Tips for Keeping Resolutions

By Amy Dickinson | January 26th, 2024

Easier to make than maintain

A man on a walk in nature, wearing headphones. By Yuri Arcurs. Article: Tips for Keeping Resolutions

We resolve to make life improvements throughout the year: at a doctor’s advice, to improve relationships, to improve our performance and energy. But keeping resolutions is harder than making them. Advice columnist Amy Dickinson offers tips for sticking with your improvement plans.

Dear Amy:

Here we are, just past the beginning of the new year, and my resolutions are already flagging. I usually make a few promises to myself, write them down, and then feel like a loser as I don’t follow through.

I’d like suggestions about how to keep my resolutions. Maybe you and your readers can help?

– Unresolved

Dear Unresolved:

I’d describe my own process as “ongoing,” which means that I am engaging in a never-ending hunt for self-improvement. I’ll pass along a few tricks that have worked for me.

Take baby steps. That resolution to lose 10 pounds is too vague and open-ended. “I’m going to eat vegan three times a week” or “No alcohol during the workweek” are achievable goals. If you are working on decluttering your life, start with one bureau or surface and take pictures of your progress.

Find and use technology that motivates you. I’ve been using a “Couch to 5K” app for the last several months that prompts very gradual improvement. Podcasts and audiobooks are great fitness companions (thank you, Barbra Streisand, for writing a great book that is also 970 pages long).

Pay yourself first: Work toward your goal in the morning, if possible. The sense of accomplishment will set you up for a better day.

Make the path smooth. Lay out your sneakers and workout gear the night before, so you see them in the morning. If you choose a gym, make sure it is easy to get to and that parking is available.

Stack your habits. “Habit stacking” is a way to bind habits you already have with habits you’d like to acquire. For instance, for every cup of coffee you drink, also drink a cup of water.

Go easy on yourself! If you fall off your goal for a few days, don’t give up and walk away (2025 is NOT just around the corner!). Instead, forgive yourself, adjust your goal if necessary, and lace up those sneakers.

I’d love to run further advice from readers on keeping resolutions.

Want to get even more life tips from Amy? Read more of her advice columns here!

In the tradition of the great personal advice columnists, Chicago Tribune’s Amy Dickinson is a plainspoken straight shooter who relates to readers of all ages. She answers personal questions by addressing issues from both her head and her heart – ranging from keeping resolutions to dark family secrets and DNA surprises. A solid reporter, Dickinson researches her topics to provide readers with informed opinions and answers. You can email Amy Dickinson at or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068.

©2024 by Amy Dickinson

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