“Exercise more. Spend more time with family. Eat more vegetables. Quit smoking. Blah blah blah..”

Heard these before? There always seems to be a list of New Year’s Resolution examples, but where is the guide to help you actually keep them? Set yourself up for success! Use these tips to help you make your own personalized resolution instead of sticking to the typical ones. These will help you find the goal that is best for YOU!

The first step is making a resolution that is realistic.  You are more likely to stick to it. Saying that you will run a marathon when you are a beginner would be a long term goal that you can build up to. Set a short term goal by signing up for a 5k. You can aim to improve your running time and distance little by little each week.

Next, it is important to be specific in your goal. Make it measurable so you know when you achieve it. If you want to exercise more, make a goal to go to the gym 3 times a week for 30 minutes. Get even more specific, and decide which types of exercises you are going to improve when.

Find a friend that has a similar goal and encourage each other! This will increase your motivation, keep you accounable, and allow you to spend time with friends. Surrounding yourself with people that have similar goals helps set you up for success. For example, when I wanted to limit my ice cream intake to once a week, my friends and I would find something else to do like watch a tv show together or go for a walk.

Focus on only one or two goals to avoid feeling overwhelmed. It is better to do a few things very well than many things not so well. You can always add to your goals as the year goes on! Doing well this year will give you the confidence that you are more than capable of keeping a resolution year after year.

It is important to stay positive! No one is perfect, so if you slip up, get right back on track. Learn from the past to avoid the same mistakes. A good rule of thumb is to always plan ahead. This way you are prepared for the obstacles you may be faced with that could cause you to be tempted to break your resolution. For example, taking a meal and snacks with you on long days at work or school will keep you in control of your portion sizes and food choices.

Use positive reinforcement as a way to keep you motivated. I mean, who doesn’t like rewards?! For example, if you are achieving you goal of eating at least 5 servings of vegetables a day for the whole week, reward yourself with a modest portion of your favorite food one day.

Post your goal in a visible place to encourage and remind you of how important your resolution is. Posting your resolution will show others what you are doing, and can encourage your loved ones to support you. An example of this would be posting your goal on your refrigerator, closet door, or the back of the bathroom door. If you would rather have your resolution private, keep it in your agenda book or a bookmark for your journal so you will see it every day.

Don’t wait; start today! It is a New Year’s Resolution, so start at the beginning of the year and allow yourself time to achieve that goal. Remember, it is about progress, not rushing to make to the change in the first month of the new year. So allow yourself to have the most time possible, and start right away.

You picked a specific goal for a reason, and you can succeed with the right mind set. Sticking to a resolution is much easier with the support of others, but most importantly having confidence in yourself.

Follow this series of blogs to help you on your journey to choosing a new year’s resolution that works best for you. Each blog will focus on one “typical” resolution and will be transformed into a guide as to how to make that resolution personalized using these tips above.

We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year’s Day.

~Edith Lovejoy Pierce

Written by Jennifer Ryan, Peer Educator