What’s the best way to make health resolutions that stick?

Many of us set the bar too high, and then feel like failures when we aren’t able to meet it. I’ve come to think in terms of making small, incremental changes instead of expecting a magical reinvention just because it’s a new year. Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project and Better than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives, writes that habits “are the invisible architecture of daily life…. If we change our habits, we change our lives.”

Better your odds for success with a gentle, realistic approach for making improvements in your life.

And James Clear, who wrote Atomic Habits, advises working to make progress incrementally, too—one percent at a time. If we exercise one percent more every day, by the end of the year we’ll be much further ahead than if we’d tried (and likely failed) to quadruple our activity on day one.

With those advisors in mind, I recommend disconnecting resolutions from New Year’s Day, and instead committing to evolution throughout the year. Each week, plan a very small, very specific change that you’re confident you can make. Here are some examples:

  • Week one: eat one more serving of fruit on three days.
  • Week two: swap out chips for carrots at two lunches.
  • Week three: say one affirming thing to your partner every day.
  • Week four: disconnect from screens 30 minutes earlier before bedtime.

Don’t give up on making improvements in your life! Just try a gentle, realistic approach to give yourself better odds for success. Good luck, and let us know how it goes

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