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How to Make Your New Year’s Resolution Stick

The majority of people make some type of healthy New Year’s resolution. More often than not, these resolutions are quite lofty.  We tell ourselves that this is going to be the year we become a morning person and run five miles before work, adopt a strict vegan food plan or eliminate every grain of sugar from our diet. New Year’s resolutions are great because they give us hope and inspiration and a sense of purpose. Unfortunately when we shoot a little too high, our resolutions fall to the wayside. According to one study, about 8 percent of people actually keep their New Year’s resolutions!

Break down your resolution into small objectives to meet your goal

Psychologists have found we’re more likely to succeed if we break down our larger resolution into smaller, more specific objectives. Instead of eliminating a specific food as your 2019 resolution, a more successful long-term plan might include allowing yourself to enjoy that food once per week. Another alternative would be to cut down on that particular portion size instead of completely eliminating it altogether.  These tactics will help you create lasting behavior changes.

Reward yourself along the way

Another approach that will help you stay on track of your resolutions is to create a list of incentives that will help you reach your goals. We crave instant gratification in the modern world, and we usually get it. Shopping, eating cake, a second margarita – all those things provide instant gratification and a nice little shot of dopamine to our brains.  Break down your long-term goals into doable segments, and create a series of small rewards for every step forward. You’ll give yourself that immediate gratification that is otherwise lacking in lofty goals. Instead of rewarding yourself with a pint of ice cream, however, go play a round of golf or enjoy an afternoon at your favorite spa.

Plan ahead

If you are truly serious about making a lasting change at the start of a new year, don’t wait until New Year’s Eve to choose your resolution.  Take some time to think about what you want to achieve in 2019. Find something really important to you and that you really want to change. We all know that we have to move and exercise, so determining why you want to exercise and what you want to achieve is the better question.   Make one goal as your chances are greater when you channel all of your energy into one important behavior change.

Instead of making extreme resolutions, approach your goals as a “reset” to increase your chances for long-term success in 2019!