New Year's resolutions

Jennifer Geer

Go easy on yourself

Keep your changes small and doable for a positive change in your life.

Most New Year’s resolutions are doomed to fail in a normal year. Studies show that while the majority of us can keep it going for at least a week, over 80% of resolutions fail in the long term.

There is no reason to overwhelm ourselves with sweeping resolutions that are too difficult to keep, especially during times of great stress. However, this doesn’t mean we can’t create healthy habits that lead to lasting change.

Tip #1: Be Specific With Your Goals

It’s hard to succeed when your goals are overreaching and vague. You will find it easier to follow specific goals that have clear directions. For example, don’t have a goal that says, “I want to be healthier.” Think about how you can be healthier. You could vow to eat an extra serving of fruit and vegetables each day. Or you could cut out snacking before bed.

Or if you want to exercise more, make a specific plan to do so. You can have the goal to add an extra day to your routine or 10 minutes to each of your sessions.

Tip #2: Don’t Beat Yourself Up

We’re all under a lot of stress. Go easy on yourself if you have off days or trouble following your goals. You may need to acknowledge that you have picked up some unhealthy habits during the holidays.

There is no point lamenting unhealthy food we’ve consumed or extra glasses of wine, or any other self-destructive behaviors. All we can do is move forward and make better choices.

Tip #3: It’s All About Micro-Habits

Have you heard of micro-habits? They are tiny steps that don’t take much time and effort to get you moving forward. They are so small and easy to complete that you don’t find yourself making excuses to avoid them. But over time, these positive changes add up, and you find yourself with new behaviors.

For example, if you want to run a 5k but you haven’t run in years, start with a run around the block a few times a week. Often the hardest part of doing something is getting started, and that’s where micro-habits get you over that hurdle.

Tip #4: Revisit the Past

Take a minute to think about your past resolutions. Which of your resolutions has failed over the past few years? Take a little bit of time to think about why you experienced failure. Were your goals too vague? Did you try to do too much too soon?

On the flip side, where have you been successful? What goals have you achieved? Think about your accomplishments and what it took you to get there. You can use those methods for success in reaching future goals.

Tip #5: Try a Limited-Time Challenge

Rather than making a traditional resolution, try a limited-time challenge. Earlier this year, I did a 30-day yoga challenge. I loved it, and although I didn’t keep up with yoga every day after the challenge ended, I have continued to keep it in my routine. I’ve found yoga once or twice a week goes a long way to keeping me balanced, both emotionally and physically.

If you google 30-day challenge or 7-day challenge or whatever length you want, you’ll find many ideas. You can challenge yourself to healthy eating, strength training, walking, reading more, writing more, pushups, meditation, finding gratitude. The options are limitless.

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Jennifer covers lifestyle content and local news for the Chicago area. New articles published each weekday.

Chicago, IL
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