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Tips for making and sticking to New Year’s resolutions

Advice to achieve personal goals, from accountability to picking the right resolution — no matter the time of year.

PORTLAND, Ore. — With the end of the year nearing, the pressure is on to make those New Year’s resolutions. But that pressure can be counterproductive to achieving goals. 

In this week's Healthier Together, Regence Wellness Consultant Allie Henderson offers advice on where to focus and how to stick to resolutions in the New Year.

“There’s nothing wrong with the resolution itself. I mean, it's great to be improving and working on growth and challenging ourselves, but I don't think we need to feel the pressure to set a goal just because it's January 1,” Henderson said. 

Every year the most common resolutions include: exercising more, eating healthier, and saving money. Those are all great goals, but that doesn’t mean it’s the right resolution for everyone.

Henderson suggests trying to find something important and interesting and build a goal around that. Perhaps, wanting to spend more quality time with family and friends, drink more water, or go to more concerts. 

"Maybe you've been hearing a lot about emotional well-being, and you want to get more emotionally intelligent. Maybe you just want to start learning about it and not even necessarily have a specific goal with it,” Henderson said. 

“Just things that you've thought about that are really interested in and that you're going to enjoy the process of doing. Those are the types of things you should focus on.” 

Identify your product and process

No matter what the resolution is, one must have to first identify their product and process, Henderson said. What’s the goal and how will be achieved in the long term? 

Take losing weight, for example: losing weight is the product, and exercise is part of the process and can be broken down into smaller steps.  

“Think what can I do for the month of January to start working on this? Maybe you don't go to the gym at all, so you're going to just start going to the gym a couple of days a week, and then in February, you're going to bump that up to four or five days. Then in March, you’re going to start to focus on a small aspect with nutrition,” Henderson said.  

Focus on positive goals

Think about a goal and what is adding, rather than what is taking away.

Often, when quitting something — making it off limits — that’s all the brain then wants to do.  

“Instead of focusing on taking something away, focus on what you can add,” Henderson said. “That just mentally puts us in a more positive mindset and is going to help us have a higher rate of success in achieving that goal.” 

For example, trying to cut back on sugar. Instead of focusing on quitting sugar, focus on what can replace it. Maybe that’s more fruits or new sugar-free snacks?

Trying to save money? Avoid triggers like the Amazon app and try not to focus on buying items. Instead, focus on an increase in credit score and savings.  

Failure is part of the process  

Slip ups happen and that’s okay. Expect some setbacks but don’t let that stop the journey.

“Failure is going to be a part of the process. There will be challenges and obstacles we have to face, and so expect that you will have some difficult times and so you want to be prepared,” Henderson said.  

Bumps in the road are expected. Focus on the why the show must go on instead.

“If you're wanting to quit smoking, just because you feel like you should, you know when you're really struggling and you want to go back to that cigarette, it's going to be really hard if you don't have a deep anchor to it,” Henderson said. 

“But if you want to quit smoking because you want to set a positive example for your children so that they don't get into that habit and that they can also see you taking on a hard challenge and working through that goal, you know that is what when you're really struggling, you can remember that, and that's going to help keep you going.”  


A big deterrent of success with goals is accountability, according to Henderson. So, share the goal with a friend, partner, or maybe a coworker.

“Maybe it's just purely telling them like, hey, this is my goal I want you to just regularly check in and ask how I'm doing with it,” she said.

Enlist a bit of technology to keep track. There’s an app out there for everything including fitness and healthy eating apps, apps to help with quitting smoking, and others to manage finances.  

The first step in setting a goal — whether it’s on January 1 or any time of the year — is to make a plan and start. 

“Find something you enjoy. A  goal should be a little bit challenging, but it should be enjoyable and rewarding and that's going to help you stick with it when you have those challenges when you do fail, you'll find ways to keep going,” Henderson said.  

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