yourself.

Making practical habits

For some, the limitation of new year’s resolutions is their lack of specificity.

So another way around this is to follow practical habits that help you achieve a vaguer aim of work success, exercise, changing your diet – whatever it might be.

READ MORE: NHS doctor warns against new year crash diets

Exercising more might turn into “exercise twice a week”, while succeeding more at work could involve scheduling a regular one-to-one meetings with your manager to discuss your goals moving forward.


If making new year’s resolutions has never been helpful to you, it might be better to simply come up with small, easily-achievable intentions you know you’ll achieve.

Alexandra Keates, a 27-year-old PR manager in London, told Yahoo UK: “I’ve always struggled with the pressure of new year’s resolutions. So this year I basically embraced small things that were achievable but also fun.

“So last year it was wear more lipstick, go somewhere in the UK you’ve never been before, cook with five new ingredients and this year I’m doing read more non-fiction, use wooden toothbrushes and do a couple of ballet-based exercise classes.”

Breaking up your ambitions into smaller, concrete mini-goals is already a tried-and-tested formula when it comes to weight loss, with experts at the University of Alabama saying the secret to making a sustainable lifestyle overhaul is to take it one step at a time.

Taking it month by month

If committing to a year-long resolution seems too daunting, why not try setting monthly goals instead?

In a recent article for Forbes, career change expert Caroline Ceniza-Levine recommended this approach.

“Considering targeting monthly goals that can be tackled throughout the year,” she suggested. “This way, every month offers a fresh start, and you can build on your newfound good habits over time.”

Her ideas for month-long goals included “taking lunch breaks” and “meeting new people”.

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