Ah, the New Year—a fresh start, a blank canvas and a chance to set some brand new goals. But let's face it, statistics show that the majority of our January resolutions don't make it past the first few weeks. We've all been there, amIright?

This year, I've got a paw-some solution to keep you on track: Help increase your resolution success by involving your furry best friends! Let's dive into some stats, common resolutions, and why your dog or horse could be the secret ingredient to success this year!

French bulldog standing in front of owner smiling at camera in Houston

New Year's resolutions in numbers

Before we pull our pets into this, let's take a quick look at some intriguing stats:

  1. You’re not alone if some of your own resolutions have faded away in the past. Approximately 80% of New Year's resolutions fail by February. Yikes – that’s a big number!
  2. Forbes.com tells us that for 2024 the top resolutions include improving fitness, improving finances, improving mental health, losing weight, improving diet, and making time for loved ones. Were any of these on your list, last January?


Don’t worry. You and I are together on this. I didn’t check off all of my 2023 resolutions either, but I still find goal-setting – or at least thinking about new goals – an inspiring way to start the year. Most of my goals from last year were business related and of course, photography related. While I didn't accomplish all of them, I did help me create a roadmap to visualize where I want to be with regards to my small business.

woman smiling at her horse while holding his bridle in Houston

Why New Year’s resolutions sometimes fall flat

We all know the cycle: We’ve got lots of enthusiasm in January as we make our New Year’s Eve toast, hit a bit of a slump in February, and by March, that resolution is a distant memory, or we’ve mentally put it off until life slows down a little bit.

Who’s the culprit?! Here are some common reasons we lose enthusiasm for our New Year's resolutions:

  • Vague goals. If your resolution isn’t specific enough, it’s super-hard to see and celebrate when you’ve been successful. ‘Losing weight’ is a LOT more achievable if you plan instead to lose 5 pounds by June instead. Learn off-camera flash is a very vague photography goal until I narrowed it down to learn a two-light umbrella studio setup or learn how to balance ambient light with a portable strobe outdoors.
  • Unrealistic expectations. “Make $100,000 in my business is a bigeee if you don't have a business plan on how to achieve that goal. How about starting with ‘book X number of clients each month’ instead?
  •  Insufficient planning. If you’ve chosen a big goal, you’ve gotta also think about the steps involved. Traveling to another country realistically starts with getting your passport. Wait too long to do that and all your lovely travel plans are derailed. Some resolutions are actually a handful of goals, not just one!
  • Mindset challenges Yeah, we’ve all got our baggage, and sometimes as in my case, it's comparing yourself and your work to others in the same field. I worked very hard last year on stopping my self from constantly doing this, every journey is unique and you can't compare yourself to others because everyone's on a different point in their path.

Paw-sibilities Are Endless: Pet-Friendly Resolutions for 2024


So, where do our pets fit into all of this? My favorite strategy to make a new habit stick is to include my four dogs and husband in my planning. If my dogs can get up every morning in a good mood and want to spend time outdoors then I can too! And–bonus! You’ll tick off that ‘spending more time with those I love’ goal off your list!

Let's add a furry twist to the most common New Year’s resolutions!

         Exercise more! Pet Spin: take your dogs for a morning walk before you start the business of the day. Practice mindfullness while doing it, look at the birds, smell the grass, notice how the leaves on the trees are looking this season, what kind of clouds are in the sky.

  • Learn a new skill or hobby: Pet spin: train your dog to do a trick! Or practice training your dog in new manners, like waiting calmly at the front door before your walk or to stop barking at the UPS delivery guy.
  • Save money/spend less:  Pet spin: Instead of buying treats or new dog toys every week, try making your own at home!
  • Read more:  Pet spin: This one is my favorite! I'm normally a voracious reader but I'm always on the lookout for books that help me understand more about canine and equine behavior.
  • Travel: Pet spin: These days we very rarely travel without our dogs. Researching new pet-friendly (and breed friendly) places to visit around the state is so interesting and fun!
  • Enjoy life! Pet spin: Honestly, the key to this one is simple: Slow Down. Life moves by fast enough, take some time, take a breath, notice the details about your dog or horse, things you want to remember and cherish. Spend quality time with them, playing ball or just cuddling on the couch.
portrait of beloved dog over home office desk Kelly J. Russo Photography

Pets are the perfect daily reminder


When you add a daily dose of dog or horse to your yearly goals, they become a fun (not choresome) addition to your weekly task list. Since your pet is right there beside you every day, help them become positive reminders of the goals you’d like to accomplish!


●     Schedule a professional photo session for your dog or horse. We all know our pets are not here as long as we want, why not capture their personality and your love for them in portraits that will make you smile for years down the road.

●     Is budget-building your goal? Build a budget for your pet, first! It will be a shorter, but similar list, with food, medical care, fun, etc. Yes, it can be a little eye-opening: THAT much for food? THAT much for a yearly veterinarian visit? But once your pet’s budget is complete, you’ll have part of your own done, too, and you’ll be on your way to completing that resolution!

●     If you’re a paper-planner kind of person like me, splurge on some pet-themed stickers to brighten up your planner and remind yourself to get out with your pet.

●     Practice your new, more positive mindset by taking just a few seconds to enjoy the end of each walk, play session, or car ride with your pet. There’s nothing but good vibes in their eyes, then!


Nothing provides a more immediate glow of enjoyment than returning from a walk with your dog or a trail ride on your horse so take just a few minutes now to think about how you can wrap your pet into the resolutions you’re planning for 2024!

Resolution success is all about joy and sustainability

I'm thinking that adding our pets to our resolution-making is the secret sauce for not just crushing our goals but also cooking up some unforgettable memories. Are you ready to make this year the most pawesome one yet!