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New Year’s Resolutions 2020: A New Approach

Written by Evolve's Behavioral Health Content Team​:

Alyson Orcena, LMFT, Melissa Vallas, MD, Shikha Verma, MD, Ellen Bloch, LCSW, Lianne Tendler, LMFT, Megan Johnston, LMFT Meet The Team >

Last December we published a post with this title:

Are New Year’s Resolutions Even Worth Making?

Our answer – even though statistically speaking, most people don’t keep their resolutions – was easy to reach:

“Yes, they absolutely are.”


Because we work in a field where we every day, we help people rebuild their lives and create better futures. In that way, our work is based on hope, aspiration, and the belief we can accomplish anything, no matter how difficult it may seem.

That’s why we think it’s a good idea to make New Year’s Resolutions. We always advocate looking for ways to improve your life and setting goals for achieving what you want.

It’s not always easy, though – that’s why last year we included a list of ways to help you keep your resolutions.

This year, we’ll take a different angle. First, we’ll review the most popular resolutions for 2019, talk about what people think about resolutions in general, then offer statistics on how well people in the U.S. did in keeping their resolutions over the course of the year. Next, we’ll present the most popular resolutions for 2020, and finally, we’ll talk about the new approach to resolutions we advocate trying this year.


Here goes.

New Year’s Resolutions 2019: A Review

An online poll conducted by Statista in November 2018 asked Americans what they resolved to do in 2019. This is how they replied:

  • 53% said they want to save more money
  • 45% said they want to lose weight or get in shape
  • 24% said they want to travel more
  • 23% said they want to read more books
  • 22% said they want to learn a new skill or hobby
  • 16% said they want to quit smoking

In a poll conducted by Ipsos a year later, in November 2019, followed up with Americans and asked whether they had stuck with their New Year’s resolutions. Here’s how they replied:

  • 56% said no, they had not kept up with their resolution(s)
  • 44% said yes, they had kept up with their resolution(s).

Then they followed up and asked those who had not kept up their resolutions why they hadn’t. Here’s how they replied:

  • 45% said they lost motivation
  • 20% said they got too busy
  • 15% said they changed their mind about it
  • 11% said did not have adequate support

New Year’s Resolutions 2020: The Most Popular

The same Ipsos poll that asked the follow-up questions on 2019 New Year’s Resolutions asked people about their resolutions for 2020.

Here are the resolutions that topped the list.

Ipsos Poll: Top 8 New Year’s Resolutions for 2020

  1. 51% said they want to improve their health and finances in general.
  2. 50% said they want to be more active.
  3. 42% said they want to lose weight.
  4. 38% said they want to improve mental well being with stress reduction techniques such as mindfulness.
  5. 30% said they want to improve their social connections. This includes getting involved in community events, improving current relationships, and falling in love.
  6. 22% said they want to learn a new skill, such as playing a musical instrument, speaking a foreign language, or beginning a new sport.
  7. 22% also said they want to help the environment by cutting down on waste, recycling, using less plastic, and volunteering for environmental causes.
  8. 19% said they have other health-related goals not mentioned above. These include stopping smoking, drinking less alcohol, and getting more sleep.

The Ipsos poll also included a section designed to find out what people think about New Year’s Resolutions in general. They presented three statements and asked people to indicate whether they agree, disagree, or neither.

Here are the statements and how people responded:

“Most people don’t stick to New Year’s Resolutions.”
  • Agree: 80%
  • Neither agree nor disagree: 13%
  • Strongly disagree: 3%
“New Year’s Resolutions are pointless.”
  • Agree: 48%
  • Neither agree nor disagree: 26%
  • Strongly disagree: 23%
“New Year’s Resolutions have helped me improve my life.”
  • Agree: 22%
  • Neither agree nor disagree: 30%
  • Strongly disagree: 42%

That’s interesting: although most people think most people don’t stick to their resolutions, almost half don’t think they’re pointless, and almost one in five people say New Year’s Resolutions have helped improve their lives.

That tells us that for the most part, people are pragmatic, in that they realize most resolutions are not kept. But it also tells us their pragmatism is shaded toward optimism, because almost half of them think there’s some value in making resolutions.

A New Approach For 2020

When you think of resolutions, you typically think of concrete, discernible, objectively verifiable things you want to accomplish. For instance: save this amount of money, lose that number of pounds, go to this number of yoga classes every week, learn how to play that musical instrument.

That’s a good way to approach resolutions, because when you get down to brass tacks, most resolutions come in the form of goals. And the goals experts tell us the best way to achieve goals is to make them specific and measurable, so you know exactly what you’re doing, how to achieve it, and whether you’ve achieved it or not.

This year, though, we encourage you to think of goals – or resolutions – that may not be so tangible. And therefore, determining whether you’ve achieved them might not be a matter of answering a simple yes/no question. There may be some subjectivity involved. You’ll see what we mean as soon as you read our list of suggestions.

This year – for 2020 – consider making resolutions like these five.

Evolve’s Top Five New Year’s Resolutions

  1. Be Kind
  2. Be Compassionate
  3. Be a Good Friend
  4. Listen More
  5. Judge Less

See what we mean?

While we think – actually we know – all five of these resolutions are worth making and keeping, the way you judge your success at keeping them is entirely up to you. Only you will know if you’ve been as kind as you can be, as compassionate as you can be and as good a friend as you can be. You’ll also be in the best position to know if you listened more and judged less during 2020. Which is good, because these resolutions while these resolutions appear to be about other people – being kind, compassionate, etc. – they’re really all about what’s inside you.

And that’s exactly why we think you should try them.

Our Behavioral Health Content Team

We are an expert team of behavioral health professionals who are united in our commitment to adolescent recovery and well-being.

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