New Year’s resolutions will take on an entirely new meaning this year as people set out to start afresh after the challenges of 2020.

Yet, if the jokes we share with family and friends come two weeks from now are any indication, most of us know that New Year’s resolutions don’t last.

In fact, it’s been over 30 years since Norcross and Vangarelli, in a landmark study, found that only 19% of people keep them long term.[1]

Newer evidence echoes similar sentiments.[2] Still, despite all of this nearly half the U.S. population sets out each year looking to conqueror the world – list of resolutions firmly in hand.[3]

2021 is no exception, with nearly three-quarters of the U.S. population expecting to set a resolution.[4] That rate is highest among younger age brackets by the way.[5]

As for the kinds of resolutions people aim for, most pertain to health, self-improvement and/or finances.[6]

Nevertheless, are New Year’s resolutions really the right approach as we enter the new year? Are they really worth all of the mental and emotional strain that come part and parcel with the failures they so commonly provoke?

This year, we’re recommending taking a step back from New Year’s resolutions. However, that doesn’t mean you have to disregard setting goals for yourself or taking a personal inventory this year.

As such, here are three simple things straight from IMPOWER staff that can help you progress toward your goals in 2021 and “inspire your life’s potential” (minus the resolution stress of course!)…

1. Leverage Compound Gains

“For long term goals, I’ve always found that chipping away little by little over time makes much more sense than trying to hit a home run in the first inning. Incremental gains over the long haul are the way to go. You feel less pressure, give yourself permission to mess up every now and then, and you enjoy the journey more. Set a goal for yourself, work backwards and then each day just focus on simple and small decisions to get you there. When you start small, and slowly chip away, you’ll be amazed at the power of compound gains!” –Jeremy Waller, Marketing and Community Outreach Manager: Behavioral Health

2. Try a “Gratitude Jar”

You’ll need a jar, small post it size notes, and a pen. Pick a day each week (I usually choose Sunday) and write a short (one sentence) thing you are grateful for from the past week (it could be: my health, iPhone got fixed didn’t need a new one, lost 5 pounds, took a short drive and looked at holiday lights, called someone I haven’t talked to in a long time and reconnected etc.) At the end of the year you pull out all the notes and read them. They help identify: supportive people, things that bring you joy, help you make a plan, etc… I’ve been doing it for years and it works! –Judy Charuhas, LMHC, NCC, CCTP, Director of Substance Abuse and Mental Health Outpatient Services

3. Kindness – Pay it Forward

2020 has been a challenging year for all, and for many reasons. Use 2021 to “reset” and focus on kindness. There are 365 days in a year. That is 365 opportunities to do an act of kindness for a stranger. It’s so easy. Compliment their outfit. Tell them “good job” when you see them out for a run. Tell them they have beautiful eyes. Hold open a door. Pay for the order behind you in a drive thru. You never know what kind of day someone is having…you might just be the person that makes a difference and shows a fellow human that they are appreciated and that they make a difference. –Anna Kesic, President/CEO


[1] Journal of Substance Abuse, The resolution solution: Longitudinal examination of New Year’s change attempts.

[2] Journal of Clinical Psychology, Auld lang syne: success predictors, change processes, and self-reported outcomes of New Year’s resolvers and nonresolvers.

[3] Statista, How many of the New Year’s resolutions that you made for 2018 did you stick to?

[4] Finder, New Year’s resolution statistics.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.