Money Matters Team

5 Ways To Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions

By Money Matters Team 18/01/2021

How to keep your New Year’s resolutions

Making New Year’s resolutions is something we’re all familiar with. But what about keeping your New Year's resolutions?

A recent survey by Sainsbury’s Bank reveals only 15% of people set and achieve New Year’s resolutions.*

The New Year feels like a fresh start, so it’s only natural to want to wipe the slate clean and think about new beginnings. Which is why we make New Year’s resolutions and leads to the phrase ‘New Year, new me’. But instead of a ‘new’ you, how about a ‘better’ you?

We talk to life coach, motivational speaker and author, Kirsty Hulse, about why we need to ease the pressure of New Year’s resolutions. And how with five top tips, we can focus on achieving more sustainable goals.

Firstly, why do New Year's resolutions commonly fail?

Because we’re doing too much too fast. Kirsty says: “In order for us to change ourselves, we have to allow for inconsistency and New Year’s resolutions create a pressure. This pressure, where we must do it and get it right means that most people don’t stick to what they set out to achieve because the stakes become so high.”

People change slowly, gently and incrementally over time. Setting yourself a big ambitious New Year’s resolution list can set yourself up for failure. As mentioned in our blog about achieving your bucket list, failure is a crucial part of success.

1. Keep yourself motivated

As humans, we have two forms of motivation - push and pull motivation. Push motivations are when we’re trying to push away from something. Whereas pull motivation is looking forward, feeling pulled towards achieving something.

For example, if something bad happens such missing a work deadline, we naturally push ourselves away from it and tell ourselves we won’t ever miss a work deadline again. And that’s how people motivate themselves. Kirsty says: “We indulge in December and we feel we need to push away from that in January. But because push motivation is centred around initial reactions, it won’t give us enough momentum to keep us going, meaning the motivation goes. That’s why we need to strike a balance by including pull motivations too.”

A pull motivation is something you’re naturally drawn too. So, if you’re a keen athlete, you might be planning to set yourself a goal of running a marathon. Or if you’re keen to decorate your home, your saving goal for home interior is more likely to succeed.

Kirsty says: “We need both push and pull forces to generate empowerment, excitement and motivation to help us create and maintain our goals. Try to set resolutions or changes that are meaningful to you.”

2. Set your goals

The most common New Year’s resolutions revealed by Sainsbury’s Bank life ambition survey were:

  • To quit smoking
  • To lose weight
  • Save for house deposit
  • Stop biting fingernails

What makes these resolutions achievable is how specific they are. Kirsty tells us: “People often worry about what their life purpose is and it seems a bit difficult thing to get to. Instead, ask yourself what you’re enthusiastic about - it can be that simple.

“If someone says ‘baking’, I’ll ask but what is it specifically about baking that you love? Let’s get into the specifics. Tap into more of that and that’s how we’ll really nourish ourselves.”

If we’re trying to learn a new behaviour, habit or skill, we need dopamine, which is what we release when we have a sense of novelty, excitement or happiness and so it makes us want to keep doing it. If we’re not taking enjoyment out of the process, then we need to ask ourselves why this is even a habit or a goal that we’re trying to create. We need to tap into those moments of ‘this feels really good’.

Kirsty said: “Nailing down the smaller specifics about what we hope to achieve will help us on our way to achieving larger, longer-term goals.”

3. Know that failure is the first step towards success

When trying to keep your New Year’s resolutions the first thing is to allow yourself to fail. It’s human nature to give up, we need to accept that.

Kirsty reminds us: “There are going to be quite a few times that you don’t get something done. There’ll be quite a few days where you don’t have time for something and you’re not always going to stick to things the whole time. We need to build that into any process.”

She asks us to reflect upon what we’ve done, or already achieved in our life. When we think back, it’s likely you’ll remember the successes but try to also think about the little mishaps along the way. It’s positively reacting to those bumps in the road that got us there!

4. Try not to compare yourself to others on social media

It’s undeniable that social media has an influence on us. So, it’s worth thinking about whether your social feed has a positive or negative impact on you?

Kirsty advises, we should curate our channels to reflect what makes you feel good. She said: “Firstly, I’d say, follow things that make you feel good, be it cats, puppies or art. My Instagram is mainly made up of stand-up comics and artists as those are the things that make me feel good.”

If you find your social media feed has a negative impact on you, it may be because it’s natural for us to see something someone else has and feel envious. Kirsty says: “The notion of comparison varies for everyone, but it’s so temping to compare ourselves to other people. This comes from a thing called a fixed mind-set and it’s a natural human instinct.

“Try to start viewing other people’s success as a source of inspiration. It’s about training ourselves to acknowledge there is enough within the world for us all to have what we want. Just because someone else has it, it doesn’t mean you can’t.”

It’s time to press the unfollow button on negativity. Or at least, mute it from your feed.

5. Envision your success

The power of visualisation is picturing your dreams becoming a reality. It’s essentially allowing yourself to daydream. Dip into that imagination to picture and explore things, Kirsty says: “Our subconscious mind doesn’t know the difference between daydreaming and reality.”

Kirsty encourages us to ‘Imagine, you’re already there and have done it i.e., standing at the top of Everest and feeling so excited. Feel it now. And think ‘what are the milestones that got you there?’ She suggests writing down by hand what you want to achieve as it helps you think and evaluate what steps you need to take to make those milestones happen.

She says: “Make it real for yourself and your mind, then it becomes exciting. And yes, things are scary but this is what daydreaming is. Daydreaming is picturing things, exploring things. As humans, we are so good at calculating risks and not as adept at calculating opportunity. If we come from a place of opportunity, rather than a place of risk, those worries, those fears, and those doubts that are so natural and normal when trying to plan new things fade away much more easily.”

For more tips on visualisation, check out our blog on how to achieve your bucket list.

Most popular life ambitions

Now that you’re on the path to achieving your ambitions, take inspiration for setting your goals by reading the most common bucket list items and most popular life ambitions. A survey by Sainsbury’s Bank reveals all – read here to find out more.

Thinking of yours and your family’s futures

Looking after your health and wellbeing is so important – and so is helping to protect your family’s future should the worst happen. Life insurance could help ensure your family is protected financially. Find out more about how life insurance could help you and your family by reading our life insurance guide.

*Sainsbury’s Bank completed a bucket list survey with 200 respondents in November 2020.



This Money Matters post aims to be informative and engaging. Though it may include tips and information, it does not constitute advice and should not be used as a basis for any financial decisions. Sainsbury's Bank accepts no responsibility for the opinions and views of external contributors and the content of external websites included within this post. Some links may take you to another Sainsbury's Bank page. All information in this post was correct at date of publication.