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Want to Achieve Big New Year's Resolutions? Start Small

The beginning of the new year is a natural starting point. Time to start over! Time to get it right! So we load the top of the annual calendar with perennial hopes for all the things in our lives that we want to change…yet we don’t do much to increase our chances of actually making our resolutions stick.

Every year, Americans’ favorite New Year’s resolutions include getting healthy, losing weight, exercising, and enjoying life to the fullest. According to Statistic Brain, about 62% of us make resolutions, at least sometimes, but ultimately just 8% of us actually achieve our goals—often because we reach for the big idea with an all-or-nothing mindset that demands impossible perfection.

Make a Better Resolution
With a little strategic thinking, you can make New Year’s resolutions that really work. 

  1. Think small & specific. Research has shown that breaking your goal down into smaller, concrete steps will increase your chances of reaching it. Write those steps down, and use them as your ladder to success.
  2. Believe you can change. Change is hard, but you’ve got an automatic ally if you change your mind first. Believing that you can make a change, then actually doing it, builds your trust in yourself; in turn, that trust strengthens you for the next step. Then, reward yourself for completing each step. Nothing succeeds like success!
  3. Focus on what you’re adding. For example, if you’re trying to eat healthier, don’t worry about what you can’t have. Focus on what you need to add to your diet—like more veggies or more nutrients—as a way to help keep your changes fail-proof.
  4. Make the change routine. Instead of thinking of each step of your resolution as an add-on when your day’s already too full, fold it into your routine. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, for example, or leave your car further out in the parking lot. Soon the new action will become a habit. “We look for one single practice as the answer, instead of recognizing that well-being is shaped by the habitual mindsets and behaviors that uplift us,” says Margaret L. “Peggy” Kern, PhD, of the Center for Positive Psychology at the University of Melbourne’s Graduate School of Education.
  5. Expect to drop the ball once in awhile. It’s going to happen. You’re human. But it’s just a setback, not a failure. Start again the next minute, hour, day—and keep your eye on the overall positive trajectory.

Our Resolutions
Here are some healthy resolutions that we’re working for on ourselves:

  1. Prioritize your sleep. Don’t sacrifice it, sleep is 36% of your health! Try some of these practical sleep tips.
  2. Reclaim your energy. Where does energy come from (and how do you get more)? Try these simple tips for energizing.
  3. Get outside in Nature. Science shows how Nature heals.
  4. Release your stress and breathe. Transform your health with better breathing and other tips for managing stress.

There’s really no “resolution magic” to the start of the year; you can resolve to make changes any day. Considered, specific goals are easier to reach; small successes build healthier habits; and healthier habits create the sense of satisfaction that truly changes your life. Start now—or whenever you’re ready—to make this year your best year!

For more resolution success strategies and ideas for healthy changes you can make in the new year, check out these links.
Statistic Brain, “New Year’s Resolution Statistics,” Dec. 11, 2016. Accessed Dec. 15, 2016.
Huffington Post, “New Year’s Resolutions: How To Make Your Healthy Goals Stick,” Jan. 4, 2012. Accessed Dec. 13, 2016.
NHS Choices, “10 tips to make your New Year's resolution a success,” UK National Health Service, Dec. 18, 2014. Accessed Dec. 8, 2016.
Sam Cohen, “10 Questions to Ask Yourself Heading Into New Year’s Resolution Diet Season,” Huffington Post, Dec. 8, 2016. Accessed Dec. 8, 2016.
Joseph Luciani, “Why 80% of New Year's Resolutions Fail,” Eat+Run Blog, US News & World Report, Dec. 29, 2015. Accessed Dec. 13, 2016.
Prevention, “8 New Year's Resolutions You'll Actually Stick With,” Dec. 22, 2014. Accessed Dec. 13, 2016.
Michelle McQuaid, “Why Well-Being Is Harder Than It Looks,” Huffington Post, Dec. 16, 2016. Accessed Dec. 16, 2016.

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