December has officially arrived, and that means it’s time to start thinking about 2018 resolutions. The start of a new year is the perfect time to set some wellness goals and work on changing less-than-healthy habits. But resolutions have gotten something of a bad reputation lately. Many people set resolutions faithfully every year, but then fail to stick with them. In fact, some estimates have found that 92% of people fail at their resolutions.

That statistic might sound grim, but you can stick with your resolutions if you choose the right goals and plan appropriately. Follow these three tips to set achievable New Year’s health goals.

Be realistic

Goal setting is about reaching for your dreams, yet aiming too high often backfires. When people give up on their resolutions a month into the new year, it’s often because they set unattainable goals. Unachievable goals lead to frustration and burnout, instead of improvement.

Being honest with yourself is the key to choosing attainable goals. When you are realistic about where you currently are and what you can achieve, you are far more likely to stick with your resolutions than pushing yourself to the breaking point. For instance, if you’ve lived a sedentary lifestyle for years, you probably shouldn’t jump into spending an hour at the gym every day of the week—three to four half-hour sessions every week is more realistic way to make exercise part of your everyday life.

Think short-term as well as long-term

Not every New Year’s resolution has to be a lofty, distant goal. Many people set long-term resolutions for themselves, like “lose 50 pounds” or “run a marathon,” but forget to set short-term interim goals as well. Short-term goals provide extra motivation and a sense of progress along the journey. If you only have long-term goals, chances are, you’ll get discouraged and give up.

For instance, losing weight is one of the most common goals people set every year. And while maintaining a healthy weight is a great achievement to aim for, it’s also very vague. Short-term goals, like “lose 5 pounds in January,” can help you see and celebrate your improvements as you approach your ultimate goal.

Break each goal into small, achievable steps

Creating a road map is almost as important as having a goal. After all, it’s hard to reach any destination without a plan to get there. Taking the time to map out a course can make a significant difference between sticking with resolutions and abandoning them early in the year.

It’s smart to break down big goals and create a plan of attack even before the New Year starts. Any goal can be reduced to a series of small, actionable steps. For instance, if you want to eat healthier foods during the coming year, plan to spend a few days reading about nutrition, creating meal plans ahead of time, and learning to cook a new healthy meal every week. No matter how complicated a goal is, breaking it down into action steps will make it less overwhelming and more attainable.

 
The New Year is a fresh start, and there’s no better time than January to start making health a priority. No positive change is too small—even minor lifestyle tweaks can pay off to have more energy, better concentration, and improved mood. With the right goal setting skills and a healthy dose of planning, you can set—and achieve—resolutions that are realistic and fulfilling.