• Roz Levbarg, PhD

Worried Your New Year Resolutions Aren’t Going To Make It To February? Here’s The Fix

You promised yourself you’d make a few changes this year, but, already,

things are starting to slip. You’re not alone. Less than 10% of us are successful

with New Year resolutions. So…why don’t they work, and what can we do about it?

  1. Write your resolutions down. (by the way, choose only 1 or 2 resolutions for the year)

  2. Make your resolutions specific.

  3. Make sure they’re aligned with your values.

  4. Have a plan in place for when you’re tempted to give up.

Now, I could carry on about all of these steps, but for the sake of this article, I’d like to focus on the last two.

Aligning Goals With Values

So, what’s this about values? Of course, you’re an adult and you know what’s important to

you…family health, charity…yadda, yadda! I wonder, though, if you looked at a list of 75 values, and chose your top 10, whether you’d discover many of your values have changed over the years. Our education, the media, and life experiences change our perspective on things over time. (On the last page of this article is a values clarification activity, where you can discover what’s important to you right now). And, if any of your resolutions aren’t aligned with your current values, they’re not going to stick.

Here's what a clash of values might look like. Christie, for instance, prided herself in her decision to be a stay-at-home mom who could continue to devote time to her volunteer charity work. When she reached her 40’s, she experienced a clash of values. She realized that she’d have to return to work in order to augment her husband’s salary and help to pay down their credit card balance. She’d have to reprioritize her values. Her kids had reached middle school, and were more independent, and so she felt comfortable setting employment as a priority. In a few years, her priorities may change, and that’s O.K. When it comes to goals, knowing one’s values and making conscious choices are key.

How do you know if you’re disconnected with your current values? If you have a goal that stays on your list year after year, that may be the first sign. That’s what happened to Jean with her weight loss goal. She wanted to be more attractive, but always seemed to self-sabotage. When she dug a little deeper into her motivation, she realized that looking beautiful wasn’t high up on the value chain. Her mental and physical health were far more important to her. Weight to her, wasn’t just about looks. When she decided to rank health very high on her list of values, and align it with all of her health goals, it became easier to stick to her plan and achieve her goal. Her goal now, was not “lose weight”. It was “feel and look healthy”. She wrote it down, by hand, and right below that were the specifics along with a goal date for each item.

Planning For Temptations, Slip-Ups, And The Unexpected

What happens if Christie gets tempted to buy something at the mall, and Jean gets hungry while out shopping? They’ve both set resolutions to either extinguish or establish a habit because their old behavior would get in the way of what really matters.

If they each had a plan, what might it look and sound like?

Christie: She’ll have a plan for mall outings, like when she’s eyeing that gorgeous handbag in the window of her favorite store. She’s resolved to return to work and save money. So she’ll have a go-to thought when temptation strikes, like, “There’ll be another gorgeous bag in this window in 6 months, and I can decide then what I want to do.” That way, she’s not denying herself, she’s acknowledging that her circumstances may change in the months to come.

Jean: She, too, will have a plan for when she’s tempted to buy a muffin while she’s out shopping and gets hungry. Her self-talk will be validating, and her purse will be stocked with baggies of nuts and raisins, and her shopping cart will have all the ingredients for her favorite smoothie for when she gets home.

Now you’re ready to set your resolutions for the next 12 months, your 90-day goals, or however you like to break things down.


There are 56 here. Feel free to add your own. For instance, I value “interconnectedness” and added that to my list. Choose your top 10 and prioritize.

Accomplishment Joy

Absence of pain Leadership

Abundance Loyalty

Achievement Nature

Adventure Openness

Altruism Orderliness

Autonomy Personal Growth

Avoidance of Conflict Partnership

Beauty Personal Appearance

Clarity Power

Commitment Privacy

Communication Professionalism

Connecting to Others Respect

Creativity Romance

Emotional Health Safety

Environment Security

Excellence Self-Care

Family Self-Expression

Flexibility Self-Mastery

Freedom Self-Protection

Friendship Self-Realization

Fulfillment Sensuality

Fun Service

Holistic Living Spirituality

Honesty Trust

Humor Truth

Integrity Vitality

Intimacy Other:_____________

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