How to Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions

Each year, we love the chance at a fresh start with an intentional strategy. Over the years, we have learned how to keep New Year’s resolutions as a couple. As ever engineers, the process involves tracking, checkpoints, and accountability. 

Now, setting New Year’s goals together as a couple is a ritual. In this article, we share our four steps for setting, tracking, and achieving your New Year’s resolutions for 2020. 

Since we have several years of data collected on our New Year’s resolutions, we’ll use our own goals to show you how we track and rate progress and goal completion. 

So, let’s start with how to keep your New Year’s Resolutions for 2020. 

how to keep new year’s resolutions for 2020

Let’s take a look at the hard facts. New Year’s Resolutions are notoriously challenging to keep. To keep goals for the new year as a couple is even harder. But, we know you are up for the challenge. Our process will help. 

The statistics say that 82% of people fail to keep their resolution’s by the second week of February. For couple’s specifically, 44% of men confessed to making a New Year’s Resolutions for the spouse. Thirty percent of women admitted the same.

So, what are these goals? The majority of them deal with getting healthier, in both fitness and nutrition.

But there’s hope. One statistic shows that when couples set goals together and work toward a combined goal, they’re 92% more likely to succeed than individuals. Wow!

Actually, we just fabricated that statistic. However, based on our experience working with hundreds of couples, we believe it’s true. 

Either way, we Duo Lifers aren’t the general public. We can beat the odds, together.

Step 1: New Year’s Resolutions 2020 Strategy

For years, we have sat down together and created, our New Year’s Resolutions together. We label each category, action item, frequency of checkpoints, accountability plan, and a column to rate ourselves at six and twelve months.

We usually set our goals with pen and paper. Then, we then create a shared Google Sheet so that we can refer to it throughout the year.

Additionally, we list our top 5 and top 10 goals on our Evernote to-do list so that we are reminded of our big-picture goals daily. If you don’t have a goal-oriented to-do list process that is driving your every day, we highly recommend you implement our method of creating and managing a to-do list in Evernote.

Write down your goals together, and start tracking your progress toward your New Year’s resolutions for 2020. Download the below PDF. It’s our exact New Year’s resolutions tracker for 2020 for the coming year:

New Year's Resolution Tracker for 2020

Start your new year not just with a bang, but with a plan. A tool that Ryan and Alex have used since 2016, document, track, and create an accountability system for your New Year's Resolutions for 2020. Don't be like the 80% who give up on their resolutions by January!


Step 2: Create Meaningful and Specific Goals

While we often include stretch goals in our Monthly Habit Tracker Sheet (free download below), we always make sure they’re grounded in reality. We’re not mixing up our dream board with our New Year’s Resolutions for 2020.

However, we do believe that the two are tied together. Therefore, at the top of our tracker sheet, we always write our year’s purpose. That way, the goals you create support your purpose and bring you closer to your goal.

An example of a meaningful and realistic goal is by making sure it is specific. Instead of writing, “Become fluent in Spanish,” you can instead list, “Watch one Spanish TV show episode a week and record new words.”

Firstly, that is a measurable goal that you can track. And, secondly, being more specific allows you to you look forward to completing your goal without giving yourself an overly daunting and intimidating task.

Ryan and I also believe in setting well-rounded goals as a couple. To achieve that, our tracker sheet includes a column to list goal categories. When you download the tracker sheet, you’ll see we’ve provided ideas for goal categories. For example, career, personal development, hobbies, and relationship.

This is further corroborated by a 2016 study conducted by the University of Chicago. The study found that the biggest predictor of success for longterm goals was whether or not people received immediate rewards. So, it is important to keep your resolutions small but create meaningful habit change over the longterm.

Step 3: Build In Accountability

The goal of this article is to teach you how to keep your New Year’s resolutions in 2020. So, please take this step seriously. We believe this is an area many people overlook. It’s critical to your success in 2020.

Our 2020 New Year’s Resolution Tracker for couples requires an accountability plan. When looking at our prior years’ tracker sheets, we realize that we’re the most successful when there is accountability.

Fortunately, since you have a strategy to keep your 2020 New Year’s resolutions as a couple, you’re already at a huge advantage. For example, in this study 50% of women smokers successfully quit when their partner stopped smoking at the same time.

That’s a great success rate compared to only 17% whose partners didn’t smoke to start with, and 8% whose partners continued to smoke regularly. Working together toward a shared goal is where the magic happens.

This accountability can take the form of Ryan checking in on Alex or creating an external pusher, such as signing up and committing to a paid race/competition.

Accountability works so well for us that we don’t need to list the more common resolutions on our tracker sheets anymore. Resolutions such as working out five days a week, losing 10 pounds, or eating healthy are now routine. However, it’s only that way after years of accountability, creating healthy habits.

