Keep your goals attainable, and don’t psych yourself out.

The holidays, no matter which of them you celebrate, are meant to be a time of joy and cohesiveness. Being with family and friends and celebrating according to your faith is the goal for many at this time of year. Something that’s also to be expected at this time of year is the stress that comes with holidays and the beginning of a new year. Many people create resolutions for the new year, but they often tend to be more stressful than anything. That stress is apparent by the number of people who give up on their resolutions after just a couple of months. Granted, some people follow through, but it takes a great deal of effort to do so.

So why do people give up on their New Year’s resolutions so easily? First of all, as mentioned, resolutions can be stressful. For many, the declaration is to exercise more, lose weight or eat healthier foods. All of those goals are great, but they do involve stress. And not only do resolutions involve physical stress, they involve mental stress as well. The physical aspect of this stress may be your asking your body to do things it is not accustomed to, such as running or transitioning to a gluten-free diet. These physical changes can also lead to mental stress, given the fact that you are pushing yourself to do something your brain is not accustomed to as well.

Another reason people tend to give up so easily on their resolutions is the hesitation to be held accountable. In order to make a resolution work, the resolution maker needs to have someone or something to keep them accountable. Ideally, this would be a person with whom you can meet on a regular basis to discuss your progress, someone with permission to “slap your wrist“ if you’re not following the resolution as planned. In addition, there are a myriad of websites that can help you keep yourself accountable.

Finally, the importance of making goals attainable is a critical component of sticking to your New Year’s resolutions. If you have never run before, for example, don’t set the goal of running a marathon in 2014. If you run on a regular basis but have never run a marathon, that goal becomes more reasonable. If you are looking to increase your exercise and physical activity, 30-day fitness challenges are a great way to set and meet attainable goals—and you can start new ones on a monthly basis. Make appointments with your doctor or dietician to discuss appropriate weight loss and healthy eating methods. The Internet can be a slippery slope when it comes to searching for “weight loss” or “diets.” That’s not to say they cannot work, but you have to be willing to do some research to separate fact from fad.

In the end, the main thing to remember is: don’t psych yourself out. Our brains can work against us at times, telling us we cannot do something when in all reality we can. If the thought crosses your mind that you “cannot do it” or “I am just going to give up anyway, so why start?,” that’s your brain working against you. A simple way to combat this negative thinking is to always remember that you control your thoughts; your thoughts do not control you. Print that out on a piece of paper and put it on your refrigerator at home, in your office, or anywhere you will constantly be reminded of it! All too often we get negative thoughts stuck in our heads, and we latch on to them for dear life. Let the negative thoughts go and take care of yourself. The new year is here, and if you want to change something about yourself, you can make it happen. iBi