“Making resolutions is a cleansing ritual of self-assessment and repentance that demands personal honesty and, ultimately, reinforces humility. Breaking them is part of the cycle.”

— Eric Zorn

Raise your hand if you’ve ever set a New Year’s Resolution. 🙋🏼‍♀️Now keep your hand up if you’ve ever successfully managed to stick to a resolution. 👀 If you had to put your hand down, you’re in good company. While optimists across the world engage in the ritual of establishing New Year’s Resolutions, most research suggests that only 8% of the people who set resolutions keep them. Year in and year out, the most popular resolutions tend to look similar. From losing weight to reading more or drinking less, Americans tend to focus their lofty goals on self-improvement, heading into a new year with the hope that it will be better than the last, and feeling invigorated by the promise of a fresh start.

Research from statista uncovered the top ten resolutions for 2019. No doubt, the 2020 list will look pretty similar. Are any of these on your list? Keep reading for eight tips you can use to follow-through. Are you interested in tailoring your goals to your small business? This blog post will also share examples of New Year’s Resolutions that will benefit your business.

8 Tips for Setting Resolutions Goals That Stick

Tip #1: Call it a Goal Instead

Word nerds, rejoice! It turns out scientific evidence proves the words we use are a predictor for success. More specifically, positive language is more likely to result in positive change than punitive or intimidating language. With that in mind, let’s consider the definition of a resolution.



noun: resolution; plural noun: resolutions

a firm decision to do or not to do something.

How motivating does that sound? Before you answer, let’s define the word goal.




the object of a person's ambition or effort; an aim or desired result.

Maybe it’s just me, but the term goal sounds a whole lot friendlier, more inspiring, and motivating. The term resolution seems so absolute. Either you do something, or you don’t. There’s no room for celebrating small successes along the way, which may be why more than 90% of people who set resolutions give up on them just a few weeks into the new year. Psychological research conducted in 2006 by Locke & Latham seems to back up this theory. Their study suggests that it's more effective to aim for positive outcomes rather than focusing your psychological, emotional, and physical energy on avoiding negative ones.

I tried this last year. I decided not to set any resolutions. Instead, I set a few goals. The result? I’ve been pretty successful in achieving all the goals I set. Is it only because I changed the moniker? Maybe, maybe not. It certainly didn’t hurt, but it’s probably more likely that other factors contributed to the success, including tying goals to a bigger purpose. That brings us to the second tip.

Tip #2: Connect Goals to Greater Purpose

“If you want to be happy, set a goal that commands your thoughts, liberates your energy, and inspires your hopes.” —Andrew Carnegie

One of the reasons why so many people fail to achieve the goals they set for a new year is because they have no emotional investment in attaining the goal. Self-help gurus have spent years delivering TED Talks, writing books, and posting blogs about “finding your why.” It turns out their advice is pretty practical when applied towards the mechanics of goal-setting and achievement. As you’re setting a goal for 2020, pause and think about why that goal matters to you. Dig deep.

Here’s an example. Do you have a goal to lose fifteen pounds next year? Why? If you responded with some generic version of “because I want to get healthier,” then you may want to dig a little deeper. Why is it important for you to get healthier? Do you want to stop taking blood pressure medication so you can avoid the side effects, or put that money into a vacation savings fund instead? Do you have a big vacation planned for next summer that you’re hoping to get in better shape for, so you can enjoy hiking through the all the sights? Maybe you have a new baby on the way, and you want to make sure you’re in your best health so you can be there to take the best care of him and set a better example.

Tying your goal to a bigger “why” and verbalizing and visualizing that “why” can help keep you motivated and committed to the cause. If you can’t find a “why” to tie to the goal, then it may not be worth setting. Once you’ve established your goals and tied them each to a bigger “why,” take the time to write them down. Tip number three will explain.

Tip #3: Write Them Down

I love to write, so I love this tip. I’m that person who keeps track of their day via Google calendar but also has a back-up handwritten to-do list. If you’re not much of a fan of writing or list-making, this scientific research might compel you to sharpen your pencils or pick up a pen.

This Forbes article sums it up quite well. "Vividly describing your goals in written form is strongly associated with goal success, and people who very vividly describe or picture their goals are anywhere from 1.2 to 1.4 times more likely to successfully accomplish their goals than people who don’t."

Stop what you’re doing and take a few moments to jot down those goals.

Done? Then let’s move along to the fourth tip, which may be a fan favorite for the tech-savvy readers. When it comes to achieving your goals, yes, there’s an app for that. Millions, actually.

