It’s that time of year again! The new year has begun and everyone is asking about your resolutions. Personally, I love the idea behind resolutions. I enjoy fresh starts and think a new year is a great way to find renewed energy toward being your best self. However, it can be daunting to commit to a big change and some people fear what they see as the inevitable guilt halfway through the year when they realize their resolutions remain unfulfilled. So let’s take some of the pressure off the word, shall we?

Let’s start by calling resolutions what they really are: goals. That’s not so scary. Now, start brainstorming. In what area of your life would you like to make a change? Try to think in terms of something you would like TO do, rather than what you DON’T want to do. For example instead of “i don’t want to eat so much junk” say “I’d like to eat at least two servings of vegetables every day.” It is very important to be realistic. You’re more likely to stick to your goals if they are within reach of your starting point. A resolution to run a marathon is probably not attainable in the coming year if you’ve never run a mile. But, going to the gym twice a week or walking daily around the block is totally do-able. Plus, you have room to grow from there.

It also helps for your goals to be measurable.  How will you know you’ve reached it?  If you have a goal to practice more self-care maybe you meditate three times a week or make a nightly gratitude list.  These are things you can notice yourself doing and celebrate accomplishing.  Incidentally, celebrating your progress is a vital step here as well.  Giving ourselves a pat on the back actually releases dopamine, one of the feel good chemicals in our brains.   The release of this chemical helps us stay motivated, and therefore more likely to stick to our plan.

Finally, keep in mind the mantra “progress, not perfection.”  Be gentle and realistic with yourself and positive change will be yours.