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Here’s how to make this annual goal-setting practice something that actually yields results.

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There’s nothing like a fresh start to get you motivated to make positive changes in your life. At least that’s what spurs millions of people to make New Year’s resolutions each year. But although it’s hard to say exactly how many people stick to the resolutions they make for more than a few weeks (or a few days!), the numbers don’t look great. It’s estimated that a large majority of people give up on their well-intentioned goals shortly after they change the calendar.

So what’s the point of making resolutions if the odds are stacked against you that you’ll actually stick to them? There are some very good reasons to do so—after all, most people make resolutions that are designed to improve their lives and that’s a good thing.

They key to really making it worth it is to do it right so you’re more likely to be among the minority of people who are successful in meeting their goals.

Here are some tips to help you make the most out resolution-setting:

      • Be realistic – While it’s great to be wide-eyed and excited about all the changes you want to make in your life, you’re more likely to stick to your plans if you set realistic goals. Don’t assume you’ll change your whole life just because the calendar resets itself on January 1. Make resolutions that are reasonable for where you are in your life right now.
      • Set small and measurable goals – One of the best ways to stay motivated is to feel you’re able to reach a goal. Rather than setting lofty goals where you can’t see the end in sight, make your goals smaller and measurable. This way, you will be able to see progress and that will help to spur you on.
      • Make a plan – You’ve likely heard the expression “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” And when it comes to enacting change in your life, this expression sums it up. You can’t resolve to lose weight, exercise more, quit smoking, save more money or fill-in-the-blank unless you have figured out the steps you need to take to make it happen.
      • Stay positive – Resolutions don’t have to be an all-or-nothing proposition. That is, if you want them to last. Even if you have a slip up or aren’t making as much progress as you had hoped, look at the positive aspects of what you’re doing and remind yourself that any positive change is a good change. That’s way more helpful than throwing in the towel, don’t you think?

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Date Last Reviewed: November 12, 2021

Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor

Medical Review: Perry Pitkow, MD

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