Think of ways to include accountability for your goals. It’s essential that you start utilizing the benefits of exercising with your partner. In this article, we also provide you with a trick to help you manage your healthy diets as a couple.

Step 4: Review and Success

We have one final tip for how to keep your New Year’s resolutions for 2020. That is, review your goals often as a couple. No less than twice a year. A mid-year review is essential because goals change over time. Additionally, you need to check in on your goals to make sure you haven’t forgotten about a critical goal category such as personal development.

For example, last year, one of our goals was to practice Spanish at least an hour a day. However, by mid-year, we realized that our Spanish was serving us well. So, we modified that goal and allocated the time to our website.

A mid-year review is also critical to remind you of your goals. Too often, these goals are out of our heads and out of our minds by the end of January. However, by printing our the tracker sheet and reviewing it periodically, you’re significantly more like to keep your New Year’s resolutions for 2020.

To ensure success, don’t focus on a big 2020 New Year’s Resolutions that are daunting. Instead, break down goals into small daily steps. This approach will keep you moving closer to a larger goal.

For example, let’s use the goal of reading one book a month. We use our Monthly Habit Tracker to remind us to read at least 30 minutes a day. Having daily visibility to that goal helps us dramatically.

What’s more, is tackling these small daily steps gives you more opportunities to celebrate success together. Use our New Year’s resolutions tracker to record your big goals for 2020. Then print out our Monthly Habit Tracker to hold yourself accountable to the small daily steps necessary to achieve those big goals.

We prefer to print it the Monthly Habit Tracker, leave on our nightstand, and take pen to paper daily.

Monthly Habit Tracker (PDF)

Ever commit to a new habit yet find, just two days later, you can't stick with it - no matter how small?

Download and print this free PDF to help you commit up to 15 new healthy habits a month.

Leave it on your nightstand and track your accountability daily.

how we’ve kept our new year’s resolutions as a couple

We have been tracking our New Year’s Resolutions since 2017. Here are the types of goals that we had on our list as well as our year-end success scores. We know, some seem vague but we’ve edited for privacy – we recommend that you write down specific goals. 

Our 2017 New Year’s Resolutions – 7.9/10

  • Fitness: Getting wedding ready with Body Beast – 10/10
  • Social: Host monthly dinner parties – 3/10
  • Hobby: One hour a week learning Spanish (through podcasts, Rosetta Stone, and apps) – 2/10
  • Health: Sleep at least 8-hours a night and research how to improve the quality of sleep – 10/10
  • Nutrition: Track intake regularly, focusing on eating more vegetables and only healthy carbs allowed – 8/10
  • Beauty: Research and perfect skincare routine (both Alex and Ryan) – 10/10
  • Mindfulness: Journal about three things we’re grateful for each night and write in our Q&A a Day: 3-Year Journal – 10/10
  • Career: Ask our business mentors for more personal development books to read – 2/10
  • Wedding Planning: Discussions on Friday nights only (to keep our sanity!) – 10/10
  • Relationship: Guilt-free, no-work Friday nights – 10/10
  • Fitness: Follow our individual physical therapy routines weekly (for Ryan’s Achilles tendon and Alex’s calf) – 10/10
  • Efficiency: Research and use grocery store apps to ensure healthy eating – 10/10

Our 2018 New Year’s Resolutions – 7.5/10

  • Fitness: Alex to be able to do seven pull-ups and Ryan to be able to do an extended handstand – 6/10
  • Social: Host monthly dinner parties with new South American friends – 2/10
  • Hobby: One hour daily of Spanish lessons or immersion – 2/10
  • Health: No electronics at least one hour before bed for higher quality sleep – 9/10
  • Personal Development: Ryan to read at least one book a month. Alex to read monthly finance books – 8/10
  • Business: Build our website and create an awesome free course for couples – 9/10
  • Efficiency: Work on using synced online calendars to communicate/share plans better – 9/10
  • Relationship: Better division of labor for chores – 10/10
  • Nutrition: Cook together and take cooking classes for healthy vegetarian meals – 10/10
  • Career: Create a 3-year goal and work towards career development – 10/10

Our 2019 New Year’s Resolutions – 7.9/10

  • Fitness: Practice yoga two or three times weekly – 8/10
  • Fitness: Work outdoors at least once weekly – 10/10
  • Fitness: Ryan to practice handstands – 5/10
  • Fitness: Alex to do a split – 4/10
  • Nutrition: Cook new recipes at least twice weekly – 8/10
  • Nutrition: Eat slower (Ryan) – 9/10
  • Personal Development: Complete eight courses from Masterclass – 10/10
  • Personal Development: Read one book monthly, including two relationship books – 10/10
  • General Health: Unplug by 9 PM every night on weekdays –  5/10
  • Career: Focus on media outreach and get published in a variety of magazines, newspapers, journals, and online media companies – 8/10
  • Career: Set week’s goals every Sunday night – 10/10
  • Career: Increase website traffic to 10k monthly visitors – 5/10
  • Career: Increase social media strategy and followings – 8/10
  • Career: Take SEO and blog writing courses – 10/10

Now it’s your turn!

