With the start of the new year comes another tradition, New Year’s Resolutions. However, fewer than 10 percent stick to them for more than a few months.

We all have New Year’s resolutions, even if we don’t always stick to them. So, why do we as a society continue to come up short?

Resolutions are often lifestyle changes that try to change behavior that has become habitual. The most common goals reflect this:

  • Losing weight
  • Exercising more
  • Quitting smoking
  • Saving money

While it’s admirable to set an ambitious goal, beware of setting goals that are too numerous or unrealistic. Finding a balance between confidence and overconfidence is key. Don’t fall victim to false hope syndrome, characterized by unrealistic expectation about the likely speed, amount, ease and consequence of behavioral changes.

But things aren’t hopeless! The American Psychological Association has some tips for those looking to break the cycle and achieve their New Year’s Resolution.

Be realistic. Want to work out more? Start by scheduling a few days at the gym — three to four days rather than seven to start with. Want to eat healthier? Try replacing dessert with something a little better, while increasing the days you do so each week.

Do one thing at a time. Don’t make a ton of resolutions at once. Go one by one, it’s much more manageable and achievable.

Be kind to yourself. No lifestyle change is easy, so relapses are likely to happen, and that’s okay. Ups and downs happen, what matters is staying committed and trying again.

Talk about it. Letting others know what you’re trying to accomplish can keep you accountable and help with maintaining resilience. Getting some help from a licensed professional, such as a behavioral psychologist is also a possible option.

What are your New Year’s resolutions? Have a plan for how to achieve them? Let us know in the comments below!

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