This is the stage in your journey, Stargazer, where you pause, reassess, and either continue forging toward your goals or scrap the plan and start over. The new year presents an opportunity for change. Are you ready?
You may instinctively turn to new year’s resolutions to help you establish good habits or kick bad ones. There’s nothing wrong with this approach. However, studies show that most of us are destined to abandon our resolutions by the time the ground thaws. Resolutions that stick look more like goals—they are measurable and specific. They are sustainable and backed by a plan.
Set new year’s resolutions that look less like vague ideas and more like a map, guiding you through each step toward greatness.
It’s time to predict your own future. Set new year’s resolutions that look less like vague ideas and more like a map, guiding you through each step toward greatness. You’re the driver, Stargazer—we’re here as your co-pilot, offering advice and inspiration along the way. 2021 is your year. We just know it.
Why new year's resolutions fail
Before we walk you through steps to establishing fail-proof resolutions, let’s talk about why they fail. Most common resolutions—“Eat less junk food” or “Get in shape”—lack an instruction manual. These statements are missing details that answer the critical why, when, and how questions. Without systems to implement and track your plan and a quantifiable measure of success, it’s easy to lose motivation. New year’s resolutions typically fail because they're too vague.
New year’s resolutions typically fail because they're too vague.
How you frame your resolution may also have an effect on its chance for success. A recent study shows that those who established “approach oriented” resolutions were more successful in keeping them versus those who had “avoidance oriented” resolutions.
7 ways to make your new year’s resolutions stick
A resolution can be helpful as an overall theme or the foundation upon which you assemble the essential components of your ultimate goal. Follow these seven steps to make actionable new year’s resolutions that stick. Plus, we asked our Twitter community: “What are your business resolutions for 2021?” We’re sharing some of our favorite answers as examples.
1. Make them measurable
Let’s look at a typical resolution like “Read more.” How do you qualify “more” when talking about your reading goals? “Read one book per month” is a resolution that not only defines “more” but also allows you to break up the goal and track it. In another example, instead of “Eat healthier,” try “Eat meatless meals every Monday” as a measurable alternative.
The same applies to resolutions for your business. “Grow my business” is too vague but “Grow my online sales by 200% by the end of the year” gives you a clear goal to strive toward.
🐦 Scrunchie Club founder Alyssa Kaplan’s resolution: “1,000 sales 🥰.”
2. Be specific and clear
“Become self-sufficient” is a great resolution but it’s a big one and isn’t very clear. If self-sufficiency for you means starting or growing a business (we love this for you!), be clear with your language: “Start a business that allows me to quit my job this year” or “Grow my current business and begin paying myself a livable salary this year.” Both capture the spirit of “Become self-sufficient” but define what success actually means.
Now break this goal out into specific individual tasks—say, “Run a crowdfunding campaign,” “Secure three new wholesale partnerships,” or “Launch my website”—that allow you to track your progress and celebrate little wins along the way.
🐦 Mike D’s BBQ founder Michael “Mike D” De Los Santos’ resolution: “2 more product releases, 1 new revenue stream and high 6 figures in sales.”
3. Set a timeline
Resolutions differ from goals in that they are more often related to an ongoing habit versus a set end goal. Perhaps your business resolution is “Be more active on my brand’s social accounts” indefinitely. If social media isn’t your comfort zone, set a timeline for onboarding yourself onto a platform or getting to know the audience before establishing a posting frequency. The following goals are more specific, more measurable, and have a clear timeframe but still help you achieve your original resolution to establish an ongoing habit:
- “Post on my brand’s Instagram account once per week.” (Then set a date to reassess this number and adjust as needed.)
- “Learn to use TikTok and set up a brand account by March 1.”
- “Reduce my social customer service response time to 24 hours by the end of May.”
🐦 West End Kids founder, Sheba Schmidt’s resolution: “Hoping to go live with my 2nd site by the end of February!”