Now that you have learned how to keep your New Year’s resolutions for 2020, take action and follow our 4-step process. Download the New Year’s Resolutions Tracker for 2020 (big goals) and the Monthly Habit Tracker (daily steps toward big goals). We also recommend you get your to-do list in Evernote and follow our to-do list method.

It’s amazing what you can achieve when you plan, track progress, and focus on baby steps. 

For the over-achievers, we highly recommend you sign up for our Just Duo It program below. We’ll be with you in you inbox every day for a year helping you engineer you best life.


Couples Clean Week Content Ryan and Alex Duo Life

Couple's Clean Week

A 7-day kickstarter for couples to "try out" a healthy lifestyle.

  • Daily videos with "real talk" about common excuses and a roadmap to get on the same page as a couple
  • 30-minute, at-home video workouts 
  • Nutrition and grocery shopping guide
  • Bonus content made specifically for couples

When you successfully complete Couple's Clean Week, your enrollment is refunded. Make a bet with yourself to stick to healthy habits for 7-days.

$60 per couple, with 100% money back for couples truly committed to a healthy week.


just duo it course ryan and alex duo life 5

Just Duo It

Our flagship program. Transform your mind, body, and marriage using small, systematic steps. These tried-and-true techniques have been taken from our research and personal experiments to reconnect, get healthier, and add spontaneity into your relationship.

  • "Daily Duoables" to keep progress simple and easy
  • Access to our exclusive Duo Life Community app to stay accountable for your fitness and nutrition
  • Monthly guides to put it all together

We're willing to commit a year on you, are you ready to commit a year on you? Made for couples by couples.

How We Decluttered as a Couple

Are you a couple? If so, we understand the unique challenges that come with decluttering with another person.

You and your partner will inevitably have different decluttering, organizing, tidying up, and purchasing styles. Plus, there’s a chance that when you meld your households, you will have two of everything — with each person possibly preferring their own set.

However, decluttering as a couple not only streamlines your day and better utilizes your space. What’s more, is it helps you put more focus on the things you cherish and need.

As unbelievable as it sounds, taking on a decluttering challenge with your spouse or partner can be a relationship-building process. It’s an opportunity to keep items that resonate.

For Ryan (the hoarder and spender), it took time for him to get on board. What helped the most was that we moved around a lot, especially internationally. This meant that every few years, we had to evaluate the entirety of our belongings. It became apparent what things no longer fit with our traveling lifestyle.

However, not everyone has these same motivating opportunities. Alongside the moves, our hobbies began to change. While he loved snowmobiling with his friends, it wasn’t something we normally did together nor something he often did alone.

So, he sold his snowmobile, and whenever he had a guy’s trip, he borrowed one. We put that extra cash towards strengthening the hobbies we did more frequently, like hiking and skiing.

No, this doesn’t mean that Ryan slowly gave up his identity as we morphed into a couple. He just realized that he didn’t always need to buy when he could borrow or rent, especially on infrequent hobbies. Plus, with the money we earned, we were able to upgrade some of the things that sparked the most joy!

Finally, if you and your partner disagree on whether or not an item should go, just let it stay. There shouldn’t be any shame or judgment if one person loves a certain item, no matter how bizarre it is to you.

Remember, this exercise is to help improve your life and to create a home and space that you both love. It’s not about causing stress or rehashing why a grown adult man owns a pair of sweat shorts from Walmart (ahem, Ryan). If you’re not sure, keep it and revisit in six months.

However, if you think one person is hoarding more than necessary, talk about it and try to understand why. Compromise is critical when tidying up as a couple.

Step 1: How to Decide What to Sell

As a rule of thumb, if it’s something you haven’t used in the past six months, sell it. We understand that some items are seasonal and some are sentimental, but remember that quality is more important than quantity. If these are items that are only used occasionally (like a steamer), you can borrow from a friend or rent one for the few times you need it.

For decluttering clothing, our favorite decluttering tip is to turn all of your hanger hooks inwards. Every time you wear a clothing item, hang it back correctly. If after six months you haven’t touched an item, it’s time to sell it.

Finally, if you and your partner disagree on whether or not an item should go, just let it stay. There shouldn’t be any shame or judgment if one person loves a certain item, no matter how bizarre it is to you. Remember, this exercise is to help improve your life and to create a home and space that you both love. It’s not about causing stress or rehashing why a grown adult man owns a pair of sweat shorts from Walmart (ahem, Ryan). If you're not sure, keep it and revisit in six months.

