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Struggling to keep on top of those New Year’s resolutions? Aren’t we all. These tips should help keep you on track if you set the bar too high.

1. Set attainable resolutions

1. Set attainable resolutions
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The first step to achieving your resolution is to set a goal you can actually reach.

While a lot of people who make New Year’s resolutions generally find them hard to keep, those who are successful make reasonable ones,” says Deborah Serani, PsyD, author of Depression in Later Life.

“Unrealistic resolutions set you up for failure.”

For example, instead of vowing to get supermodel skinny, set a plan to help you get to a healthier weight.

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2. Change one thing at a time

2. Change one thing at a time
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Once you start reassessing your life, you’ll probably get overwhelmed thinking about all the ways you think you should change.

“Cutting too many things at once may backfire,” says Frank Lipman, MD, bestselling author and founder of Be Well and the Eleven Eleven Wellness Centre in New York City.

Instead, slow down, and pick one thing to focus on first.

“Aiming for one change at a time is what brings the gold,” Dr. Serani says.

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3. Be specific about your goal

3. Be specific about your goal
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One of the sneaky ways you’re sabotaging your own New Year’s resolutions is by being too general.

“So, once you’ve set your goal of, let’s say, losing weight, be specific,” Dr. Serani says.

“How are you going to lose the weight? You could say, ‘I’m going to join a gym and get into shape,’ but it would be better to say, ‘I’ll get to the gym two times a week.’”

She advises setting goals that are SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound) to help you stick to your plan.

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Struggling to keep on top of those New Year’s resolutions? Aren’t we all. These tips should help keep you on track if you set the bar too high.

4. Find your starting point

4. Find your starting point
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How can you set the foundation for the plan to accomplish your goal?

If your resolution is to “eat healthier,” you first need to understand the root of your bad eating habits.

Find your baseline as a starting point, says Erin Palinski-Wade, RD, CDE, author of Belly Fat Diet For Dummies.

“Write down what you eat and track your eating habits for three days, then look at them and evaluate them honestly.”

You’ll be able to see a pattern (for example, late-night snacking or eating out for lunch) and then identify places to improve.

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5. Break resolutions into smaller steps

5. Break resolutions into smaller steps
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Once you have your goal in mind, try breaking it down into steps; focusing on each sub-goal can help you organise your plan for achieving the bigger task.

“By creating ‘micro goals’ every day, you will get the ‘ding ding ding’ feeling of dopamine and keep charging on to accomplish your long-term ‘macro’ goal,” says Christopher Bergland, endurance athlete and coach, in Psychology Today.

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6. Change gradually

6. Change gradually
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Breaking down goals is also part of a strategy for gradual change, which is much easier to adapt to than a radical shift.

“Pinpoint just one or two small improvements you can make, such as adding in more veggies at lunch or by turning off the TV when you eat dinner [for a resolution to eat better],” Palinski-Wade says.

“After you adjust to that small change, identify another small area to work on and keep building from there.”

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Struggling to keep on top of those New Year’s resolutions? Aren’t we all. These tips should help keep you on track if you set the bar too high.

7. Track your progress

7. Track your progress
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Studies show that recording your progress can increase your success.

It can be as simple as writing down your goal for the day and then checking it off once you’ve done it.

“Tracking your progress is very helpful for behavioural change,” Dr. Serani says.

If you’re trying to lose weight, stop smoking or save more money, the numbers will show how you’re doing.

The more weight you lose, the harder your body fights to hold on to the calories it gets and the fewer calories it burns.

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8. Measure unmeasurable goals

8. Measure unmeasurable goals
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Some resolutions can be more difficult to check off on a list.

“There are other behaviours, like maybe you want to be kinder or more patient, that are harder to quantify and more tricky to keep track of,” Dr. Serani says.

Be creative in how you measure your progress.

For example, if your resolution is to re-energise your marriage, schedule a weekly date night and check it off afterward.

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9. Make and celebrate “easy” accomplishments

9. Make and celebrate “easy” accomplishments
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Set yourself up for success by making your first small goal one you know you can achieve.

“Focus on changes that are so small they seem easy, like walking for five minutes on your lunch break,” Palinski-Wade says.

Guaranteeing you’ll accomplish something will give you the boost of confidence you need to continue.

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Struggling to keep on top of those New Year’s resolutions? Aren’t we all. These tips should help keep you on track if you set the bar too high.

10. Cheer on each victory

10. Cheer on each victory
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As you achieve each small success, give yourself a pat on the back.

“Tell yourself something positive, like ‘I did this first part!’ or ‘This feels good,’” Dr. Serani says.

“Short-term reinforcement is vital to keeping newly learned behaviors from slipping out of your control.”

Plus, cheering on your little victories will help keep you on course more than waiting for some big payoff months away.

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