Happy New Year!

The new year is wide open and waiting for you to make it the best one yet. Are you ready? 

If that sentence felt like a lot of pressure all at once, we totally understand. January typically comes with a lot of somewhat unreasonable expectations, even for those of us who are old pros at setting resolutions and making them happen. There’s something about a full 365 days that can feel a little overwhelming, but if you set more thoughtful resolutions and intentions, you’ll see the new year as invigorating, not intimidating.

Step 1: Make a list. 

Before you go making a grand proclamation about exercising every day, becoming a pro guitarist or saving up for a brand new car, sit down and think of five things you could reasonably accomplish in the scope of a year.

Step 2: Think about your day-to-day life.

If the odds (AKA your schedule) are working against you, it will be pretty difficult to make your goals happen. Take into consideration a typical day in your life; how much time do you have to practice a new hobby, to hit the gym or to do more traveling? Be realistic about what your day-to-day life is actually like and set your goals accordingly.

Step 3: Don’t overwhelm yourself.

Our best advice when coming up with a list of realistic New Year’s resolutions is to think simple — small changes you can make on a regular basis that soon become a habit. For example, if one of your goals is to exercise more, consider creating a sub-goal to make this feel more actionable. “I will exercise 15 minutes per day” or “I will drink 1 more glass of water than normal” feels much easier to achieve than “I will exercise an hour a day” or “I will drink 64 ounces of water a day.” Once you’ve made the habit stick, then you can up the intensity!

Step 4: Ask for help.

Setting goals and making life changes doesn’t happen overnight, and it doesn’t happen without support from your friends and loved ones. If your resolution is to eat healthier, get the family involved and try new foods together. If it’s a fitness-related goal, ask your partner or your best friend to join you for motivation. When you’re feeling stuck or discouraged on your path, reach out to a trusted friend or family member for advice and inspiration. They want to see you succeed, so they’ll be there to cheer you on.

Step 5: Track your progress.

If you’re setting a big, potentially life-changing goal, track your progress not only to stay on track, but to look back and see how far you’ve come. Maybe your goal is to start running regularly. At the beginning, you can only run for two minutes at a time. Write that down, and update your log as you improve. Once you’re running for 30 minutes straight, revisit your first weeks with pride.

Step 6: Treat yourself!

Once you hit a milestone on your journey, celebrate it! Buy some new workout clothes, go shopping at your favorite store and buy something silly and fun, have a spa day, take yourself on a date. You’re doing an amazing job sticking to your goals, so reward yourself for all that hard work and get back to it tomorrow.