Stay positive to make resolutions stick

posted by Amber Brady on January 16, 2018

To most of us, a new year translates to ruminating over the failed resolutions we set for ourselves the year before and coming up with new ones that we’re also unlikely to keep. After all, only 8% of us are able to stick to our guns and achieve those Big Hairy Audacious Goals. While wanting to change something about ourselves or our situations isn’t necessarily a bad thing, more often than not, New Year’s resolutions set us up for a huge let-down.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Think about it. We’re setting huge, oftentimes vague goals to make drastic changes in our lives, whether that’s losing 20 pounds, quitting smoking, or giving up chocolate. With resolutions like these, it’s no wonder we fail. If you take a good, hard look at what you’re trying to give up or change, it’s really a matter of altering a behavior over goal setting, and behavior change is a hard thing to do without the right plan in place.

This year, how about looking at things a bit differently and setting yourself up for success rather than failure? If there’s a behavior, such as smoking, that you’d really like to change, start by putting a plan in action to help you achieve what you set out to do.

This is where positive psychology can help. Positive psychology frequently references the five pillars of well-being, or PERMA, which is a good tool when working on behavior change to help you focus on your strengths rather than your weaknesses.

What is PERMA?

Here’s a look at what PERMA stands for and how it can help you achieve your goals:PERMA description table

PERMA in action

Let’s say your goal is to eat more fruits and vegetables. How would you use PERMA to reach this goal? Start by asking yourself the questions in the chart above. Your answers may look something like this:Sample Perma Answers table

Remember, it’s important to set realistic goals that you can achieve. Check in with yourself along the way, too. Establishing small check points can help you stay the course. You’ll also want to factor in any obstacles you may have to overcome along the way, such as an unsupportive spouse or a busy work schedule. Support is crucial during this time, so make sure to identify people who can hold you accountable.

Behavior change is possible as long as you set yourself up for success before taking the plunge. Use PERMA to help you identify the steps you need to take and the motivations that will keep you going. Once you’ve done that, you’re well on your way to taking control of, not breaking, those resolutions.

This material is provided by Humana Inc., for informational use only and should not be construed as medical advice or used in place of consulting a licensed medical professional. Consult with your doctor to determine what is right for you.


1. Caroline Smith, “The PERMA Model: Bringing Well-being and Happiness to Your Life,” accessed September 2015,

2. “New Year’s Resolution Statistics,” Statistic Brain Research Institute, accessed September 2015,

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