Cover Story

New Year Resolutions: Your guide to implementing them

Silhouettes of two people happy for new year 2018

On 1st January 2018, at least half of us will wake up late with a hangover of the previous night’s celebrations. Perhaps some of us will post photographs of the party on the various social media platforms, and profess publicly our resolutions for the New Year to our friends and family.

Each year we kick-off our New Year’s resolutions with much ardour, but somewhere within a couple of weeks or months, we lose sight of our goals, and resume our old ways.

So where are we going wrong? While we hope to achieve our goals and devise plans that could help us achieve our goals, we never explain “HOW” we could achieve those goals?

Achieving your goals is not only about having the will-power. It is also about developing the right skills, executing the right strategies, and having the patience that inevitably leads to success.

Like the wise Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu said, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Let’s learn to take small steps in the right direction.

Simple techniques that throw some light on “HOW” we could achieve our New Year goals.

Dart full of resolutions pinned to center of bullseye
1. Make a list

Begin with making a simple list of not more than 3 resolutions that you want to achieve — one of them being the “Primary Resolution” to achieve and the others being the “Secondary” ones. Making such a distinction doesn’t mean that your other goals are less important, but it only makes you focus on one thing at a time, and give it your best.

Other aspects to take note of are:

  • Do not make too many resolutions. Make a list of top 3 resolutions.
  • Taking genuine stock of whether your goals are realistic and achievable, within a realistic timeframe.
  • Write your goals in your diary and on a calendar for you to read each day.
  • Define a time period within which you would achieve each of your resolutions.
  • Regularly mark your progress.

2. Use a calendar

Using a calendar is a simple way to help you track all the progress you made towards achieving your goals.

You can use the calendar to benefit you in the following ways:

  • After you have marked a timeframe within which you have decided to achieve your resolutions, put that timeframe on the calendar.
  • Each day if you have kept the habit/behaviour change that you had promised yourself in the beginning of the year towards achieving your goal, put a ‘tick’ on the calendar, e.g., you have promised yourself to study chemistry for an hour everyday because you want to get better at it. If you have kept your promise to study for an hour in the day, then you put a ‘tick’ on the calendar for the day that you have. Seeing the many ticks or crosses on the calendar serves as a visual reminder that will motivate you towards achieving your resolutions.

3. Forming habits

‘Old habits and routines die hard’, say old myths. But research says that it takes about 21 days to develop a simple new habit. And the period could vary for difficult habits/behaviours to form or change. E.g., If you wish to cut down on your TV watching habits, it could take you relatively 21 days or slightly more to change your habit. If you have been a compulsive TV watcher, it could take you slightly longer.

The key to achieving New Year resolutions is when you try to make these resolutions your habit. Some simple ways you could achieve this:

  • If you have decided to be more fit this year, choose a time of the day that you could dedicate solely towards exercising. If you decide to go for walks at 5 pm every day, set an alarm an hour before 5 pm to notify you and get you to prepare yourself to gear up for your evening walks.
  • If you choose to eat healthy each day, write down the list of food items that you ate each day. This will help you keep track of your food palate, and help you form healthy eating habits.
  • Once the habits are formed, achieving a resolution becomes easier.

Read the full article by subscribing to the print magazine or the digital edition.

More articles

Prof. Sherene Aftab is a passionate counsellor and enthusiastic lecturer. Her expertise lies in the areas of personality development, career and relationship counselling and stress management. You can reach her at

Prof. Sherene Aftab

Prof. Sherene Aftab is a passionate counsellor and enthusiastic lecturer. Her expertise lies in the areas of personality development, career and relationship counselling and stress management. You can reach her at