Need help with goal setting?
Consult our list of over 40 resources to motivate you to get started—and stick with it. Find the right tool, book, or podcast to help you set, track, and achieve any goal.
4. Track them
Whether you use a paper calendar or a niche app, pick a tracking method that feels natural to you. Do you need push notifications as daily reminders or does a big whiteboard in a prominent place do the trick? That rush and sense of accomplishment you feel when you check a box is a powerful motivator.
5. Stay motivated
Why are you resolving to “Learn about the beauty industry” or “Find a business mentor”? What’s in it for you? When setting goals that capture the spirit of those resolutions, it’s important to identify the why. This exercise will help you keep your eye on the reward. “Learn more about the beauty industry” might sound more like “Read one beauty business book per month this year to prepare for launching my own makeup line by 2022.”
That rush and sense of accomplishment you feel when you check a box is a powerful motivator.
Motivation can be found outside of the goal itself. “Eat healthier” might not have enough of a tangible reward to keep up with the leafy greens. Crowdsource your motivation by pairing with a friend with similar resolutions. If your resolution is business related, invite others into your process and share your ups and downs. Seek out a supportive community of other entrepreneurs to inspire you to keep striving.
🐦 Riverwood Acoustics’ resolution: “Have fun doing what we love.”
6. Have a Plan B
What if your new year’s resolution was unsustainable or too ambitious? What do you do if, by July, you have fallen months off course or have abandoned your good intentions all together? There’s no rule that says resolutions can’t be adjusted or made fresh outside of January. Give yourself a break. Acknowledge that, say, reading one business book a week is impossible in your schedule. Rather than quitting, establish a monthly goal instead and you’ll still be faithful to your resolution to “Read more.”
Treat yourself as your own client. Take time to check in with yourself weekly, and be honest about your progress.
7. Hold yourself accountable
You only answer to you on this one, friend. Without having to be accountable to a manager or team, the only person you’ll let down in this case is yourself. You deserve better! Treat yourself as your own client. Take time to check in with yourself weekly, and be honest about your progress. Every failure is a learning moment and puts you in the position to make even more bulletproof resolutions next year.
🐦 Freckled & Fancy founder Kelley Creque’s resolution: “Stick to my business budget NO MATTER WHAT.”
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Quiz: Who’s your 2021 goal-getting muse?
Like many of you, we spent too much of 2020 getting cozy with Netflix. It’s no surprise then that we looked to some of our favorite TV series and characters from the past year to get inspiration for the next one. Which of them best represents your approach to setting resolutions and sticking to goals? And how can you use their lessons to write your own script for 2021?
New year’s resolution ideas and advice for every Founder Sign
Your personality type may dictate how best to approach resolutions. Jump to your sign to get new year’s resolution ideas—and advice for sticking with them, picked just for your type. (Don’t know your sign? Start here.)
👟 Skip to your sign:
Feature sign: The Outsider
You’re not friends with change, Outsider. New Year’s Eve is little more than a pop of a cork for you, and you’re back to business as usual the next day. We’re not here to drag you into big changes. But look at the new year as a chance to set small goals that you achieve with measured, iterative changes.
New year’s resolution ideas for Outsiders
Since you’re motivated by financial security, and your steady work plays a big part in that, perhaps your resolution might be related to saving more—just in case. If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that we can’t always rely on the status quo. Things happen and you can always be more prepared.
How to keep new year’s resolutions as an Outsider
You’re good at systems, Outsider, because you like things the way you like them: predictable. If you set your mind to something, you’re known to be reliable in following through. But you also tend to be quite stuck in your ways. A resolution inherently introduces a new way of thinking or behaving, so start slow. You’ll have more success if you wade into change over the course of the year.
Of those who actually follow through with resolutions, we’re sure that most have Mountaineer qualities. If you want something, you’ll stop at nothing to get it. We admire this about you. But take advantage of this checkpoint—are the goals you were chasing in 2020 still the right ones?
