My mother sucks at keeping New Years resolutions. 

For as many years in a row as I can remember, her resolution has been to be “half the woman” she is at the start of the year and lose weight accordingly (not that she needs to). But that proclamation is as far as her planning goes – she doesn’t quantify how she will achieve that goal, set targets, or make herself accountable to the goal in any fashion. As a result, she isn’t able to keep her resolution and finds herself renewing it with each passing year.


She’s not the only one. Only 8% of us are successful in keeping our New Years resolutions.


There can be many reasons for a lapse in effort to achieve our goals; complacency and circumstance being chief among them. But, for me, the catalyst for past failed resolutions is an inability to articulate how best to achieve those ends. By not ensuring I knew how exactly I would achieve a resolution, and monitor progress toward that goal, I have, in years gone by, set myself up to fall short.


Letting our resolutions lapse is one thing. But I think it can have the added effect of impacting upon our wellbeing. We set ourselves personal targets as a way to improve ourselves and the lives we live; failure to succeed in any quest for personal growth or improvement can, at times, make us feel inadequate or even unhappy. For the 92% of us who fail to keep our resolutions, this amounts to a lot of collectively impacted wellbeing.


It is important for all of us to ensure better that we can keep our resolutions, and thereby improve our lives in the way we want to and, by extension, enhance our wellbeing.


How? We make ourselves accountable in the same way we would in the workplace.


Most jobs will prescribe KPIs and measurable, recurring targets and to-do lists for successful completion of a role. Such an approach can be adapted to our personal lives as well.


Trying to lose weight? Schedule regular gym visits or runs into your calendar each week, set targets for desired weights each fortnight or month, and log your progress on all front. Want to read more books? Write a list of desired reads, set deadlines by which to complete reading them, join a book club, schedule 30-60 minutes every day to sit down with your book, and make that time non-negotiable.


With any resolution you set, find an accountability partner (like a workplace supervisor) who can monitor and evaluate your progress and ensure you stay on track.


You will also find – as I have – that adherence to actual targets provides greater motivation and purpose to your daily or weekly routine. It’s more inspiring, and certainly less scary, to set yourself an objective of losing one kilogram each month than aiming to lose ten by Christmas and hoping for the best.


Being one of the 8% isn’t as hard as it sounds. Setting yourself measurable markers of performance and accountability will make an immense difference not only to the success of your resolutions but also your level of personal wellbeing. It has for me, and – one day – it will for my mum.


Jerome Doraisamy