Tip #4: Enlist the Help of an App

Just because you’ve gone old school and written your goals down on a piece of paper, or penned them in a journal or inspiration board, doesn’t mean there’s no place for technology in the goal-setting process. There are so many useful (and free or inexpensive) mobile applications that can help you track progress towards your goals. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • Evernote: this app is a note-takers dream come true. If you love the feeling of satisfaction that comes from checking items off your lists, go ahead and download this app. You’ll probably find you use it for a whole lot more than just tracking your goals, but that’s an excellent first use-case. Oh, and it’s completely free and syncs across multiple devices.
  • Fitbit: this one isn’t free, but it’s worth the investment if you have health-related goals on your list. From step tracking to heart rate monitoring, daily exercise goals, sleep insights, and the ability to keep track of your daily water and food intake, this app does so much!
  • Headspace: if meditation is a goal, then this is the app for you. It’s free, it’s easy to use, and it’s the perfect tool for introducing a mindfulness or meditation practice into your daily routine.
  • Strides: no matter your goal, this app is pretty much the end-all-be-all. If you’re a big fan of charts and dashboards, or you find the visuals motivating, head to the app store now and download this one. The dashboards are totally customizable, and they give you the ability to track progress towards any goals.

Still feeling determined that 2020 will be the year you stick to those resolutions goals? Keep reading. This fifth tip will help keep you track without feeling overwhelmed.

Tip #5: Focus on One Goal at Time

While it’s noble to come up with a list of 20 ways you’d like to improve, it’s probably not realistic to try to accomplish too much. There are only 24 hours in the day, seven days in a week, and 52 weeks in a year, so be honest about what you have time to achieve. Furthermore, don’t try to focus on making too many significant changes all at once. When it comes to achieving goals, less is more. Concentrate your efforts on one thing at a time for a higher chance of success.

Motivational speaker Tony Robbins once said the following about the power of focus in achieving goals:

“People overestimate what they can achieve in one year and underestimate what they can achieve in a decade.”

The big takeaway here? Rather than trying to conquer the world and crush multiple goals per month, focus diligently on a few areas in which you can drive meaningful, positive change. Over time, that focus will pay off in bigger ways than you may notice in the present moment.

What’s a simple way to make sure you maintain your focus? Breaking down your larger goals into smaller ones is a powerful way to inspire progress, which brings us to tip number six.

Tip #6: Break Goals Down into Smaller Steps

Have you ever sat staring at a blank computer screen, paralyzed by a lack of inspiration or a total sense of overwhelm? The sheer complexity of tackling a large project or goal can often lead to procrastination. But by breaking bigger goals into several smaller steps or milestones, you not only allow your brain the opportunity to focus better, you also give yourself the chance to experience small wins along the way. And those small wins can inspire you to keep going.

If you’ve followed the other tips in this post, then this step becomes much more manageable. Once you’ve written down your big goals for the year, take a few moments to outline all the small steps you’ll need to take to reach those goals. A building block approach is often the most effective. Take, for example, the popular Couch 2 5K running program, developed to help fitness novices build up to being able to run a 5K at the end of nine weeks. The program is designed in a way that allows participants to slowly build-up to the end goal. During week one, participants spend much of their time walking. Over time, the running time increases each day, until, in the end, those who complete the challenge can run a 5K without stopping.

If running isn’t your goal, you can still adopt a similar approach. Want to start meditating every day? Start by setting a goal of downloading a meditation app. Then make your next goal to spend 5 minutes each week meditating. The next week, your objectives could be to meditate three times per week for 5 minutes. By the end of the month, you may find yourself meditating every single day. Writing down realistic steps you can take to work towards a goal will keep you on track, and for those who are intrinsically motivated, assigning metrics or deadlines can be even more powerful, which brings us to the next tip.

Tip #7: Assign Metrics or Deadlines

“Goals are dreams with deadlines.”

― Diana Scharf

It’s human nature to procrastinate, which is why it’s dangerous to set goals without deadlines. This is one of the most common reasons why New Year’s Resolutions fail. If you think you have all year to complete a goal, you’re more likely to put off getting started on the work needed to achieve the goal. But if you’ve set smaller milestone goals and then set clear deadlines for checking those off your list, you’re much less likely to slack off.

Once you’ve broken your larger goals down into smaller steps, get your calendar out, and start penciling in action items for yourself. For example, are you working towards completing the Couch 2 5K program? Schedule the weekly workouts into the calendar on your phone and set up alarms or reminders.

Miss a deadline or two along the way? Don’t be discouraged, and don’t let that be your excuse to abandon the cause. Just learn from your missteps and adjust future deadlines accordingly.

One step to go on the quest to crush your 2020 goals! This one might be the most important of all. One of the keys to success is accountability. Tip number eight will explain how vocalizing your goals can increase your likelihood of achieving them.

Tip #8: Tell Other People

It’s bad enough to let yourself down. Letting down friends and family? Bosses or coworkers? Even more disappointing. This is why it’s a good idea to openly share your big goals of 2020 with a few accountability partners. Verbalize your goals to trusted members of your inner circle and ask them to check in with you regularly to ask how they’re coming along. If you’re feeling courageous, you can even share your goals for the year on social media. If you’re not much for pen and paper, you can combine this step with the “write down your goals” step and get your goals in writing for the social media world to share.

