Most New Year’s resolutions relate to behavior changes, such as quitting bad habits and forming new, beneficial ones.

Unfortunately, more than 88% of people who try to lose weight, quit smoking, start exercising or save more money fail and give up during the first three months.

Why? Did you ever notice New Year’s resolutions tend to be somewhat negative—by highlighting your shortcomings and what you failed to previously accomplish?

Maybe the negative connotations along with no strategy for reaching our lofty goals are the underpinnings of why most of us abandon resolutions early on.

Check out five positive ways you can approach change in the coming year:

1) Choose a positive word to make it your motto and mantra
Describe the mindset you wish to maintain throughout the year. The simple act of focusing on one chosen word, like "mindful", "peaceful", "grateful", "helpful", or "balance", can guide choices, decisions or actions when life gets chaotic, complex or overwhelming.

2) Make an intentions list
Instead of setting a resolution to “lose 10-pounds”, try setting smaller task-oriented goals to help get you there--such as taking the stairs most days, eating a healthy breakfast on weekdays, setting and adhering to a bed time 5 days per week, or going to yoga class twice a week. These intentions or goals are specific, attainable, and foster achievement and positive growth in your life. However, don’t set too many intentions at once. Start with your top two to three challenging, but achievable goals. You can always add additional intentions once these become second nature. 

3) Highlight your strengths, not your weaknesses
The path of least resistance towards positive change is to take stock of what’s already working. Make a list of all the positive things (about yourself, your achievements and/or behaviors) you wish to maintain and then build upon those. Already walking? Set or increase your weekly steps goal, or find some like-minded coworkers to walk 10-15 minutes during your lunch hour. By building on strengths, you are training your brain to succeed, and over time, what seems like baby steps produces new lifestyle habits.

4) Use addition instead of subtraction
Instead of cutting pleasurable things out, add something. Denying ourselves foods or activities we enjoy usually backfires because our thoughts remain on what was removed. Shifting our thoughts to new, exciting additions takes the power and focus away from eliminations.  Instead of asserting a cutback on red meat, plan for the addition of a delicious plant-based meal to your weekly menu. Or, do you fight snacking while relaxing in front of the TV at night? Try adding an Epsom salt bath with relaxing music (or audiobook) and a cup of chamomile tea to your evening routine. Your habit of noshing on comfort foods may lessen or disappear.

5) Shift the focus away from yourself and dedicate time to helping others
Helping others not only promotes a deeper sense of gratitude for the many things we take for granted in our lives, but the mere commitment to generosity stimulates happiness and health. Research shows volunteering on a regular basis (approximately 200 hours per year) can improve health in ways that can lengthen the lifespan. Volunteers show an improved ability to manage stress, stave off disease, have reduced rates of depression and an increased sense of life satisfaction and purpose.  

Whatever you decide, make sure to choose changes that are truly meaningful to you, pose them in a positive light and schedule them into the rhythm of your daily routine for the greatest success.

Happy New Year!


These materials are provided to you by
Blythedale Children’s Hospital and Kohl’s Eat Well, Be Well Nutrition Outreach Program.
For more tips and information, please visit

Kohl's Eat Well, Be Well Program

Blythedale Children's Hospital, through the generosity of Kohl’s Department Stores, is proud to offer Blythedale and Kohl's Eat Well, Be Well, an innovative outreach program designed to bring health and nutrition education to schools throughout Westchester and Putnam counties. Through this program, Blythedale staff members teach healthy eating habits to children by providing curricula, training and educational tools to school districts throughout the area. The program provides general nutrition guidelines to students, parents and school faculty. Blythedale Children's Hospital offers experts in nutrition and health-education to speak with local parenting groups, PTAs and school personnel.

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