As the end of 2017 approaches, many of us are already thinking ahead into the New Year. As we reflect on the past and want to change in the future, the words “New Years Resolutions” may be flashing in big, bold letters in our minds. But with half of all resolutions failing, how can we make resolutions that actually stick? Keep reading to help identify and reach your 2018 goals.

Be SMART with Your Goals

Before we start listing possible New Years Resolutions, let’s take a step back and be SMART about them. In order to accomplish your goals, they need to be…

Specific: Meaning your goal is absolutely clear. Instead of saying you want to lose weight, set a goal such as five pounds in a month. By making the goal have a set standard and timeframe, you will be that much more accountable to reach that goal.

Measurable: This seems most obvious for fitness or weight-loss related resolutions, however, measuring your progress can be beneficial for other goals too. Maybe you want to start taking supplements or stop biting your nails or start practicing gratitude. Get yourself a bullet journal or an app designed to help you start tracking these habits and reinforce your progress.

Achievable: While it’s great to dream big and reach for the stars, sometimes tackling a big goal too quickly can frustrate you to the point of giving up on your goals – or stress you out to the point of lacking focus on other goals. Make sure to intermix realistic goals with ones that challenge you to help you stay on track.

Relevant: Are you setting resolutions that actually matter to you? Or are you setting it because society or someone else is telling you too? Most resolutions fail because they aren’t “the right” resolutions for that person. “If you do it out of the sense of self-hate or remorse or a strong passion at that moment, it doesn’t usually last long,” said Dr. Michael Bennett, a psychiatrist, and co-author of two self-help books. “But if you build up a process where you’re thinking harder about what’s good for you, you’re changing the structure of your life, you’re bringing people into your life who will reinforce that resolution, then I think you have a fighting chance.”

Time-bound: Just as we noted to be realistic with our goals, the time frame in which we want to achieve the goal should be realistic too. This means you may need to break your goal into a series of smaller goals, each set within a specific time frame. Not only will this help you reach your goal and not overwhelm you, but also by achieving the small goals in between, you’ll be motivated to keep on with the goal and not fall off the wagon.

Commit to Physical Health

 Many of us focus on weight-loss in the New Year, but what about committing to overall wellness instead? By focusing on healing from the inside out, you can achieve a healthy lifestyle that makes you look and feel your best. Weight-loss is just an added bonus!

Start eating healthier food, and less food overall: Everyone knows that eating less junk and more nutritious food is great for weight-loss, but people tend to forget what those powerful nutrients actually do for our bodies. When we put down the processed food and start eating macro and micronutrient-rich whole foods, we start feeding our body in a whole new way. By adding superfoods into our diets, we reap the benefits ranging from a boosted immune system and reduced inflammation to shinier hair and clearer skin.

Become more active: Inactivity is a huge problem for most Americans. We spend our 9-5 sitting in front of our computer screens and by the time we get home, we are too mentally exhausted to do anything but lay on the couch for the rest of the night. This not only causes issues for our posture but for our overall health as well. Even if you aren’t overweight, incorporating more activity into your day is never a bad idea, so park in the back of the parking lot, take those stairs, and try other ways to keep moving throughout your day.

Give up your vices: As the saying goes, “it’s better late than never.” Let 2018 be the year you finally give up those habits you know aren’t good for you. Do your best to quit and modify habits such as smoking, gambling, and drinking to aid in your quest for overall wellness.

Commit to Mental Health

 Mental health has made great strides this year. More and more people are opening up and ready to talk through difficult issues they may have. A balanced mind is just another piece of the overall wellness puzzle.

Open up to the thought of therapy: Going to therapy used to be seen as a sign of instability and weakness. Thankfully, in the year past few years, many celebrities opened up about their use of therapy to help them cope with such intense criticism and spotlight. This year, if mental health is something you’re striving for, don’t let the fear of weakness stop you from connecting with a therapist. There is no shame in seeking help and a few therapy sessions can give you coping skills and other tools that you can use for the rest of your life.

 Learn to let go of grudges and avoid moping: There are many of us that sit around and feel sorry for ourselves and let those feelings take control of our lives. Yes, life can be difficult and unfair at times. It takes a lot to overcome some challenges but sitting around and moping doesn’t help solve any of these issues. Use this year to focus on forgiveness and using difficult times as positive motivation to cultivate a brighter future and leave issues in the past where they belong. 

 Volunteer and give more to charity: Its cliché, but giving is the best gift. In order to reflect and find perspective on your own problems, volunteer to help those less fortunate than you. Here’s how you can find time to volunteer in your busy life.

Commit to Financial Health

One of the last pieces of the wellness puzzle is being open about your financial health. No matter what your income is, there are tips and tricks to freeing yourself from monetary woes.

Start saving money: Saving money is something a lot of us are taught as children. Many of us had piggy banks that held spare change for a rainy day. While we made small donations, over time, that loose change grew to quite the savings. By applying the same thought process to the money you make today, you can put aside a rather large chunk of change in no time which can go towards traveling, fixing the house, or buying a new car. Get yourself an adult version of a piggy bank or try these apps to save money efficiently.

 Get out of debt: One great use of that saved money is to start fully committing to paying off your financial debts. Unfortunately, it’s really hard to move forward when weighed down in this manner. The road to financial freedom is tricky and full of obstacles, but it is definitely manageable with a bit of planning and self-restraint. You won’t believe how good it will feel to be financially free, and remember, Rome wasn’t built (or paid off) in a day.

Make an appointment to see a financial advisor: Just like therapy, there is no shame in getting help with the things you know you can’t do on your own. While this can be intimidating, think of your financial advisor as a coach who wants to help you reach your goals. Just start off with an initial consultation, and based on that conversation, you can come up with a strategy that’s as simple or as complex as you want.

Commit to You

 This last piece may seem a bit redundant, however, it’s important to set goals that will make you happier in the long run. Sure you can set all of your goals around one big challenge, but as we stated before, that’s not exactly SMART. Make sure to add in resolutions that will aid in your day to day happiness like getting more quality sleep, reading more, and even finding a new passion project or hobby. This way, you can ease the intensity of your bigger goals and keep you on track with any and all resolutions you set this year!

In Case You Need More Guidance…

As you reflect on this past year and think about the future, remember we at Cristina Panaccione and Associates are always here to help you achieve your goals and resolutions. With two locations in the South Hills of Pittsburgh, it’s easier than ever to find help.  We are currently accepting a limited number of new patients. Check out our videos to learn more about how we can help you through this past year and into the new one.


* This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Please contact a medical professional for advice.