When the clock struck midnight on January 1, you likely had all sorts of aspirations in your mind that you wanted to see become a reality in the new year. Whether your resolutions are health-related or otherwise, breaking them often tends to be the norm more than actually seeing them through. However, “Change is always possible,” according to Dr. Linda Nebeling, an expert in behavioral change and nutrition at NIH, and your best bet at success is starting with a plan.
- Make sure your resolution is SMART. It’s not enough to have a vague idea of where you want to be. Be precise with your goal and really assess how best to make it happen.
- Specific: What do I want to accomplish?
- Measurable: How will I track my progress?
- Achievable: What realistic steps can I take to accomplish this?
- Relevant: Is this important to me? Will I work for it?
- Time-framed: When will I accomplish this?
- Expect challenges. As pesky as they are, challenges are simply unavoidable, and both mentally and physically preparing yourself for setbacks will make a world of difference when they do inevitably arise. One failure doesn’t mean your journey is over – you just have to keep moving forward.
- Consider your environment. The success of your resolution is largely reliant on the tools you use to get yourself there; research the right equipment you might need if exercise is your goal. If you’re working on quitting unhealthy habits, separate yourself from temptation and try new hobbies or recipes to replace the old behavior.
- Don’t forget your social circle. Research shows that our health behaviors tend to mirror those of friends, loved ones and partners. Surround yourself with those who will support your goals and help you stay on track. You could even make the new, healthy behaviors a collaborative activity by going for a walk or visiting a farmers market with a friend. Have fun with it, and your habits will start to feel less like obligations.
- Celebrate achievements. It’s important to recognize lasting change doesn’t happen overnight. It’ll take some time to get where you want to be, and that journey can feel discouraging at times. Don’t look at your resolution as one big goal: celebrate small victories along the way. Every step matters and celebrating your successes can help you stay motivated in the future.
Here’s to a year filled with growth, strength, perseverance and, most of all, joy. Happy New Year!
Berendes, Gabriel. “Making New Year’s resolutions that stick.” https://www.mayoclinichealthsystem.org/hometown-health/speaking-of-health/making-new-years-resolutions-that-stick. Accessed December 1, 2022.
“Making Your Resolutions Stick.” https://newsinhealth.nih.gov/2010/12/making-your-resolutions-stick. Accessed December 1, 2022.