How to keep the resolutions you make

By Adela Crandell Durkee For Chronicle Media

When setting New Year’s Resolutions, experts advise, keep it SMART: Simple, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely.

The beginning of 2018, you may decide to make a firm decision to do or not do something.

You are resolute. This year will be different. Or will you be like Danielle Bryan from Wonder Lake, who says, “I don’t really set specific goals or resolutions except to vow that 2018 is going to be better than 2017.”

She remembers starting that in 2014.

According to, about 58 percent of people who make New Year’s Resolutions break them before January ends; only 45 percent succeed past the six-month mark.

Like many years in the past, 2017’s top 10 New Year’s Resolutions were:

  1. Lose Weight/Eat Healthy
  2. Life and Self Improvements
  3. Make Better Financial Decisions
  4. Quit Smoking
  5. Do more exciting things
  6. Spend More Time with Family/Close Friends
  7. Work out more often
  8. Learn something new on my own
  9. Do more good deeds
  10. Find the love of my life.

Michele Barry, from McHenry, makes lots of resolutions every year.  Among them, “The number of books I want to read and the weight I want to lose,” she said.  She also sets less specific goals for her physical, financial, spiritual, emotional, and educational aspects of life. 

“I try to cover all the bases,” she said.

It’s a great goal to live healthier, lose weight, read more, get organized, quit smoking, or fall in love. The problem comes with the execution. These are positive lifestyle changes that require smaller steps toward success. Here are some suggestions for making and achieving New Year’s Resolutions:

  1. Be Specific. For example, rather than “live healthier,” a good resolution might be to walk five days a week. Rather than be more organized, resolve to sort mail as soon as it’s brought in the house.
  2. Start small. Some resolutions can be overwhelmingly huge. Lose 30 pounds, quit smoking and exercise every day are all big commitments. Pick one or two attainable goals to focus on. Eating one or two servings from the fruits and vegetable group is a step toward improved health. It just may result in a reasonable weight loss.
  3. Be Accountable. Find someone with similar goals. Join a group, post it on social media, or jot it in a journal and report periodically on your progress.
  4. Make a long-term plan. One Oakwood Hills couple reassess their five-year plan New Year’s Day over breakfast: a) find a job for disabled daughter; b) live in a small house on a large lot; c) visit seven continents; d) work from home; e) become a published author. It took more than five years, but in 2017 the couple needed a new plan. The goals for 2018-23 are more modest: travel Route 66, increase profitability of their home business, write a second novel, and visit Australia.
  5. Make resolutions attainable. Many people fail simply because they try to accomplish too much too fast. Or they end the year feeling over-extended and exhausted by their efforts. Kathryn Potter says about 2018 resolutions, “Mine is to get more sleep.”
  6. If all else fails, Algonquin resident Robert Waddell’s perspective provides some comic relief, “Being perfect relieves me of resorting to New Year’s Resolutions,” he says. “Besides, I never keep those things.”

How to keep the resolutions you make–