Happy New Year! As we enter 2016, many of us feel inspired to get started with one or more resolution we’ve struggled with in the past.

I’m here to tell you what will make your New Year’s resolutions stick.

After helping thousands of clients fulfill their treatment goals (and New Year’s resolutions), I’ve learned that the most important ingredient for a successful New Year’s initiative is the following:

Create a system of social accountability so that you’re not alone in meeting a measurable goal.

What Is Social Accountability?

You create social accountability when you enlist your friend, relative or colleague in helping you reach for your goals.

Don’t underestimate the power of social accountability to bolster your resolutions. I’ve seen it work countless times.

You and your “resolution partner” come up with a very specific, written plan for what you want to accomplish.

You both become each other’s coach.

The same goals for both of you are not needed. Your job is to make sure you know exactly how your partner is going to meet his or her goals and vice versa.

Answer the following questions together:

  • How often you will check in with each other about your resolutions. Will it be the same time weekly? Daily? Biweekly?
  • How will you communicate during these checkins? By phone? In person? Via Skype or FaceTime?

I would say that texting as method of checking in with one another does not evoke enough social accountability. Use messaging as a last resort.

Why Does Social Accountability Work?

It works because you feel pressure to satisfy your partner’s expectations. For many people, social accountability also brings out a competitive drive.

The combination of the pressure you put on yourself (independent of your partner’s influence) and social accountability predicts the best outcomes with your New Year’s resolutions.

Should It Be Made into a Competition?

I’m all for New Year’s resolutions being made into social competitions. This usually requires that you have similar resolutions.

The most common resolutions I’ve seen benefit from being transformed into competitions deal with weight loss, but it can work for any objective.

You can have a prize at the end to add motivation to compete and reach your personal goals.

Good luck with your New Years resolutions! I wish you all the best!

Dr. Greg

Resource: Here are some wonderful ideas for resolutions related to improving your health.