How to Actually Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions

Rob Guevarra

January 15, 2021

“New year, new me.”

We’ve heard it so many times from so many different people. The start of a new year gives us hope that maybe we can start afresh and start again. That maybe we can redo our lives and reach new goals that we set for ourselves.

This year is no exception. Perhaps this is the year you aim to get that body figure you wanted. Or maybe it’s the year to start saving up, start that business, to get that award, to be in a relationship, or be more devoted to your faith. Whatever that is, I’m sure it’s a meaningful life goal. And like most people, you have probably set for yourself resolutions, expecting that this is the year you will finally get it right.

According to a leadership article by Marla Tabaka of Incorporated business group, 80% of people’s New Year’s resolutions fail. For example, gyms are usually filled around January to March, and then get back to its normal number around April. 

What happened? Why do most resolutions fail?

According to the same article, it’s because we have been “unreasonable about resolutions.” And I believe that a big part of it is our unreasonable expectations. Somehow, we have set ourselves up for failure when we create expectations about ourselves and our future that are unrealistic and unachievable. And because the current progress of your effort is too far from your expectation, the tendency is to quit. So, how can we deal with this?

While the obvious answer is to be realistic, how does that work and what does it look like in daily life? How do we start our year and set out goals for ourselves without creating unrealistic expectations, but at the same time believing for greater things to happen this year? Here are a few suggestions:

1. Be accountable. 

One way of making sure that our goals are grounded is to have people around you with whom you can bounce off your goals. Mentors are there to advise you about what may or may not be achievable. True friends are there to give you honest and gracious feedback about your capacity in relation to what you can achieve. 

For example, I can believe and set goals to be a singer or artist, and I have mentors who can tell me how it can be done, but I also have friends who can honestly tell me that it might be best for me to aim for something else.

2. Be realistic.

What does the wisdom around you say about what you want to achieve? Is it possible to lose half of your weight in a year? Is it safe? Knowing the boundaries of your goals allows you to create realistic expectations. It would not hurt to set goals that are realistically achievable. In fact, doing so would spare you from unnecessary stress that might hinder you from achieving your goals. 

Being realistic helps you see things objectively, resulting in realistic and carefully thought out actions. It is discouraging to see hope die just because our plans weren’t realistic enough. While it is true that we should be daring and that our goals must be out of our comfort zone, it is also true that we can be daring while still being realistic. 

3. Set baby steps.

Bigger victories are accumulation of smaller victories over time. I remember when I first started working out, I was very eager to lift heavy weights. And I did. My body ached like it never did, and I found myself hating working out because I was not prepared for the toll it would have on my body.

Instead of creating momentum for my would-be workout routine, I exhausted myself too early and ended up quitting. On my next attempt, I got myself coached and I was only given a 20-minute light, full-body workout. Surprisingly, it felt easier than it should and I woke up wanting more. That small victory was what I needed to build momentum for the next workouts.

As you set goals for yourself, think of the small victories in between your bigger goals and celebrate them. Do not be too quick to move on to the next task. Soon, you will find the momentum you need to achieve the bigger and tougher goals you’ve set.

4. Be in faith.

Being in faith means being in a posture of trust. When we put our trust in ourselves, we carry an unnecessary pressure to fulfill our own expectations no matter how unrealistic they may be.

But when we trust in God, not only do we unload unnecessary pressures from our lives, we begin to have a clearer mind for better decision-making.

This is the time where I come to God and inquire with Him about my goals in life. And when He answers, I make sure to ask wisdom from my leaders because it is possible for me to manipulate it according to what I think is best for me. 

And whatever comes out of my inquiry before God, it becomes my fuel for my journey. It’s my reminder to keep going. It’s what I hold on to when things get difficult. And it’s what I celebrate at the end of the year.

I pray that you will be both realistic and faith-filled as you create goals and set expectations this year. Remember that you can be free from unrealistic expectations this year!




The Author

Rob Guevarra

Rob has been a missionary since 2013, and currently serves as Regional Director for ENC Central Luzon. He is married to Grace and is a father to two beautiful children, Zoe and Yosh. He is passionate about games, learning, leadership, and the next generation.