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How to Stick With New Year’s Resolutions

Experts share their top tips for achieving lasting goals.
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Given the last two years we’ve all gone through, 2022 seems like a good time to start fresh. And that means making some New Year’s resolutions. If you’ve tried and failed in the past at sticking with these goals, you’re not alone. Less than 8% of people carry through with them. What’s the trick to actually help build new habits? Well, we tapped a few health and wellness experts to find out their recommendations for making 2022 the year we finally keep those resolutions.

Focus on Daily Goals

The way we go about resolutions can be fundamentally misguided. Take the two most common New Year’s Resolutions, for example: to lose weight and get in shape. Both of those are qualitative improvements in health and lifestyle. But too often, those resolutions are quickly abandoned due merely to how they are structured in the first place. Why?

“These are considered outcome goals, specific yet often rigid targets that have many components outside of your direct control,” says Licensed Clinical Psychologist, Dr. Justin Ross at UCHealth. “Rather than focusing on outcome goals, resolutions need to focus on behavioral standards – targets you can hit daily. For example, instead of resolving to lose 20 pounds, a better focus would be to exercise 150 minutes per week and eat 4-5 servings and fruits and vegetables daily. Those standards are measurable, highly controllable and aligned with the deeper goal.”

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Make Sure Your Goals Are Specific

“Your goals should be specific such as, ‘I’m going to lose weight by…’ or ‘I’m going to change my sleeping habits because…’ You should have a verb or action to it,” says Johanna Sapakie, FlexItPRO virtual personal trainer who works with Jennifer Lopez. “That will set you up for more success than something so general that’s hard to start or achieve.”

Start Small

“You don’t have to do everything at once,” says certified Ayurveda wellness counselor Beth Lauren. “Adding one or two basics, such as tongue scraping and eating your largest meal for lunch, will improve your health. It’s the same with a New Year’s resolution. Start small. Use the stairs instead of the elevator, go for an early morning run or walk, adding steps or miles each week. You don’t have to commit to an Ironman or a dramatic weight loss to keep your resolutions.”

Find Support

“The other consideration is to loop in support,” says Ross. “Starting to make behavioral changes is easy, but sustaining that effort over time is much more difficult. We are more likely to continue if we have built-in support with others chasing down the same goals. Connect with someone and make an accountability plan to keep each other on track.”

Don’t Bail If You Fail

“Progress is not a straight line, and everybody has setbacks,” says Sapakie. “So just because you take a step back out of the gate doesn’t mean you’re off your path. Just brush off your shoulders and take another step forward. Like every other human on the planet, you’re making progress a little bit at a time. If you blow your goal after three days, reevaluate your game plan and try again. Become the best version of yourself one step at a time.”