Hollywood, MD—We are now over halfway through the first month of 2018. With the start of a new year, many of us take this opportunity to make a positive change in our lives. A new year can symbolize a fresh start, a chance to better ourselves. While new year’s resolutions sound great in theory, how attainable are they really? It’s nearly impossible to determine an exact statistic for how many people actually follow through with their resolutions, but it seems to be a common trope that these goals are abandoned early in the year. How can we maintain these ambitions that we create for ourselves?

1.) Set realistic goals
If you have already fallen off the wagon, it isn’t too late to jump back on. Setting realistic goals helps to keep yourself on track. If you are trying to stop eating junk food, for some it may be simple to quit cold turkey, while others benefit from weaning themselves off. Instead of quitting overnight, make it a point to only have one treat a day, or every few days, until you can eventually phase it out of your diet altogether.

Setting ginormous goals for yourself right away can be daunting. Know your own capabilities and don’t overwhelm yourself.

2.) Keep yourself accountable
With the ever-expanding, limitless potential of the Internet, there are several apps available that can help you with your specific goal. There are apps for logging workout routines, diets, days without cigarettes, organizational skills, financial assistance—if you can think of it, there’s probably an app for it. If not, maybe you should change your resolution to creating an app!

If you aren’t tech-savvy, there’s nothing wrong with good, old-fashioned pen and paper. Keep a journal of your progress with dates, and when you are feeling troubled with your progress, you can go back and see how far you’ve come.

3.) Reward yourself after milestones
Are you down a dress size? Buy a new dress! You haven’t had any soda in a few weeks? Get a massage! Rewarding yourself for your accomplishments can only encourage you to continue to succeed. Set little milestones for yourself along your journey. Maybe even plan your rewards ahead of time, that way you will only be even more excited to reach them.

If your goal is to not spend as much money, your reward doesn’t have to be something that costs anything. Set some time aside for yourself to listen to a new podcast, read a good book, paint your nails, do a face mask. Self-care is extremely important when trying to develop good habits, or relinquish bad ones.

4.) Share your experiences
Our friends and family can help keep us on the right path. Include your peers in your goals, inform them about what you would like to change so that they can give you advice or even just cheer you on. If you don’t want to drink as much, it won’t help if your friends are continually inviting you out to the bar. Be open and honest with them about your goals and your feelings so that they can help you along the way in your journey. Maybe they can participate in your milestone rewards as well!

5.) Keep a positive mental attitude
Above all, the most important bit of advice to change your lifestyle is to maintain a positive mental attitude through it all. When dealing with major life changes, everyone is going to have a setback every now and then. Life happens, and we are not perfect creatures. Maybe you don’t lose any weight for a few weeks, maybe you get stressed and have a cigarette—it’s okay. We all make mistakes, but we cannot let our mistakes consume us.

An old Chinese proverb states, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Even if you miss a few steps along the way, you still started moving, and that doesn’t mean you have to stop.

At the end of the day, we need to recognize that we are making these changes to benefit us. While we may not particularly enjoy working out or kicking a bad habit, in the long run it will prove to help us. January may almost be over, but the year is only beginning. Let’s stick to our goals and make 2018 a happy, healthy year!