When your aunt or your best friend from high school sees that you’re planning to run a marathon, they’re likely to check-in and ask you how training is going. They might even step up and offer to train with you or sign up to run a half marathon together. Beyond the added support, you might feel motivated to avoid a bit of public shame. No one wants to be that person who brags about their new healthy lifestyle and then abandons the cause in a few weeks.

So, go ahead. Once you’ve set your goals for the year, tell someone about them! There’s power in writing down your goals, and there’s even more power in verbalizing them.

Hopefully, with the help of these eight tips, you’ll be well on your way to making 2020 more successful, fulfilling, and productive than 2019. If you’re a small business leader struggling to come up with meaningful goals for the year ahead, then keep reading. We’ve brainstormed eight ideas for you to consider.

8 Goals That Will Benefit Your Small Business in 2020

  1. Reduce ongoing business expenses by canceling one subscription (Ex: Could you save by cutting cable from the office? Bundling services? Moving your communications software to the cloud?)
  2. Utilize one of these marketing tips to boost brand awareness.
  3. Join a local networking organization. (Try searching Meetup, LinkedIn, and Facebook for options in your area)
  4. Begin a gratitude journaling practice.
  5. Outsource one task that you don’t enjoy. (Ex: hire a proofreader on Upwork, or a house cleaner on Thumbtack. Use the extra time to focus on putting more effort behind the tasks you do love.
  6. Plan a technology-free vacation. Even a long weekend away from work will recharge your mind, body, and soul and reinvigorate your passion for the business.
  7. Read a book that will help you find ways to work more productively. (Consider one of these)
  8. Invest in one new piece of technology that will help you work more effectively. (It could be a new phone, a white noise machine for your home office, or even a new coffee machine)

Bonus: 4 Entrepreneurs Share Their Goals for 2020

Danh Tran, founder of Buttercloth

“My New Year's Resolution as a founder is to celebrate the small moments more. As a startup team, my employees work so hard every day and have to wear many hats. I appreciate them so much and we always celebrate the big wins together, so in 2020 I want to incorporate more day-to-day recognition to start off the new decade of growth on a positive note.

Every entrepreneur should resolve to dream bigger in 2020. It might sound cliche, but we're at the start of a new decade which is really exciting. Think about the next 10 years. What do you want to achieve? Where do you want to be in 2030? Dream big, and start chasing those goals as soon as possible.”

Cathryn Lavery, co-founder & CEO of BestSelf Co.

“I recommend for everyone to set New Year's Resolutions for three different areas of your life: business, health, and growth. I prefer to call them "goals" because, for me, they come from a reflection of the past year, and a plan for how I want to live my life in the new year. This year, my goal is to always go after what I want wholeheartedly.

In 2019, we focused on expanding our product line at BestSelf Co. to extend beyond just journals and planners. In 2020, we're looking forward to now expanding our relationship with each customer by creating a deeper sense of community. Our resolution as a company is to help customers keep their resolutions by being a consistent source of motivation, inspiration and accountability. As a founder, our community will be my biggest focus in the new year.”

Sara Schaer, co-founder of Kango

“My New Year's Resolution is to prioritize our employees' professional and personal development as the company continues to grow. As an entrepreneur, I am fortunate to have developed a supportive network of mentors and advisors over time. I want to encourage and help our team members to formulate their own goals, develop resources to support their journey, and achieve their aspirations. As a leader, once you know about someone's goal, you are in a position to help them achieve it. I want to help Kango's employees thrive in the New Year and beyond.

My New Year's Resolution advice for other entrepreneurs in 2020 is to encourage them to anticipate, participate, and stay on top of regulatory moves in your industry. As legislation changes, it's so important to be aware of what is evolving. Even as a startup, you can contribute to the conversation and join industry groups to make your voice heard.”

Evan Mendelsohn, co-founder of Tipsy Elves

“My New Year's Resolution is to spark joy. It sounds very Mari Kondo, but I think it's a great principle that every business leader can apply to their life and their company. Be the reason for someone else's happiness! I hope our products at Tipsy Elves do that for people every day, but in 2020 I'm making a more intentional effort to bring joy daily for the people around me and for my employees.”

Bringing it All Together

Make 2020 the year you set smarter goals and achieve them! With a bit of careful planning and a healthy dose of accountability, you can look back on the year with pride. For small businesses, in particular, success in 2020 is about more than just having the right goals and strategy in place. You also need the right technology. 8x8 can help! We offer an integrated communications solution that will give you the reliable tools you need to keep your business healthy and connected all year long. Check out 8x8 Express and learn how to get a free 30-day trial.