New Year’s resolutions don’t work. Here’s how to actually achieve your goals.

by Nick Harauz, Co-founder and Trainer at Creative One Eleven


Let me tell you something: New Year’s resolutions don’t work. For four years straight, I’ve been setting resolutions. Every single year without fail well, I fail. Usually, around the last week of January, my resolve just seems to wane. So that’s why I’m writing to you now, because chances are you’re probably giving up on your New Year’s resolution around now. 

I’m no stranger to setting goals and reaching them, so I don’t think it’s just me and the statistics back me up on this. A Forbes article last year found that 80% of people drop their resolutions after the first month and only 8% follow through. Clearly, resolutions are not working for the majority of people who make them. 

So as creatives, how can we follow through on our intentions and reach our goals? We reject the idea of a New Year’s resolution, and we make goals on our own terms. Here’s how:


1. Stop waiting for a magical date and do something small towards your goal today. 

The hardest part is getting started, as they say. Doing something small and attainable towards bigger goals is a push in the right direction. Pick something that you can do everyday, no matter what time of the year it is. The most important thing is to be honest with yourself and make it attainable. You need to be able to fit the changes you want into your life. It could be as simple as walking an extra hundred steps each day, or reading an article a day on motion graphics to keep advancing your skills.


2. If you fall off the horse, get back on it again. 

When you decide to set ambitious goals for yourself, remember that you may slip a few times in the process before achieving them. The paths we set out for ourselves are never a straight line. Some people choose to set goals where they need to change a habit that’s been in place for decades. Be patient with yourself during the process, allow forgiveness, and be mindful of how you speak to yourself. It’s your continued effort towards your goal no matter where you are that will have a profound impact.


3. Visualize it.

The Secret isn’t a secret anymore. Visualizing what you want can have a huge impact on seeing your goals come to life. The trick is to be specific. For example, Pinterest is my happy place when it comes to envisioning my goals. I have several collections of collages on there. One in particular is of a series of photographs featuring the northern lights in Finland and Norway. It was my dream to see and shoot them. Two years after I started that board, I finally made the trip and I saw the northern lights over 10 times, capturing photos that were as beautiful as the ones in my board. If it wasn’t for the frequent visual reminder prompting me to make that trip happen, I might not have gone. 

4. Call the accountability police 

So if you’ve opened this article there’s a chance you might be looking for some support in keeping up with your goals. On top of making them, it’s important to have accountability. This can come in many shapes and sizes but here are a few things that might help:

    • Keep track of your process everyday by writing it down. 
    • Confide in a close friend what your goal is, and ask them to check in with you frequently to see where you’re at. 
    • Consider hiring someone to guide you through the process and keep you accountable, such as a life or business coach. Committing to time with an expert is a great way to make sure you stay on track, and will also provide the support you need while pursuing your goals. 


5. Think about how you want to feel. 

This is potentially the most important point. Goals and resolutions are often about things we want to change, things we want to cut out, or habits we want to form. Ultimately, we make these resolutions to feel a certain way, but we don’t often identify what that feeling is. Associating how we want to feel with goals can be extremely motivating. For instance, if your goal is to learn to work more efficiently when video editing, maybe the feeling behind that is to be relaxed and confident in your work. That feeling is valuable and will drive you to achieve your goal. 


If you’re reading this and realized that you forgot about your ambitious New Year’s resolution, you’re not alone. Resolutions don’t always work. Setting goals can work though, provided you have the right mindset and use effective tactics to get there.


by Nick Harauz