woman making a New Year's resolution

Making New Year’s resolutions is a yearly tradition for many people. Yet, some of us fall short of reaching our goals.

Below are seven tips to help you make and stick to your New Year’s resolutions. By following these suggestions, UC Davis Health experts say you can set yourself up for success.

1. Be picky about your resolutions

We may want to lose weight, eat more vegetables, volunteer more, quit smoking and spend more time with family. But experts say that’s too many goals to set for a New Year’s resolution. Pick one, maybe two things you’d like to focus on and go all in. This sets you up to achieve specific goals instead of feeling like a failure for hitting none of them.

Related: Harnessing willpower to meet your goals

2. Plan your resolution

It’s best to plan for your goal. Think through how you want to accomplish your resolution and how long it might take to reach your goal. For example, if your resolution is to quit smoking, research how long it takes an average person to kick the habit and the possible setbacks to expect. Proper planning will help ensure you can see it through to the end.

Related: 10 financial New Year’s resolutions to set now and achieve in the new year

3. Set very specific goals

Many of us will set a New Year’s resolution like “exercise more.” But what does that really mean? Instead, you should be detailed in your resolution. It could be “exercise 30 minutes daily.” This gives you a measurable goal to reach each day that you can check off your list. It will help you feel more accomplished.

Related: Starting a New Year’s resolution? Dietitian gives you 5 SMART tips to healthy eating

4. Don’t take on too much

Start small. Avoid setting an overly high expectation of yourself. If you’d like to lose weight, pick a small but realistic weight loss goal. Maybe that’s 10 pounds in two months. Once you reach that goal, you can think about losing another 5-8 pounds. Setting small goals can help you achieve big results.

5. Choose a new resolution

Avoid picking a goal that you’ve tried in the past but failed. You may set yourself up to fall into the same pitfalls that stopped you previously. Instead, pick something different where you can set up a better path to success. Or maybe you can modify a previous goal if that’s something you still want to accomplish.

Related: Put sleep at the top of your New Year’s resolution lists

6. Identify accountability partners for support

Lean on people – whether it’s a friend to keep your exercise resolution on track, or a spouse to help with healthier eating habits. We function better with community around us, motivating and reminding us why we chose that New Year’s resolution in the first place.

7. Give your resolution time to become a habit

New routines don’t just become habit overnight. A 2009 study found that on average, it takes 66 days to form a new habit. Be patient with yourself. If you have minor setbacks or don’t hit your goal one week, pick it back up the next week. Just keep working at your goal and eventually it can become second nature.

Read more: Changing your habits

Related: Making New Year’s resolutions with your child

UC Davis Health classes to help you accomplish your New Year’s resolution

To help you keep your New Year’s resolution, UC Davis Health may have a class for you. We offer classes and support groups on a variety of topics, such as weight management, quitting tobacco, eating for health, and more.

Check out the full list of Health Education classes

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