Every year, we make a New Year’s resolution. We want to start working out more. We want to lose weight. We want to eat healthier. A lot of resolutions have to do with getting healthier or making/saving more money. These are obviously worthwhile goals, but, the fact is that keeping your resolutions is really hard. In fact, 80 percent of resolutions are broken by February! We think we can do better this year, and to prove this belief, we’re going to share the secrets to sticking to your New Year’s resolutions this year.

The process is similar to quitting a bad habit, since that’s essentially what you’re doing. You’re replacing bad habits with good ones. By exercising more, you’re quitting the bad habit of laying around too much. By eating healthier, you’re quitting the bad habit of snacking on junk food. With that in mind, here’s how to turn your resolutions into healthy habits you’ll keep for the whole year.

Keep It SMART

We’ve previously mentioned SMART goals, but to help you achieve your New Year’s resolutions, we’re going to delve a bit deeper into why it’s important to be SMART. SMART goals are simple guidelines of the traits that all good goals should have. They should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. The strength of SMART goals is that they define how you’ll achieve your goal and why you want to pick it.

SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound.

An example of an un-SMART goal would be “I want to be healthier this year.” It’s not specific and there’s no way to measure success, which may not make it attainable or time-bound. Instead, let’s say you want to run the local marathon this year. That may be a fantastic pick, because it’s specific and measurable. It’s also relevant — since you’re interested in running the marathon — and time-bound — since you want to do it within the year. The only concern is that it may not be attainable, since it can take time to train for a marathon. By going through this process, you outline how you’d prepare and find that a half-marathon is more attainable. And there you have it!

So, instead of saying “I want to lose weight this year,” say, “I want to lose 15 pounds before summer.” Now you’re being SMART!

Set a Plan and Be Consistent

Once you’ve defined a SMART goal for a resolution, it’ll help to create a plan on how to achieve that aim. This plan is your roadmap to your resolution and turns a specific, but long-term target into realistic, but incremental steps. For example, if your goal is to lose 15 pounds this year, drawing up a weight-loss plan lays out different ways you can succeed and gives you something to fall back on. In this case, a weight-loss plan would include a workout routine and a healthier diet, but it doesn’t even need to be that established. A plan can be as simplified as “I want to lose 15 pounds by jogging two miles three days a week and by counting calories each day.”

For example, if your goal is to lose 15 pounds this year, drawing up a weight-loss plan lays out different ways you can succeed and gives you something to fall back on.

The trick to taking your plan and turning it into a good habit for the long term is to be consistent with it. Something becomes a habit by doing it often enough that it becomes second nature. In the example above, the person looking to lose weight was exercising three days a week and monitoring calories every day. If you do this for a little while — one study estimates around 66 days — you’ll have succeeded in your New Year’s resolution, because the healthy activities will have become habit and you’ll be less likely to stop.

Share Your Goal

Similar to quitting a bad habit, an effective way to achieve your New Year’s resolution is to share your goal with friends and family. There have been many studies that show the influence friends and families have in goal success.

There have been many studies that show the influence friends and families have in goal success.

This is especially true if your friends can join you in your goal. If you want to work out more, having a workout buddy makes it more fun and you more likely to continue working out. Friends and family can also create a support network that can give advice and hold you accountable.

Don’t Beat Yourself Up

Finally, if you miss a day of working out or start snacking a bit, don’t give up on your goal. Just because you slipped up once doesn’t mean it’s all over. A broken resolution isn’t a failed one until you quit. As long as you keep working toward your final goal, you can still achieve it. Far too often, people will crack and have a candy bar and give up on their New Year’s resolution.

A broken resolution isn’t a failed one until you quit. As long as you keep working toward your final goal, you can still achieve it.

One of the biggest reasons people fail on their resolutions is because they lose belief that they can succeed and simply give up after one slip. While you should hold yourself accountable, stick to your goal. Remember, even if you miss your goal and only lose 10 pounds, you’ve still lost 10 pounds!

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Each year, thousands of Americans make a promise to themselves to improve in the coming year. Unfortunately, many of us give up or simply forget our resolutions days after making them. If you’re looking to ring the new year in right and keep your resolution this year, be SMART, be consistent, and be patient, and you’ll give yourself all the advantages you need!