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Keep New Year resolutions manageable

The page has finally turned. After weeks of reflection and preparation, the calendar has finally flipped, as today marks the second day of the new year.

The holiday season has now officially drawn to a close, as most businesses will open their doors once again today, ready to tackle the opportunities and challenges that 2019 will bring.

The end of December serves as an annual cultural moment to pause and look back on what the previous 12 months brought, both good and bad. This period of reflection helps provide perspective for the new year, as well as allows us to reminisce on what we did well during the previous year and to learn from our mistakes. One of the most common implications from this period of reflection comes in the form of new year’s resolutions. Whether it be a commitment to exercise more, eat better, read more or recommit to an old habit that has fallen out of practice, resolutions are a great way to jump-start change in our lives.

The reality is, however, most resolutions made by Jan. 1 are often abandoned by Feb. 1. One of the main culprits as to why this happens is the simple fact that most resolutions made are too lofty to realistically meet. A commitment to exercise six times per week made by someone who has not been to a gym in years is unlikely to gain traction. Likewise, a decision to remove caffeine completely from the life of an avid coffee drinker will prove just as difficult. The pendulum swing is just too severe in these cases, and failure is all but assured from the beginning.

What is important to remember while making new year’s resolutions is to make manageable goals. Determine what behaviors need to be adjusted in the coming year, then create concrete manageable steps to get there. For those trying to cut back on caffeine, a more realistic goal may be to move from three cups of coffee per day to two. For those looking to read more, it likely isn’t best to dive headfirst into Tolstoy’s War and Peace, but rather to pick up a daily copy of the Valley Times-News as a starting point.

Whatever your resolution this January, we hope to see you still committed in February and beyond. The key, as it is in so many areas of life, is consistent attention to a realistic plan. It is not always glamorous or fun, but can lead to results.