How to Make New Year’s Resolutions That Stick

Dr. Diana Graham
Dr. Diana Graham, BIGFOOT HEALTH’s newest team member.

It’s that time of year again, as we go straight from the hectic (but hopefully happy) bustle of the Christmas season into the double edged sword of the New Year. New Year’s resolutions are a popular way to turn a corner on an old issue, or wipe the slate clean on an unwanted habit and start over.

And while this is a great opportunity to look your life in the face and make changes, it can be too easy to inadvertently let resolutions add stress, pressure, and guilt to your day. And nobody needs that.

Some studies show that as many as 50 – 80% of people abandon their resolutions after six months, often even sooner. But if you know yourself, understand a little bit about human behavior, and plan accordingly, you don’t have to join those statistics!

Here are some tips on making (and keeping) New Year’s resolutions that you can feel good about:

Avoid outsized resolutions that don’t have a clear path to achievement.

Grand goals sound great on paper … “I’m going to lose 50 pounds by June.” Or, “I’ll quit my two pack-a-day 20 year smoking habit cold turkey, or cut up all my credit cards and get rid of all my debt!” Who wouldn’t want to achieve those milestones? The danger is that lofty goals can quickly feel overwhelming. They take a long time to achieve, and most people don’t have that patience. When they don’t see rapid progress, they throw up their hands and give up.

Break a larger goal into smaller, achievable landmarks.

“I’d like to lose 5 pounds by Valentine’s Day.”  Or, “I’m cutting back to one and a half packs over the next 30 days.” Sure, these aren’t as dramatic, but they are practical. With the right tools and support, you can make them happen.

Get specific, and focus on your day to day progress.

If you want to lose weight, make a list of specific steps you’ll take to do that, but avoid making sweeping deletions from your life, such as giving up all sugar or carbs. Think instead about where you can make smaller changes: If you usually eat two or three slices of pizza, can you stop at one or two?

Know yourself.

Think about what has worked best for you in the past, and what hasn’t. Are you at your best in the mornings? That’s the time of day to try to work in your new habits. Planning to take on a difficult challenge as soon as you arrive home from work, tired and annoyed after your commute, is probably not the way to set yourself up for success.

Be kind and forgiving to yourself.

We’re all much more likely to offer understanding toward others than to ourselves, and changing old habits takes time. So be nice to yourself. You’re gonna have off days, and that’s okay. Don’t view an off day or a step backward as a failure. That’s the point where you’ll criticize yourself and give up. Tomorrow is a new day, and a fresh chance to work toward your goals.

Be patient.

Psychologists know that humans need time to break old habits and form new ones; we’re talking weeks here, not days. If you stick with your efforts, they will slowly pay off. We live in an era of instant gratification. Most resolutions require us to leave that mindset for a while and look at progress over weeks and months, rather than minutes, hours, or days.

Reward yourself.

Don’t forget that resolutions can involve fun topics also. Maybe this is the year you learn to draw, save up for that amazing trip to Iceland, or take up swing dancing.

For health related changes, always talk with your primary care doctor before getting started with an exercise program. Your doctor is also an excellent resource to help you quit smoking, or if you have concerns about alcohol or other substances. This article is not intended to be medical advice, and does not connote any type of doctor-patient relationship.

About Diana:

Diana Graham, M.D. is a psychiatrist who lives and practices in Raleigh, North Carolina. She received her medical training at Harvard Medical School and NYU School of Medicine. Diana also runs Bonnie’s Book Foundation, a small family nonprofit dedicated to improving children’s literacy by putting books in the hands and homes of at-risk kids, many of whom have no books of their own. Learn more at

Sprinkles are healthy!!😎#pjs #descendants #dunkin #bigfoothealth #girlsruleboysdrool ...

Stay moving, stay healthy!!😎 #BIGFOOTHEALTH #GoBig #todayistheday #doctorsforyou #takeyourfirststep #inspirationandperspiration #moveyourbody #sportsmedicine #liveyourbestlife #healthyliving #HealthforAll #healthcare #fitnessisfun #raleighfootdocs #footandankle ...

Hello, Rhea here! I’ve been taking a rest in Duluth this weekend, which seems absolutely WILD to rest during these unpredictable times.The pandemic has thrown a lot of my plans into a loop, and from the beginning it felt like a constant fight to be busy, productive, and proactive at all of the tasks I need to do. However, the weekend surrounded by beautiful nature and clean air reminded me that it’s good to stop, breathe it all in, and take a break. I hope that all of y’all take some time today to go outside, enjoy nature, and most importantly REST!


