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Natural Awakenings Philadelphia

Making New Year’s Resolutions Stick

by Hank Finkel

According to a study conducted by the University of Scranton, just 8 percent of people achieve their New Year's goals, while around 80 percent fail to keep them, says clinical psychologist Joseph Luciani. Change is hard, especially if the change involves breaking habits and addictions. Without forethought, a poorly crafted New Year’s resolution can not only be setup for failure, but may actually lead to increased stress and anxiety.

Here are some simple tips to increasing the odds of making lasting positive behavioral changes. Keep in mind that the new year isn’t meant to serve as a catalyst for sweeping character changes. What it can be is the start of a spiraling and expanding set of positive thoughts and actions that over time, become ingrained traits and habits.

Start by setting small, attainable goals instead of a singular, overwhelming goal on January 1.

Keep it simple, specific and attainable. Managing expectations is key. If we have let our heath go for years, it is unrealistic to expect to get healthy in a matter of weeks. Keep goals and time frames attainable.

Take baby Steps

Sure, we may want to lose upwards of 50 pounds, not smoke two packs a day or meditate an hour a day. But start small, resolve to lose the first 10 pounds, cut smoking to a pack a day or meditate for five minutes daily—and then expand from there.

Change one behavior at a time

Unhealthy behaviors develop over the course of time, so replacing them with healthy ones requires time. Don’t get overwhelmed and think that we have to reassess every aspect of our life. Instead, work toward changing one thing at a time. It is probably not realistic to expect to stop smoking, change our diet and begin working out on New Year’s Day. By making our resolutions realistic, there is a greater chance that we will keep them throughout the year, incorporating healthy behavior into our everyday life. More realistic goals may be a resolution to lose 10 pounds or quit smoking or get eight hours of sleep each night—but not all at once, starting the first of January. You can always expand our resolutions once we’ve developed some discipline.

Talk about it

We can share our experiences with family and friends or consider joining a support group, such as a workout class at the gym or a group of coworkers quitting smoking, to help reach our goals. Having someone to share our struggles and successes with and keep us accountable makes keeping our journey to a healthier lifestyle that much easier and more fun.

Don’t be too hard on ourselves

Be prepared for hiccups along the way. Perfection is unattainable. Remember that minor setbacks when striving towards our goals are completely normal. Don’t get sidetracked or discouraged and give up completely because we ate a brownie and broke our diet or skipped the gym for a week because we were busy. Everyone has ups and downs; resolve to recover from those mistakes and get back on track ASAP.

Reassess and Rededicate

Each week, assess how we are doing—maybe journal about our progress or use a self-assessment tool like a one-to-10 scale of how we are doing. After a month assess our overall progress. At that point, we can expand the goals or rededicate to the initial goals. It may be that those initial goals were too ambitious and need to be reset.

Use the experience to make positive changes. Don’t allow the process to become a source of additional stress. Self-growth and development are important at any age, and we should congratulate ourself for the attempt, no matter the outcome.

Dr. Hank Finkel is the owner of Advanced Chiropractic Services, located at 4245 Pechin St., in Philadelphia. For appointments, call 215 483-3661. For more information, email [email protected] or visit

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