Secrets to Succeeding at the Most Popular New Year’s Resolutions

Experts suggest biggest key is to not set yourself up to fail with unrealistic goals.

January 1, 2019 5:00 am

Here’s the trick to making your New Year’s resolution stick: It’s as simple as taking it easy.

At the beginning of 2018, nearly 70% of Americans made a resolution, according to a survey conducted by YouGov, an online polling firm. Among the top ten goals people set for themselves were to eat healthier foods, lose weight, quit smoking, save money and read more books. But no matter the aim, many of the elements that set us up for a successful year revolve around the same principle — to just chill out a bit.

Your 2019 New Year’s resolutions are more attainable than you may think. (Getty Images)
Getty Images

Having a game plan, not being too hard on yourself, expecting to stumble and remembering that it’s a long-term process, are all important keys to achieving.

But don’t worry, RealClearLife has resolved to help you along your way:

Why So Serious?

The idea of a New Year’s resolution tends to loom at the beginning of each January as a huge deal that sets the tone for the next 12 months. But it doesn’t have to be that intense.

“Rather than using the term “resolution,” I prefer words like intentions, changes, steps, or goals,” Dr. Lisa Young, a registered dietician, nutritionist and author of the upcoming book, Finally Full, Finally Slim, told Real Clear Life. “Resolutions have a tendency for some to be very black and white and if you haven’t met it (your goal) by February, then that means you’ve failed and it all falls apart from there.”

Instead of seeing your “changes” as so life-altering, think of them instead as aspirations you’re going to work towards.

 Don’t Dwell

With about 80% of people ditching their resolutions by the second week of February, it seems easy to become consumed by thoughts of defeat. That’s why it’s important not to beat yourself up if you’re not progressing as quickly as you’d like.

“Don’t dwell on the past or what you’re failing at,” Dr. Young told RCL.

Setbacks are normal and should strengthen, rather than hinder your determination to succeed. Dust yourself off and try again.

Take Small Steps

Diving head-first into a major life change is a means of self-sabotage that too many people engage in because they don’t have a plan.

When it comes to diet, for instance — “If you’re a person who’s eating a bagel for breakfast and a sandwich for lunch and dipping into the bread basket at dinner, don’t ban all bread but instead, try to cut out white flour and maybe don’t eat it at all three meals,” Dr. Young advised. “Try to set tangible tasks.”

The same applies to exercise. Those who’d like to get into running will likely hurt themselves — and their goals — if they try to push their bodies to run a 5k with no experience.

Alternatively, Dr. Young recommends doing about 20 minutes of something you like, three to four days a week, at a time of day that you can actually do it. 

Be Realistic

“I counsel clients who want to get down to goal weights that they’ve never achieved before,” Dr. Young said.

Remember that you can’t compare yourself to others or even to previous versions of yourself. When it comes to your finances, for example, if you’re trying to save as much money as a friend who has a higher salary, you might be setting yourself up to fail. Come up with a figure that’s more in-line with your current budget, instead, and push yourself from there — over time — to cut expenses where you can.

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