Qualities needed to keep a New Year’s resolution

Author and Medical Reviewer
Dr. Jose Toledo

New Year resolution

At this time of year, a great many of us vow to make abiding positive changes… a New Year’s resolution. But for too many, these good intentions sadly do not even make it until the end of January.

Usually, the biggest problem that people experience is how to keep their resolution going. Or if it means stopping something such as drinking, smoking, or using drugs, people might find that they can stop relatively easily – but staying stopped is the hard part that seems impossible to achieve.

Yet lots of people do manage to keep their resolutions – and not only will they know the benefits, so most likely will those who are around them too. What then are the qualities and character traits they have to make their New Year’s resolution become a permanent part of their lives?



Self-discipline is essential from the very first second of deciding on a resolution. But that word “discipline” causes some people to recoil because it gives them an uncomfortable feeling associated with negative experiences at school or from the home they grew up in.

In order to deal with this, it helps to know that the word in fact comes from the Latin word disciplina meaning “knowledge, instruction”. Then you will know that being self-disciplined means to gain knowledge – and therefore growing towards reaching your full potential.

Self-discipline is keeping on doing what you have set yourself to do – no matter what. It is not willpower as that is not at all sustainable: it is a strain, not a natural state of being. Self-discipline is about maintenance, about keeping strong and steady through the calm and the storm.



A burning desire to reach a goal is quite possibly the greatest indicator of whether somebody will achieve their aim. This is certainly true for people who do well in recovery – they need a real desire to get well. 

As the Stoic philosopher, Seneca said: “To wish to be well is a part of becoming well.” In fact, it is the first part of becoming well. That desire has to be ongoing too.

So it is similar regarding a New Year’s resolution. It’s no use just saying what you’d like, there needs to be a huge want to reach the goal.

Then dedication is vital too – to keep at it, no matter what happens.

This means to stay devoted to whatever the resolution is, to that which you have resolved to achieve. This is an essential trait to have at all times to achieve an aim, perhaps especially when things seem tough and when they seem easy too.



It’s such a valuable thing to know in life that the easiest choice for us to make is frequently not the best choice. So we need to find the courage to honestly admit that something needs to be done differently or even completely changed or stopped – and decide to do something about it.

This could be such as stopping drinking, smoking, a drug habit, or a behavioral addiction to such as work, relationships, gambling, or gaming. Courage is also needed if we are beginning a brand-new venture, whether that’s starting a new business or going off on a journey around the world.

It often seems the easiest option is to just stay exactly where we are, even if that’s an uncomfortable place. But know that nothing changes if nothing changes.

So we need to find and have courage – the word “courage” derives from Latin cor, which means “heart”. That’s where we need to look for courage, deep inside ourselves to know what is truly best for us and those around us too.



Without honestly admitting to ourselves that there is a problem, we can never find and achieve the solution. Without being honest and knowing that there is a goal that needs reaching or something needs to change in some way, no one is going to move forward.

In terms of a New Year’s resolution, this will strengthen the resolve. That will make it more likely to become a resolution that is achieved.

If you are struggling with keeping a resolution, ask yourself honestly: would my life – and of those people around me – be better if I achieved this resolution? Hear the answer loudly within – and stick to what you know you need to do.



As a bestselling author, CS Lewis put it: “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.” Humility means keeping your feet on the ground.

It might be that somebody made a vow to quit smoking marijuana as their New Year’s resolution and the first month seemed relatively easy. So in an instance like this, it means not getting arrogant or complacent.

Pride comes before a fall. So stay humble.

As well, have an open mind to ideas from someone who has achieved something similar or the very same to what you are resolving to do. Whatever they are suggesting might not sound likely to you to work, but consider they might be telling you something you need to know.

Open-mindedness and humility are essential traits to keep uppermost to achieve any resolution. If that is a New Year’s resolution you will know the wonderful feeling of achieving what you’ve vowed to do – and that will go a long way to giving you a most fantastic year. Our professional team of experts has helped people for decades with all types of mental health problems and emotional issues. Reach out to us today to hear how we can help you or someone you know.

David Hurst - Tikvah Lake Recovery

About David Hurst

David Hurst has four books published on mental health recovery, including 12 Steps To 1 Hero, The Anxiety Conversation and Words To Change Your Life. He has written for national newspapers and magazines around the world for 30 years including The Guardian, Psychologies, GQ, Esquire, Marie Claire and The Times. He has been in successful continual recovery since January 2002.

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