How to achieve your 2018 health goals — the ‘smart’ way

High hopes. Unattainable resolutions. Feelings of failure. Sound familiar?

It certainly may. Every year, we put ourselves through this roller coaster of emotions all for the sake of a little bit of self-improvement. It’s even got a name: False Hope Syndrome.

Perhaps it’s because we dream up our grandiose resolutions as we sip on one too many eggnogs by the fire. Maybe it’s the allure of “new year, new you.” Or it could be that we feel truly motivated to start anew as we reflect on the past year.

But here’s the thing, when your resolutions are too general, like:

  • quit [your bad habit]
  • lose weight
  • save money
  • eat better

You may be setting yourself up to fail. Why? Because the more general your resolutions, the less attainable they actually become. And that’s probably why less than 10% of us are successful in achieving our resolutions every year.

Researchers have learned that the psychology behind goal success is making the goal attainable. How do you do that?

By breaking up the main, lofty goal into smaller, easily achievable steps.


For instance: If your goal is to “lose weight” or “eat better” you need to think about what you can do each day (or week!) to get there. Otherwise you’ll want to give up before you even begin.

Set yourself up for success by making resolutions that are specific and realistic. Check out the examples below to see what we mean.

Not: This year, I’m going to lose 25 pounds.

But: I’m going to lose 1  pound every week until I reach my goal of 25 pounds.

Not: This year, I’m going to cut out all sugar.

But: This year, I’m going to add only 1 tsp of sugar to my coffee instead of 2, and gradually remove sugar altogether from my coffee.


While the first option in both examples is unattainable (too general or too unbending), the alternatives either break up a big, lofty goal into attainable steps OR gives the goal-maker a break to indulge from time to time.

Aptly named S.M.A.R.T goals, these are the kinds of New Year’s Resolutions you can achieve and stay committed to because they are:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Realistic
  • Time-bound

Tracking your progress is also KEY. Instead of feeling like a failure (“I’ve only lost 1 lb this week…”), your mindset immediately switches to the positive (“Success! I lost 1 lb this week!”). All because you are tracking (and meeting) short-term, realistic goals.

So keep these points in mind as you’re contemplating your New Year’s resolutions this year. Your goals for 2018 don’t need to be huge. They need to be specific, realistic, and meaningful to you.

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