New year’s resolution ideas for Mountaineers
This is your chance to aim for something really “out there,” Mountaineer. You, after all, have the chops to actually make it happen. After a year like 2020 that may have delayed or altered your plans, this fresh start is just what you need. Without something to strive for, you wither. Go big. For you that might mean quitting your job cold turkey and making a real go at that passion project.
How to keep new year’s resolutions as a Mountaineer
We’re not especially worried about your ability to make resolutions stick. There’s an upside to that stubborn streak. What we will say, though, is that if you feel yourself losing steam or straying off course, it might mean that the resolution or goal itself is the wrong one. Keep in touch with yourself and take occasional breathers—are you still excited about your resolution?
Fresh starts motivate you, Trailblazer. You love the opportunity to splash around in new projects and flex your creative muscle. You’re the most likely of all the signs to have emerged from 2020 even more energized—problem solving is, after all, your biggest strength. How will you apply that to your latest goals?
New year’s resolution ideas for Trailblazers
You have no shortage of ideas, Trailblazer. Your challenge is to pick the best one and actually spend the time formulating it into a resolution and a measurable, specific goal that supports it. Focus on one big idea at a time—say, finishing a creative project that became waylaid in 2020. Personal resolutions may be related to learning a new skill, perfecting a craft, or finding a creative community to fan your flames.
How to keep new year’s resolutions as a Trailblazer
You’re prone to tangents, Trailblazer. It’s the pitfall of a creative mind overflowing with ideas. It’s OK to indulge in a few of these, but you’ll never find your way back to your original trail if you stray for too long. If your one big goal is important to you, drop a few breadcrumbs to mark your way back in case you get distracted by other ideas.
Resolutions aren’t necessarily your thing, Firestarter. You have this innate drive toward your goals and you don’t really rely on a plan to get there. You’re more likely to keep things flexible in case an opportunity drops in your lap. That doesn’t mean you can’t set your sights on a specific goal while leaving room to work other angles.
New year’s resolution ideas for Trailblazers
Generally, you’re striving for success. You love the glory of big wins. There’s no question that you’ll have a few of those this year, whether you make them official goals or not. Your resolutions for 2021, however, may be related to things that you don’t naturally pursue or nurture: stress release, hobbies, or personal growth.
How to keep new year’s resolutions as a Firestarter
You have a track record for having your hand in many projects at once. You’ll prioritize the ones that are the most lucrative, but you’re also not afraid to make big bets. If your resolution is related to taking more personal time or slowing down, you’re not naturally inclined to stick with it if exciting opportunities present themselves. You’ll therefore have to develop systems for keeping yourself on track and accountable. Try an app that sends reminders, or block off one hour of time in your calendar every day.
We didn’t need to tell you anything about setting measurable goals and having a plan, Cartographer—that’s already what you do best. You’ve likely already made resolutions and are tracking your way through them as you read this. But are they too careful? Did you really challenge yourself this year? 2021 is your chrysalis. You’ve learned a lot about change in the past year—let’s put it to work.
New year’s resolution ideas for Cartographers
Think outside your typical resolutions and goals and set your sights on something a little outside your comfort zone. If you’re not challenging yourself, is it really a resolution? What’s something that scares you? Now work backward to convert it into attainable mini-goals. Maybe you won’t achieve it this year, but you’ll learn a lot by stepping out of your bubble. Stuck for ideas? Try resolving to “Be more spontaneous” and make a goal to try one new thing per month.
How to keep new year’s resolutions as a Cartographer
This part is easy, Cartographer. You have a strong work ethic and follow-through, and we have no doubt that you’ll inch your way carefully toward achieving what you set out to do. Where you may stumble is when the universe inevitably crashes your plan. An unexpected challenge is your nightmare party guest. Make room in your planning for what ifs.
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Illustrations by by Alice Mollon