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It happens every year. You’re jazzed in January to get in shape, stop smoking, eat better to achieve your goal. But by February, your New Year’s resolution has gone out the window. Does that pattern sound familiar?

Patrick Somsen

Don’t throw in the towel just yet. You’ve got to stack the odds in your favor by starting with what intrinsically motivates and excites you. Start with small, easily repeatable actions that positively contribute to your 2023 outcome goal, and then gradually scale your way up as the small actions become routine habits.

Here are five tips from the American Psychological Association to help you do it:

  1. Start small. Make resolutions that you will be able to keep. If you’re starting a new fitness routine, find a cadence that is realistic for your schedule. Do you want to exercise more frequently? Put it on the calendar for three or four days a week instead of seven.
  1. Change one behavior at a time. Making health and fitness your resolution can be overwhelming. There are a lot of factors to tackle, from physical fitness to diet to sleep hygiene, so take it slow. It’s important to remember that we build unhealthy behaviors over time, so changing them takes time as well.
  1. Talk about it. Find like-minded people to share your experiences with. Consider taking a workout class at your gym or pairing up with a resolution buddy – somebody with the same or a similar goal. Change is easier if you don’t attempt it alone. And spread the news about your resolution. The more friends and family you tell, the more accountable you will feel.
  1. Don’t beat yourself up. So you skipped the gym a couple of times or overate on salty snacks one weekend. You slipped up, but so what? Missteps are normal. And one key to successful behavior change is resiliency. Tomorrow really is another day – it’s your chance to get back on track.
  1. Ask for support. You don’t have to do it on your own. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or are unsure of how to achieve your wellness goals, consider seeking professional help. Your health care provider will be able to offer strategies to help you make adjustments or connect you with additional resources.

Patrick Somsen is an Aspirus business health wellness specialist.