8 Tips for Making and Keeping Healthy New Year's Resolutions
Medical Author: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Medical Editor: William C. Shiel, Jr, MD, FACP, FACR
If you are the type of person who makes but never keeps New Year's
resolutions, these suggestions can help you make healthy -- and attainable -- goals
- Don't abandon the idea of setting resolutions because you have
broken them in the past. You may need to simply readjust the type and number of
goals you're setting for yourself.
- Do be realistic. A
resolution to run a marathon by year's end is likely unrealistic for an
inexperienced exerciser. Likewise, resolving to stop all your unhealthy habits at once is likely to fail.
Pick a safe, attainable goal with a realistic time frame. For example, if your
resolution is to eat healthier, begin by eliminating one unhealthy food from
your diet at a time, not all unhealthy foods.
- Don't make too many
resolutions. There's no rule that you have to cover all areas you'd like to
change in your resolutions. Pick one or two themes -- such as anger management,
stress control, healthy eating, smoking cessation, fitness improvement, career
advancement -- that are most important to you, and set reachable goals within
- Don't set resolutions whose success is based upon factors beyond
your control. Saying "I resolve to have a new job by summer" depends not only
upon your own initiative but also upon external factors (the economy, the job
market in your field) over which you have no control. Instead tell yourself, "I
resolve to have updated my résumé and sent it out to X companies by summer."
That way, the success of your resolution is entirely within your control.
- Do set resolutions based upon your own wishes, desires, goals, and
dreams and not those of society or
those persons close to you. While this seems obvious, many people waste time
trying to meet society's, or another person's, expectations. A resolution is
bound to fail if it isn't from your heart.
- Do plan
intermediate goals if it helps you maintain control. Decide where you'd like to be in three or
six months, and check yourself then. Achieving these smaller goals also gives
you a sense of accomplishment and motivation for the bigger
- Do use the buddy system. Rely on your friends to support you in
your resolutions, and do the same for your friends. Social support can be a
great strengthener of motivation.
- Do plan a reward for yourself when the
resolutions, or intermediate goals, are met.
REFERENCE:Last Editorial Review: 1/20/2012
Stöppler, Melissa Conrad. "Stress Management." MedicineNet.com. Aug. 24, 2011. <http://www.medicinenet.com/stress_management_techniques/article.htm>.