How to Make Your New Year’s Resolutions Stick

We make them every year, and every year, it seems we break most of our resolutions before January 2.

Common resolutions include exercising more—particularly after the junk-food-infiltrated holidays—eating healthily, learning a new skill or hobby, losing weight, and spending more time with friends and family. As a college student, you might consider a resolution like going to bed earlier, taking a walk around campus each day, completing your homework ahead of time, or skipping your extra evening snack at your dorm building’s cafe each night.

Whether it’s a New Years Resolution or a goal in general that you hope to make and reach, the flexibility and support you have available as a college student is at its peak. Not only do you have the wiggle room in your schedule to make things happen, but living with roommates and near your friends is excellent accountability.

So as the New Year quickly approaches, what are some steps you can take to make your resolutions stick?

1. Keep the list short

There’s nothing so daunting as staring down at a list of ten resolutions and wondering how on earth you’re going to make them all happen. While we applaud your gusto and desire to strive for excellence, it’s important to be realistic too. If you have too many resolutions to keep track of, your likelihood for failure will skyrocket. It’s a much better plan to stick to just a couple resolutions, so you can make a plan and feel accomplished.

2. Break your resolutions into bite-size pieces

Running a marathon is a great goal to have, but if you expect to wake up on January 1, tie on your running shoes, and log 26.2 miles that morning, you’d better think again. Start small, and make a plan for how you will slowly build up to your goal. Maybe that looks like running just one mile for a whole month before you feel comfortable being back in the world of exercise again. And that’s okay!

The same goes for any other sort of goal you have. If you’re aiming to try a new hobby, break down the parts. Take a week to research the options for classes or hiking trails or whatever else applies to your chosen pursuit. Then take another week to assemble the correct gear or connect with the right people. Whatever it is, break your goal up into several pieces so you’re not overwhelmed with everything you have to do right from the get go.

3. Get some accountability

It’s a lot easier (and more fun) when you have a buddy to help you stick to your resolutions. Whether it’s your roommate or a friend down the hall, try holding each other accountable to each other’s resolutions. Sometimes, just knowing someone is going to ask you how it’s going can be all the motivation you need to head to the gym, skip the extra dessert, or go to bed on time.

What’s even better is if you and your accountability buddy have the same resolution. It’s nice to have some support as your muscles start remembering what it’s like to lift weights or your stomach learns to skip those midnight brownies. Text each other, send pictures and GIFS, forward encouraging Bible verses—do whatever it takes to help each other get through that first transitional period.

4. Share your experience with others

One thing that’s helpful when you make a change is to share the experience with other people. Whether you’re journaling about the change you’re making or starting a blog to document your progress with your newly cultivated skill, it’s really nice to know that other people are rallying behind you and supporting you. Not only that, but you might serve as an inspiration to other people as well.

5. Give yourself some grace

Perfection is unattainable, and many people give up completely after one slip up. Instead of dropping your resolution as soon as you “accidentally” eat that pint of ice cream, brush yourself off and get back on the horse. Everyone has ups and downs in their life, and college can certainly make certain resolutions extra tricky. If you mess up a couple times, remember to give yourself some grace and keep trying. The goal is perseverance and persistence—you can do it!