By Michelle Carbery, Corporate Wellness Specialist, Independent Health

Are you one of the millions of Americans who have made a New Year’s resolution for 2021? Maybe you are feeling the need to get back into the groove with your usual healthy habits. Or you have never really tried to make a change before, but you feel now is the time to take some positive steps toward good health.

If you look at statistics, the majority of people do not follow through on their New Year’s resolutions. However, don’t let these results discourage you! A lot of people have been successful in making lifestyle changes.

So, whether you want to eat healthier foods, be more active, stop smoking, or manage stress better, these tips may help you meet your goals:

  • Be reasonable and realistic. Try to change just one habit at a time. You are not likely to follow a plan that makes you miserable. Therefore, it’s important that you choose a goal that is really important to you, and that you feel is attainable.
  • Focus on changing behaviors rather than reaching numbers. Substituting fresh vegetables for chips as your evening snack is a reasonable and attainable goal. Getting to whatever number you have in mind for your goal weight may not be as easy. But sticking to your new eating behavior just might help you get there.
  • Be specific in your goals. For instance, don’t just say “I’m going to be more active this year.” Instead, write down a daily plan to include a 15-minute walk after dinner.
  • Keep those written goals and objectives visible. We get caught up in our daily lives and it’s easy to lose sight of our goals. Put them in a place where you will see them regularly as a reminder.
  • Share your goals with supportive people. Is there a “cheerleader” in your life who has always been there for you, encouraging you to keep going even when things get tough? Let that person know your plans for change.
  • Look for outside support. For example, if quitting smoking is your goal, you may want to call the New York State Quitline at 1-866-NY-QUITS (1-866-697-8487).
  • Take one day at a time. Don’t worry about whether you can keep up your new behavior all year. Try to do it just for today.
  • Stay positive. Our emotions play a big part in our ability to successfully make changes. When you find negative thoughts creeping into your mind, replace them with some positive affirmations such as “I accept myself just as I am right now” or “I’m getting healthier every day.”

Remember, change isn’t easy. Habits become ingrained in our lives, both the good and the bad. It takes time, perseverance and patience. If you have a setback, acknowledge it, learn from it, and start over again. You can do it!