The new year is here and many people are making their New Year’s resolutions, or a promise to themselves that they will make the coming year better. Some of the most common resolutions often pertain to health, whether to exercise more often, eat healthier, or get more sleep. While these goals are great to have, there are common pitfalls to New Year’s resolutions.

Many people tell themselves in the beginning of the year that they will change for the better, commit for the first few weeks of the year, then give up early on due to lack of time, resources, or motivation. Some of the common reasons people fail to fulfill their resolutions include:

  • Unrealistic resolutions – People either set extremely difficult goals to follow that become unreachable over time or relatively easy goals that they become bored with quickly.
  • Lack of accountability – People believe that they can accomplish their goals on their own but soon lack motivation or discipline to stick to their goals.
  • Lack of planning – People are excited to jump into working toward their goal without a clear plan and then quickly get lost or overwhelmed by the number of steps they need to take to reach their goal.
  • Self-doubt – It’s easy to be overly self-critical, especially when trying to follow a new goal for the entire year.
  • Trying to Do Too Much Too Fast – People make a laundry list of changes and start big, and then it becomes overwhelming, or it feels like it’s not attainable and/or sustainable.

These pitfalls that people may experience are common, but that does not mean they are unavoidable. No matter your resolution, you should approach it as a habit you want to keep for the foreseeable future. Some of the best ways to ensure you stick to your habits and fulfill your resolution include:

  • Set realistic goals – Try setting goals for yourself that aren’t too easy to attain yet still achievable. For example, if you only exercise a couple of times per month and want to increase how often you exercise, start by exercising at least once a week and then move up from there.
  • Get a partner – Depending on your goal, there is likely a professional who will help you stay on track, or a friend or loved one who will keep you motivated and ensure you make progress.
  • Plan in advance – Set up mini goals to help you get to the main goal by breaking those steps into smaller ones so you can make a little bit of measurable progress every day. Don’t forget to be kind to yourself and praise and positively reward yourself when you hit these mini goals.
  • Believe in yourself – While simple, understanding that you can accomplish your goals is often the first step in success. Speak kindly to yourself and celebrate actions that move you closer toward success.

Goals are an amazing thing to have, especially when they are about bettering yourself. For health-related resolutions, your primary care physician is an excellent resource to guide you in the right direction based on your lifestyle and medical needs.