Smart resolutions to make in 2019—and how to actually keep them.

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We spoke with Dr. E. Kirk Luder, a Lexington, VA psychiatrist to help prepare ourselves for success when it comes to our resolutions. He shared his insights and key tips to keep in mind when setting your New Year’s resolutions.

Rethink your approach

“The rate of follow-through with New Year’s resolutions is really low,” says Dr. Luder. “Part of the problem is that people set unrealistic ideas for change, and they are often acts of discipline, like a diet.” Instead, he says, choose achievable goals that enhance your mood (like practicing mindfulness) rather than something that you have a sense of obligation to do (like cutting calories). 

Focus on daily gratitude

“I often tell people to make a list of the things in their life that they feel grateful for and review it for a couple of minutes every day,” Dr. Luder says. “Doing this has pretty robust effects on feelings of life satisfaction and happiness.” It’s an easy habit to pick up, which makes it an A+ resolution. “Most people really like doing it, and there’s something about reflecting on your blessings that helps neutralize a lot of the negative stuff that comes up every day,” he says.

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Set yourself up for success

If you opt to make a goal-oriented resolution, such as losing weight, it’s all about keeping decision-making as simple (and limited) as possible. “You’re more likely to achieve sustained change if it involves making fewer day-to-day choices,” says Dr. Luder. “For example, if you say, ‘I’ve got to lose 2 pounds a week,’ that means you have to make probably 50 decisions in a week’s time about whether or not to eat something. Instead, you should say, ‘I am going to completely give up added sugar or cut out sodas.’"

Keep these three things in mind when planning your resolutions and 2019 will be off to a good start.

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