How to Achieve your 2020 New Year's Resolutions
Creating New Year's resolutions is a long-standing tradition in most Western cultures. The start of the new year is often a symbolic time for people to reflect upon habits that they want to change or create as they look ahead to the next year. Now that January is more than halfway over, it might be a good time to re-evaluate your progress on your New Year's resolutions.  

Many people decide that they want to lose weight or spend more time with their families. However, the grim reality is that the majority of New Year's resolutions fail to last even through the month of January. What causes them to fail? Usually, the goals that people set for themselves are unrealistic, not actually that important to them, or they have not been clearly defined. 

This year, try to turn your resolutions into  S.M.A.R.T. goals . SMART goals are goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. To ensure that your resolutions are SMART, ask yourself the following questions:

S pecific:   Is my goal clearly defined?  
You should know exactly what you are trying to achieve. When your goals are too vague, they are a lot easier to put off or dismiss. For people who set out to "lose weight," it's important to define how much weight they may want to lose and come up with a specific plan on how to accomplish this (e.g., replacing fast food for healthier options or going to the gym three times each week). 

M easurable:   Will I know when I have achieved my goal?  
Set criteria that can help you objectively determine what your progress is. Again, the more specifically you design your goal, the easier it will be to track both progress and achievement of your goal.

A chievable: Is my goal realistic?  
Some goals may sound desirable, but if they are not realistic, you're more likely to feel discouraged and give up. Therefore, start small and work your way up to some of the loftier goals you may have for yourself. Seeing your progress along the way will help to build your motivation. 

R elevant:   Is my goal important to me?  
If you set resolutions or goals that you don't really care about, you're less likely to follow through with them. Consider why you are setting the goals that you are and why they are meaningful for you in your life. 

T ime-bound: Have I given myself a time limit to achieve my goal?  
We all risk the temptation of procrastination when we do not set a due date, and pretty soon those goals we were once motivated to achieve no longer feel like a priority. 

Here are some other tips to help you be successful with your resolutions this year:

1) Make your goals action-oriented.   It's a lot easier to increase a behavior than it is to decrease or stop one. For example, instead of setting a goal to stop eating junk food, try setting a goal to eat more fruits and vegetables.
2) Remove barriers.   Anticipate the things that might stand in your way and have a plan for how you will deal with them when they pop up. 

3) Establish a support system.   It's a lot easier to have a group of people either participating with you or supporting you along the way. 

4) Reward yourself!   Positive reinforcement is an evidence-based strategy to help motivate and change behavior. Achieving a goal might be the prize in itself, but adding additional incentives along the way can help get you over the occasional hump.

We wish you a Happy New Year from all of us at the Mind Health Institute, Newport Beach and Laguna Beach!!