New Year, New You: A Different Approach to Resolutions

By Mavia Hanson, Army Resilience DirectorateFebruary 28, 2023

A Tuskegee University Army ROTC cadet slides down the inverted rope descent during an FTX at Fort Benning, GA, on September 19, 2020.
A Tuskegee University Army ROTC cadet slides down the inverted rope descent during an FTX at Fort Benning, GA, on September 19, 2020. (Photo Credit: 1st Lt. Stephanie Sweeney) VIEW ORIGINAL

“I don’t know where I’m going from here, but I promise it won’t be boring.” — David Bowie

Every year millions of Americans enter the new year with resolutions in tow. So much so that in a 2020 study conducted by PLoS One, 44 percent of respondents were thought to have made resolutions for three consecutive years. While many of us cannot remember when we started making resolutions (if we still make them), we usually know personally or secondhand that they are rarely carried through. In fact, some sources proclaim Jan. 17 “Ditch New Year’s Resolution Day.” That’s roughly two weeks, the average time in which people pursue their resolutions.

Although our intentions are always best when we set our resolutions, attempting to establish new habits and practices on the first day of the year isn’t ideal. This new year, I encourage you to go against the grain of tradition and set resolutions in February, instead of January.

Kyle Meyer, Master Resilience Trainer- Performance Expert at the R2 Performance Center at Fort Leonard Wood, in Missouri, says, “No New Year’s resolution for me. A particular day doesn’t define where my goals start. For those who do, it doesn’t have to be January 1 for you to start in the right direction. The key is to have a plan and a specific time in mind, period. Once you have that, your start point can be in February, March or even September. The plan is what keeps you consistent, so you don’t give up on the goal.”

Instead, consider using January and February as planning and strategy months. Give yourself an opportunity to catch your breath and think through what you want to accomplish and how you want to get there. Experts say it takes about 66 days, on average, to learn a new habit, depending on the frequency of practice. The more consistently something is done, the more it becomes a normal habit for the individual. “Focus on your values,” Meyer says. “Looking at your values will help direct your behavior toward accomplishing your goals.”

Here are some tips to make your planning flow and your resolutions go.

Plan S.M.A.R.T. goals (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, timely) for an initial, realistic time frame in which to establish the habit; then keep going.

Find an accountability partner/battle buddy. “This is probably the most important part,” Meyer says. “Just knowing someone might hold you accountable is motivation. Just make sure to pick someone who will help, which sometimes isn’t a spouse, but a coworker or friend.”

Write it down and say it aloud. Experts say that the odds of accomplishing a goal increase significantly when it is written down and read aloud because the individual is able to fully visualize the goal.

Focus on your values. When you really understand what’s important and why you’re trying to accomplish a goal, it’s hard to talk yourself out of the work that it takes to accomplish it.

If you need more techniques and resources to map a path to success, look to the Resilience in Focus videos for tips. “These videos cover so many topics, and they’re quick five-minute videos that are easy to watch,” Meyer says. “Also, most base R2 Performance Centers have Facebook pages where they publish their own content that’s more specific to the units on base.”