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How to Set and Achieve Realistic New Year's Resolutions

Reviewed by: Dr. Steven Knauf, D.C.

By Martha Michael

Realistic New Year's Resolutions

Not everyone creates a literal, hang-it-on-your-wall list of New Year’s resolutions, but it’s difficult to ignore the desire for a new start when the calendar returns to January 1. Whether it’s just a few ideas in your head or a poster with a flow chart of sticky notes, it’s almost always a good idea to consider your goals at the beginning of the year. Include some steps to improve your health and wellness and the benefits can last a lifetime.

How to Achieve Goals

If you’re a person who loves the “idea phase” of a project, you’ve probably experienced that March or April letdown from a lack of follow-through. Even the most carefree, creative type rarely sets goals without wanting to see them realized. If you tend to be disappointed by feelings of failure, it may be that you haven’t learned how to set realistic New Year’s resolutions.

An article on outlines some ways you can improve the odds you’ll make it to the finish line when you set goals.

Write It Down

The idea for a goal begins in your imagination but becomes real when you turn it into a statement of intent. By putting it in print, your subconscious is encouraged to accept the commitment, which helps you get closer to your target. People who are serious about goal-setting rewrite it daily.

Set a Deadline

It’s easy to just throw out an idea and hope you get around to it. When you set a date for completion it’s more likely you’ll make your New Year’s resolutions stick. If it feels too overwhelming, break down large, complex goals into small steps that are easier to execute. Set deadlines for these milestones.

Shift Your Mindset

Before you begin the process, work on preparing your mindset with a winning attitude. If you approach your goals with skepticism, it will be harder to accomplish them. It may help to read inspirational quotes, poetry, or guidebooks.

Develop a Skill Set

If you’re trying something new, you may have to develop new abilities to make reaching your goal more attainable. Action plans involving new hobbies or career changes are examples of goals that have better odds if you grow your skill set.

Take Steps

When you devise a plan with detailed steps and a timeline, it’s easier to track your progress. The first step can be the hardest, and if you’re a procrastinator, you may need to move forward before you feel like everything’s perfect. Decide how many days a week you check in to see if you can advance to the next step.

Complete the Goal

You’ll probably encounter obstacles when reaching for the goal line. If you keep the final step in focus, you can maintain the level of enthusiasm you need to push through to completion.

Reward Yourself

Goal-setting and achievement is a reward in itself, but it sweetens the pot when you add value with a payoff. The positive reinforcement of rewarding yourself gives you satisfaction and can motivate you when tackling your next set of goals.

The Importance of Putting Health and Wellness on Your Resolution List

From writing your memoirs to making travel plans, resolutions come in all shapes and sizes. Some add to your bank account while others are bucket list items. Drafting new fitness goals and pledging to eat healthier are among the most popular choices for New Year’s resolutions, and they can offer long-term benefits if you stick with them.

How Important Should Fitness Be in My Approach to the New Year?

Setting goals to improve yourself physically can serve you in a variety of ways, from building strength to increasing stamina. If your goal is weight loss, you could consult a dietitian and line up a personal trainer to consider making mealtime changes and focus on fitness.

Nearly everyone can identify something they’d like to change -- the way they look, feel, or function. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, getting regular exercise is one of the best health choices you can make.

In addition to muscle strength and cardiac benefits, vigorous exercise contributes to brain health. It boosts cognition for children ages 6 to 13 and reduces anxiety in adults. Research shows it boosts your ability to learn and improves your decision-making skills. As you age, regular fitness can also reduce the risk of developing anxiety disorders and depression.

It’s easier to lose weight and maintain it when you have a routine that includes exercise. While it varies from person to person, you should ideally work your way up to 150 minutes a week of moderate exercise.

How Can Chiropractic Help Me in My Quest for Good Fitness?

When you put health and wellness on your resolution list, you should reach out to a chiropractor to get started. With an initial consultation, they can help you create a personalized diet and fitness plan that’s balanced and sustainable. A routine that includes chiropractic care can improve your performance and help prevent injury when you ramp up your workout program.

Manual therapies that maximize your range of motion give you an advantage if your new regimen involves sports such as kickboxing, basketball, or even pickleball. For seniors it may mean the difference between weaving a yoga practice into their weekly schedule or spending their time in sedentary positions.

Chiropractic treatment is a good way to prepare you when setting a goal that pushes you to the limit physically, but it’s also effective in managing pain. By regulating your nervous system, a chiropractor can address such issues as muscle tension, inflammation, and joint dysfunction.

How to Be Flexible When Life Gets in the Way of Your Goals

Your personality, in part, determines how you react when your plans are thwarted. Some people are naturally flexible while others prefer the stability of making firm plans. Mental health professionals sometimes use the five-factor model to identify personality traits, says an article in Psychology Today. Each continuum has a scale and where a person’s rating lands is a reflection of how they think and behave. Two categories relate to flexibility.

If you’re high in “openness to experiences,” you tend to:

  • Be imaginative
  • Be creative
  • Have a wide range of interests
  • Love learning

If you’re high in “agreeableness,” you tend to be:

  • Altruistic
  • Kind to others
  • Empathetic
  • Helpful
  • Trustworthy

Some of these qualities make it easier for people to handle change. Being willing to make adjustments to your pre-planned trajectory leads to accomplishing your goals and it can also contribute to your well-being.

An article by Wellbeing People says you can be committed to your goals and still remain flexible.. One strategy is to adjust your definition of success; the aim is progress, not perfection.

Set your sights on an attainable goal but be aware that circumstances change; this is so it doesn’t surprise you when your target seems to move. You can set a more realistic goal if you downsize it. By setting micro-goals, you’ll find it easier to recalibrate when situations arise that affect your plans.

“Don’t look for the big, quick improvement,” iconic UCLA basketball coach John Wooden said. “Seek the small improvement one day at a time. That’s the only way it happens, and when it happens, it lasts.”

Whether you have big plans or prefer setting smaller goals, the new year can mean a new start. Whether your goal is to find your inner artist or have a year with more date nights, including healthy habits on your list of resolutions will provide benefits that last. You can turn the page on the idea phase by putting it into action, which is where the magic of change actually happens.

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