Living Well

5 tips for making New Year’s resolutions that stick

5 tips for making New Year’s resolutions that stick

We all know how it goes. As the end of the year approaches, we start looking forward to everything we want to do differently during the next. Maybe we want to transform our health, start a new fitness routine, or totally revamp our diet and lifestyle. With all the optimism of a new year and the best of intentions, we decide to get serious about our goals by making New Year’s resolutions.

While that “new year, new me” enthusiasm is undeniably exciting, the statistics aren’t in our favor. By the second week of February, 80% of resolution-makers have already let their goals slide—and less than 10% of us make our resolutions last all the way through the year.

Ok, we know the stats aren’t great—but don’t let those numbers discourage you from making healthy changes in your life! As we head into the new year, try out these strategies for setting SMART resolutions that actually stick.

Try this: Instead of setting a massive, unrealistic goal that will be hard to meet, follow the SMART strategy by making your goals specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-specific.

1. Be specific

Vague goals, such as getting in shape or improving mental health, are harder to achieve than concrete, realistic plans like training for a 5k or choosing to meditate for 5-minutes a day. Having detailed, specific goals with clear milestones will help you stay motivated as you continue to see the results.

2. Think one step at a time

We all want to go big or go home with our resolutions, but that’s a major reason why people fail to achieve them. Instead, try setting a smaller goal to start with. Meeting that first goal will be a huge morale booster, encouraging you to keep going towards your next one. For example, if your resolution is to lose 20 pounds, start by adding a serving of healthy fruits and veggies to your lunches this week. Instead of focusing on the end point, concentrate on the small steps that take you closer to your goal.

3. Stay flexible

woman measuring pulse and looking at watch

Say your resolution is to get into good enough shape to run a half-marathon. You create a training plan, with consistent milestones and specific goals. However, maybe you find that the increasing mileage is causing your knee to hurt, or that it’s too cold in the morning to complete your training runs before work like you’d planned. Maybe you even find out that you simply don’t enjoy running! No worries. Stay flexible and open to changing your plan. Rethinking your goal isn’t a failure—it’s a smart strategy for finding something else that fits your life better.

4. Celebrate your wins

As you move along through the year, don’t forget to give yourself credit and celebrate your wins as you achieve them. Treat yourself to a yummy meal, buy a bouquet of your favorite flowers, or allow yourself to relax by taking a peaceful walk in the park. Whatever your goals are, working toward a healthier, happier life is hard work—and you should be proud of yourself and your efforts. Good for you!

5. Check in with yourself regularly

A regular check-in with yourself can help you stay on track. Consider practicing “Healthy Monday Resets”. Every Monday at the same time of day, take a few minutes to check in with yourself and reflect on the week before. What went well? Where can you improve next week? It’s okay if you’ve fallen behind or gotten off-track—that’s what the weekly reset is for! It’s the perfect opportunity to make a plan for how to get back on the path towards your goals.

This year, don’t let yourself fall into the trap of setting big resolutions without a plan to make them stick. By taking these tips to heart and setting specific, manageable goals, you’ll be on your way to accomplishing your resolution in no time. You’ve got this!

Dr. Cherie Bragg is a Primary Care provider with West Jefferson Medical Center. She's a native New Orleanian who has served the Algiers area for over 20 years. Her special interests include preventative medicine for adults and children, diabetes care, hypertension and end of life care.

She chose to practice primary care because she loves caring for patients throughout their entire lives. She also loves when multiple generations of the same family are under her care.

Learn more about Primary Care at West Jefferson: wjmc.org/primarycare