#bfh #bigfoothealth #wellness #selfcare #nature #adventure #relax #healthylifestyle #goodvibes

Laughing is healthy!!!😍#jeep #sillysisters #bigfoothealth #phonesarefunny #gobig😎 ...

Awesome runners, rockin’ it!!💪. Much thanks to the town of Holly Springs😎#doctorsforyou #bigfoot #fitnessisfun #raleigh ...

Here’s to a sunny day!!😎#hopeiscool #BIGFOOTHEALTH #GoBig #doctorsforyou #inspirationandperspiration #sportsmedicine #jeep #carolinajeeps #4x4 #pollenisfun ...

✨Wellness Wednesday✨

Let this stand as a reminder to be kind to yourself because not every day is going to be amazing. It is perfectly fine to let yourself feel the emotions you feel when you are down because it is in dealing with these emotions that you make progress with your mental health rather than bottling everything inside. There is no one form of progress!

#bigfoothealth #gobig #wellnesswednesday #mentalhealthcheck #bekind #progress

✨Wellness Wednesday✨

Love the world. Sounds like a simple statement, but it’s not. It requires choosing to embrace and love the difficulties in life. It involves believing in all the good in the world. It necessitates waking up every morning and choosing to love the world because it encapsulates so much life. It is in this that you will find happiness, so Go Big and choose to love the world and it just might love you right back.
Try posting some of your favorite quotes, lyrics, and verses (like this one) around you as helpful reminders to be the best you can! Go big!
#gobig #bigfoothealth #lovetheworld #wellnesswednesday #love

Q&A!!😎#bigfoothealth #fun #hairproduct #doctorsforyou #gobig #camping #raleighnc ...

✨Wellness Wednesday✨

The best way to start achieving your health goals is your mindset, the goals of striving towards the best that you can be! Of course, you may have days where that goal seems so far away. But it is POWERFUL to hold onto that thought in the back of your mind that says, “I can do this!” So remember that being healthy isn’t just about running a mile or eating your fruits and veggies, but also to take care of your inner health!


#healthylifestyle #mindsetiseverything #bigfoot #bigfoothealth #gobig #wellnesswednesday

✨Wellness Wednesday ✨

With Valentine’s Day being last Sunday, we all know the importance of cherishing and caring for our loved ones. However, do we ever look at ourselves of our Valentine? Have we looked at our reflections in the mirror and only had negative thoughts? That’s why, at Bigfoot Health, we challenge you to start giving your love NOW to yourself, because you deserve it!
#bigfoothealth #gobig #selfcare #selflove #wellness #healthylifestyle #positivevibes

Communing with the trees today at the Birkie Tour #bigfoothealth #gobig ...

With all good things comes moderation, and this includes caffeine! We all need that burst in our day, but just remember your caffeine limits. Go BIG, and crack a smile after you sip your morning coffee! ☕️😄

#healthylifestyle #caffeine #bigfoothealth #healthyliving #gobig #selfcare #healthiswealth

As the late Nipsey Hussle once said “Hard work and dedication”, Consistency is key in pursuing a healthy lifestyle. To what ever you put your mind to stay dedicated! 💯 #gobig#Bigfoothealth#consistencyiskey🔑#dedication#practicemakesperfect#juggling#hardwork ...

Working out should be a celebration of yourself, of how much you can do and how great you can feel about yourself! Of course, as much as we stress on “pushing limits”, it’s healthy to understand what we currently can’t handle. It’s great to take care of ourselves! So remember, Go BIG in the way that works best with you! 💯

#bigfoothealth #gobig #pushyourlimits #takecareofyourself #healthyboundaries #workout #workoutmotivation #healthylifestyle

Don’t get stuck in the stillness!

Keep up with your hobbies, and don’t be afraid to try new ones! Studies show the abundant benefits to partaking in hobbies and having structured down time.

GO BIG and try something new today! It’s never the wrong time!

#gobig #bigfoothealth #moveyourbody #healthandwellness #skating #winter #hobby #somethingnew

Are you nervous about the COVID-19 vaccine? Wonder what getting vaccinated was like? If so, check out my interview with my sister, an amazing healthcare worker, on the Bigfoot Health blog (link in bio)! Go BIG! 💪

#bigfoothealth #covid #pfizer #moderna #healthyliving #healthcareworkers #vaccines #wellness #gobig