How to make your New Year’s resolution stick.

Every year, about 60% of us make a New Year’s resolution, and about half of resolution-makers say they want to eat healthier, exercise more or lose weight. Yet when it comes to actually sticking with what we set out to do on January 1, only 8% of us are successful.

Let’s take a look at some science-backed strategies to help you stick to your New Year’s resolution this year.

Strategy #1: Make it fun.

It sounds simple, but many people often approach their New Year’s resolution as a negative task that must be completed, and after a few weeks it can feel like a form of punishment. Too strict of a plan will turn fun to frustration, so keep it simple and fun.

“Research has shown that when you incorporate positive external factors into a goal or task, it results in better outcomes,” said one of Penn Highlands Healthcare’s Registered Dietitians, Deloris Gibson, RDN, CDCES.

If you’re resolving to work out more often, seek out things that sound fun. Try a new exercise class. Join a running club. Find a list of the best hikes in your area. Invite a friend to join you. Whatever it is, make it something you look forward to rather than something you dread.

Strategy #2: Break it down into steps.

Running a marathon in 2022 or losing some weight can be a great New Year’s resolution, but it can seem too big or too abstract to sufficiently motivate yourself to stick with it. You’re more likely to complete a task by giving yourself specific instructions and discreet tasks.

“Studies have long shown that one of the best motivational tactics in achieving a long-term goal is to break it down into steps,” said Gibson.

Setting progressive goals of running one mile, then five miles, then 10 is better, but try breaking it down even further. By planning to run a specific route at a specific pace on a specific day, you have all the information you need to get started.

Instead of setting a broad goal like I am going to lose some weight or I will join a gym, it may be more beneficial to say I will not eat potato chips, French fries, or ice cream for 6 weeks or I will lift weights on every Tuesday and Thursday instead.

Strategy #3: Slip ups happen. That’s ok.

Slips ups will happen, that is to be expected. Lifestyle change is a long process and there will be bumps in the road. How you handle those slip ups will be important. Keeping a positive attitude and not defining your actions as good or bad, while building small changes into your routine and having a plan for the slip ups will be a key to success. Often people will react to a slip up with negative self-talk, mentally beating one’s self up, can lead to losing control, and even just giving up and abandoning your goal all together.

Staying positive with a focus on small lifestyle changes and taking time to celebrate each small success along the way can be key to your success and allow you to be one of the 8% who succeed at your goal over the long run.

“Failure is a very powerful deterrent,” said Gibson, “By staying positive, and being kind to yourself, by identifying you are not perfect and having a plan that allows for the real life bumps in the road, you’ll have much better success.”

Penn Highlands Healthcare provides nutrition therapy to people of all ages and to those who need general medical nutrition therapy. For more information, visit

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