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Realistic Resolutions: How to Set Realistic Health Goals for the New Year

Hundreds of millions of Americans make New Year's resolutions each year, with health and wellness improvements being top goals on the list. From learning how to start running to practicing meditation, prioritizing mental and physical well-being is more popular than ever—but just 10% of people actually follow through on their promises. 

Luckily, there’s a way to beat this statistic, and it only takes a few simple steps. Here’s how you can set yourself up for success and make realistic New Year's resolutions you’re sure to stick to. Plus, we share healthy New Year's resolution ideas. Read on! 

How to Keep New Year's Resolutions 

1. Don’t Overload.  

It isn’t unusual to stack up on the changes you want to make in the coming year. But if you aren’t careful, your list could become a daunting pile of chores. Instead of choosing a bunch of small goals, pick three or four bigger ones and break them down into attainable steps. By taking baby steps, you’re more likely to achieve larger objectives, and it’s easier to get back on track if you fall behind.  

2. Write Your Resolutions Down.  

Writing something down and posting it in a place you often see (your fridge, your desk at work, or even your mirror) will give you a greater sense of accountability. Every time you see your list of resolutions, you’ll be reminded of the changes you’re trying to make. It’s also a good idea to start a resolution journal or notebook to record progress and struggles.  

3. Treat Yourself.  

When you reach a goal—no matter how big or small—and treat yourself, your brain releases dopamine. This encourages your brain to seek validation, which drives you to work toward your next goal.  

Your rewards could be small, like buying a new, trendy novel after you’ve finished a book that’s been on your nightstand for months. But you can also include bigger rewards for more impressive milestones, like buying a nice pair of running shoes after you complete your first 5K. 

Need some reading inspiration? Check out these classic books to read--or reread--right now. 

4. Seek Accountability.  

Tell your family or your group chat about your goals and invite them to do the same. Check-in with each other and offer support when you’re having trouble sticking to resolutions. Asking someone to hold you accountable makes it harder to back out of a goal and keeps you motivated.  

5. Utilize Technology.  

There really is an app for everything. If you’re concentrating on your mental health, download an app to track your moods, help with meditation, and form new habits. If fitness is on your list, use a running tracker to chart your progress and pair it with a playlist at the same tempo as your speed. 

There are plenty of social media groups for accountability, advice, or humble brags, too. Chatting with people who are working towards the same thing gives you somewhere to go for ideas on staying motivated and avoiding obstacles. Leveraging technology can make goals a little more approachable and fun.  

Technology offers a range of apps that can help us lead healthier, more balanced lives. Check out our favorite apps for staying healthy

6. Give Yourself Grace.  

You’re only human, and setbacks are part of the human experience. It’s up to you to decide if you want to feel guilty after slipping or get up and try again.  

If you’re afraid setbacks will discourage you from trying, write a plan with steps to stay on course. Do this for each goal but try not to punish yourself for making a mistake. Never let errors derail you—remember why you started and focus on progress, not perfection. You’ve got this!

grocery bag with colorful produce spilling out 

Healthy New Year's Resolution Ideas

Ready to choose your healthy resolutions? Here are a few attainable goals to consider:

  • Cook more, eat takeout less. Meal prepping, food subscription boxes, and limiting yourself to only getting takeout on the weekends are great ways to keep this resolution.
  • Improve your quality of sleep. Decrease your screen time before bed, go to sleep at a reasonable hour, or eliminate unnecessary light pollution in your room. You'll wake up feeling rested and ready for the day.
  • Add produce to your diet. Putting veggies in your morning omelet, topping your oatmeal with berries, and ordering a salad instead of fries makes a difference. 
  • Keep in touch with loved ones. Aim to call a new person every week. Your friends and family probably miss you as much as you miss them.
  • Take a vacation. Giving yourself a change of scenery will help you feel recharged and reinspired.
  • Drink enough water. Keep a reusable water bottle on hand while you're working and sip away. 
  • Limit screen time, especially on social media. Social media can be mentally and emotionally draining. Replace your scrolling time with something that makes you feel better, like reading or journaling. 
  • Visit the doctor. It's common for doctor's appointments to fall to the back burner. Make your appointments for the year in January and add them to your calendar.
  • Spend at least ten minutes a day outside. Eat your lunch outside, go on a walk when you get home, or take your kids to the park.
  • Get your steps in. Using the stairs, parking further away, or walking your dog an extra block will make an impact over the course of a year. 

Your Roadmap to Reaching Your Goals 

In a world where New Year's resolutions often falter, mastering the art of setting achievable targets is your roadmap to success. Set a few meaningful intentions, write them down, and share them with an accountability partner so you can stick to these New Year’s resolutions. Reward yourself for progress, leverage technology for goal tracking, and be kind to yourself when facing setbacks. Remember, it's all about progress over perfection in your journey of self-improvement.

To take your year to the next level, try these relaxation techniques to set daily intentions and conquer the day stress-free!