New Year, New (Sustainable) You: 3 Ways to Set Resolutions That Stick
Kick off the New Year with these tips that will help you make positive, sustainable changes for yourself and the planet in 2024 and beyond.
Setting a sustainable New Year’s resolution can be a great way to make a positive change in your life. But setting the resolution—and actually keeping it—is easier said than done. Nearly 75% of Americans say they’re going to make a New Year’s resolution, yet less than 8% actually stick with it.
Often, we give up on our New Year’s resolutions because we choose huge, vague goals like "be more sustainable" or "eat less meat."
According to Laura Wittig, founder of Brightly, one of the reasons why there's such a high failure rate is because people are "choosing really big—but vague—goals." Think things like "'I want to be more sustainable" or "I want to go vegan." In theory, these resolutions sound great. In reality? They oftentimes wind up in a resolution graveyard.
"Because they're not specific enough, it's kind of hard to hold yourself accountable," Wittig said in a recent episode of Good Together. "And a lot of times, because they're so big, they just seem overwhelming."
Here’s how to avoid the New Year’s resolution slump and keep up with your sustainable goals the entire year.
How to Make New Year's Resolutions That Stick
1. Go Small and Specific
Small changes add up, so Wittig's biggest tip in creating New Year's resolutions that stick is going small but specific.
"Instead of saying 'I'm gonna go 100% vegan,' you could say, 'I'm gonna have one vegan meal a week,'" Wittig says. "I think that's a little bit more realistic for most people."
Sure, you may start with one meal a week—but you can always add additional meals into your lineup as you start building the habit of eating more plants.
How to Get Started: If you're unsure where to start, there are plenty of different vegan recipes and vegetarian recipes to choose from. You can also try some vegan swaps for cooking.
2. Choose Some Swaps
Instead of thinking about your sustainable New Year’s resolutions as big projects, try framing them as small swaps you’ll make each day for a better, brighter planet. Small, measurable goals go a long way in making a significant impact.
Even though keeping a sustainable New Year’s resolution can be challenging, it can have a massive positive impact on the planet. For example, it takes 1,700 gallons of water to produce a single pound of beef, but just 39 gallons of water to make a pound of vegetables. Your meatless Monday resolution has a huge impact on water consumption as well as gas and land usage.
How to Get Started: Brightly's "New Year, New (Sustainable) You" campaign gives you ideas for swaps in every room of your home that help you stick with your resolutions, whether that's reducing kitchen waste or greening your cleaning routine.
3. Keep Yourself Accountable
Whether you secure an accountability buddy or make an announcement on Instagram, making such a bold move gives you an extra push that can help your new habits stick in the long run.
"Studies show when you make an announcement, or you hold yourself accountable publicly, there's a higher likelihood that you're going to see that goal through and actually get it done," Wittig says. "So making your goals small and measurable and holding yourself accountable, both internally and publicly, can really help give you some success."
How to Get Started: Ask someone in your life if they'd like to be your accountability buddy, then share a few goals with each other that you need help sticking to. Check in with each other often about your progress. If you'd rather fly solo, make an announcement on Instagram and Facebook about your resolution—and keep everyone updated on your progress.
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