January 1st is the perfect time for new beginnings; it’s a fresh opportunity to take steps to make the coming year your best one yet.

Making New Year’s resolutions isn’t a new tradition – far from it! It dates back to 2000 B.C. to the ancient Babylonians, an agrarian society, who marked the new year as a time to repay debts and return borrowed farm equipment. The tradition of making resolutions continues on, although our present day promises to ourselves probably don’t include returning our neighbor’s lawnmower.

While we have every intention of keeping resolutions through the year, and maybe even for the rest of our lives (think improved diet, more exercise, less alcohol, finally quitting smoking), the reality is that many start off the year with unbridled enthusiasm, only to find out that making major life changes isn’t so easy to do.

So, what’s the best strategy for choosing the best resolution(s) for you so you can stick with them?

Start with Small Changes

Attainable goals inspire us to keep moving forward. Thinking about adding exercise into your weekly routine? Go for it. But, if you don’t exercise at all currently, then setting a goal of including one or two days of exercise per week is an attainable target. Starting out in high gear with a five-day running schedule may be a less realistic goal.

As they say, anything worth doing is worth doing well. If success is a key motivator for you, make choices you can manage. Start with easy-to-achieve steps and work your way from there.  

Same with dieting. Many people might benefit from following a healthier diet. If you’ve got a lot of weight to lose, you may want to focus on incremental goals rather than the ultimate number you want to see on the scale.

For example, setting a goal of losing five pounds to start is achievable. Once you’ve reached your goal, you can work on the next five pounds. Once the weight starts to come off, you will find yourself motivated to continue. Make an appointment to talk with your family doctor for help in setting up a healthy plan for you in 2024.

Most New Year’s resolutions focus on improving ourselves. Even small changes can make a big difference in how we feel, in our health and in our everyday lives.

Find a Buddy

Maybe you and your spouse can work together to strive to eat more healthfully, moving forward. Can you both agree not to bring junk into the house, cut down on red meat consumption, or add more fruits and veggies to your plate?

Everyone knows it’s more fun to exercise with a pal. Talk to a friend or partner about joining you on your new exercise journey.

Be Realistic…and Easy on Yourself

We’ve heard it all before…. eat better, exercise more, stop smoking, drink less alcohol. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and talk ourselves out of making lifestyle changes – before we even get started!

Over time, you may find that making that one change might lead to other positive changes. Feeling winded on the treadmill might be a reminder to cut down on cigarettes. Noticing positive changes to your body might be the motivation you need to choose a salad over chicken nuggets for lunch.

For a resolution to be successful, you have to set a goal and be motivated to stick with your new program. If it’s a resolution in name only, you won’t truly benefit from it. More likely, you’ll have forgotten about it in a short while.

Be realistic with your goals and you’ll be more likely to be successful!

Celebrate the Victories

…. and allow yourself some grace. Your goal isn’t perfection. By setting some attainable goals as New Year’s resolutions, you’re more likely to experience great success. Remember that two steps forward and one step back is still progress.

Resolutions don’t always involve our health and wellness. Other ideas for resolutions include setting aside more time to read, resolving to be better about staying in touch with family and friends, spending less and saving more. How about this? Make a resolution this year to make one change that will make a true difference in your life this year!