How To Make New Year’s Resolutions That Stick

At this time of year, many of us take stock of the past 12 months and promise to do better next year. We vow to lose weight, volunteer more often and save more, all at the same time.

These are worthy goals; however, if you totally overhaul your life in January, there’s a good chance your motivation will fade by February. Keep your New Year’s resolutions all year long by taking small steps and by enlisting social support. Here’s how:

1. Get Specific

“Eat healthier” is too vague. Eat what? How much? Set specific goals, such as “Eat one extra serving of vegetables five days a week.” The more specific the goal, the easier it is to stay focused.

Did you achieve your goal for two weeks straight? Share your accomplishment on your favorite social channel. The likes, loves, and notes of encouragement will keep you excited about your plan.

2. Start Small

If you want to exercise more, don’t go from three days of walking to seven days of running and strength training. Start by adding one day of aerobic exercise or strength training per week. Build up incrementally, setting goals you think you can keep, until you reach your ultimate target. Did you gain any insights along the way? Tweet about it.

3. Get Social

Join your company’s lunchtime walking group to hit your steps goal. Enroll in a dance class or grab a friend and hit the trails for a hike. On Facebook, you can find dozens of weight loss and healthy lifestyle support groups where you can seek and offer support.Committing to a regular class or group activity keeps you accountable.

4. Share Your Progress

You’ll stay motivated and garner supporters along the way. You’re also likely to stick with your program when you’ve promised to share your progress with your followers. You may even inspire friends to join you in your journey to a healthier you. Hashtag, #nailedit!

5. Use an App

Fitness apps can give you the extra push you need to stay focused on your goals long-term. When you use a fitness app, you also become part of a large, healthy community that motivates you every day.

6. Cut Yourself Some Slack

So you had a bad day and consoled yourself with a pint of rocky road. Don’t beat yourself up. When you commit to a healthier lifestyle, you don’t have to be perfect. Missteps are normal. Shake it off and get back on track tomorrow.

On the flipside, reward yourself when you hit certain milestones. For example, when you lose five pounds or achieve your exercise goals for 30 days, treat yourself to a massage.

By setting specific, achievable goals and by seeking support from your social network, you can turn those New Year’s resolutions into a long-term healthy lifestyle.

Kent L. Bradley, M.D., MBA, MPH – Vice President, Medical Affairs Nutrition Education

Kent L. BradleyM.D., MBA, MPH – Vice President, Medical Affairs Nutrition Education

Dr. Bradley is a retired Army Colonel, graduate of the United States Military Academy and has a Master in Public Health from the University of Minnesota, an executive MBA from the University of Denver, and a medical degree from the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences, Bethesda, Maryland. He is board certified in Public Health and Preventive Medicine and holds a certificate in Corporate Governance from INSEAD.