However, if you think one person is hoarding more than necessary, talk about it and try to understand why. Compromise is critical when tidying up as a couple.

Step 2: Make it a Competition

While unorthodox, decluttering your home as a competition spurred us on to downsize before moving to Ecuador. We tried to sell everything (yes, everything! I literally sold a mop) and we kept a tally to determine who was in the lead.

Set a deadline of one month and sell away! If you don't have one month, at least settle for two weeks. You'll find that a lot of items go over the weekends so ideally, you'll want to get in as many as possible.

Bonus: It's a lot easier to let go of some items when you can make a small profit by selling them. You can also think of your item as going to a new home where it will be used more.

Step 3: Know Your Marketplaces

We highly recommend selling on Facebook Marketplace. It can be done through Facebook and Facebook Messenger apps on your phone or on your laptop. The benefits of Facebook Marketplace vs. Craigslist is that you can check out people’s profiles, filter closer locations, and rank in a buyer/seller rating system to prevent bad business.

Too often on Craigslist, we would get inquiries from people far away, and you don’t want to waste time coordinating or filtering. Plus, Craigslist is creepily anonymous.

Note that we did find value in using Craigslist for our higher-cost items, including selling our $1500 Tempur-Pedic mattress on there. Just note that with Craigslist comes a lot of spammers. Be careful and be up front that you will only accept cash and pick up only from the get-go.

Step 4: Set a Reasonable Price

Before selling an item, take a quick look on to check what the full, new price is. Then, take 50% off if it was in 'like-new' condition, and 75% off if it was used. If we didn’t get any takers after two weeks, we would lower the price.

Pricing can be challenging. It's inevitable that you'll agonize over if it’s too high or too low. You’ll likely receive offers that are far lower than your asking price, hoping for better to come along. 

That’s why we’ve set a one-month deadline because one week might not give you enough offers to know if you’ve listed a good price. Don't worry if you "lose" a buyer. There'll be more.

Trust us. This is not a lot of work. And it's about to get way easier with step 5. 

Step 5: Leave It On Your Doorstep, Literally

When you’re selling items, coordinating amongst potential buyers takes up too much time.

That’s why should pick a person who could pick it up that day — not tomorrow or this weekend, even if they messaged first. Then, tell them you’ll leave the item on your doorstep and to slip the cash under your doormat.

Never, out of the hundred or so items we’ve sold has this strategy gone awry. We lived on a walkable bar street in downtown Fort Worth. No one ever stole an item, and every item was also always paid for.

No stress, no worry, no face-to-face meeting. Keep it simple.

Step 6: Unsold Items? Time for a Yard Sale, Friend Giveaway, or Donation

There’s nothing more eco-friendly and green than recycling and reusing!

Step 7: Decide How You’ll Purchase and Purge Items in the Future

As a couple, sit down and decide how you’ll maintain your newly organized and tidy household. The simplest rule to follow is for every new item in, take an old item out. That means if you’ve upgraded or purchased a new sweater, an old sweater has to be sold or donated.

The goal of this Couple’s Decluttering Challenge is to create a permanent habit and lifestyle on how you keep and manage your possessions, together. If you need to re-do this challenge next year, then it’s time to repeat Step 7!

In our experience, completing this decluttering challenge will teach you to appreciate the material items that you own. It will also teach you to be more mindful of new material items that you bring into our life.

As decluttering challenge graduates, we no longer buy anything that we don't absolutely need, which leads to more saving as a couple. When we do buy items, we spend more time researching and deliberating. Therefore, the products we buy are top-quality, last for a long time, and come with a sense of pride. 

Happy decluttering and tidying up as a couple!

If you want to learn more, here are a few of our favorite decluttering books:

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo
The Year of Less by Cait Flanders
The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin


What did you think of the Couple's Decluttering Challenge? Let us know in the comments below, and we especially want to hear the best item you sold! In your new-found calm and spacious home, try our Couple's Yoga Challenge next. 

Featured On

As Seen In Feature Bar Ryan and Alex Duo Life

Hey we're Ryan and Alex

The creators of Ryan and Alex Duo Life. We are a husband-wife duo and “lifestyle engineers.”

After eight years working in the corporate world as engineers, we left our high-powered jobs to tackle our true passion — helping couples engineer their best lives.

The synergy of our engineering minds and ten years of health coaching experience produced Ryan and Alex Duo Life. Our mission is to help you transform your bodies, minds, and relationship as a couple.

Join our 84,000 monthly readers

Select your free gift and receive our newsletter bringing healthy couples practical tips and life-changing ideas based on science.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This