According to several studies, only about one in 10 people who make New Year’s resolutions will be successful in their pursuits. Often, it’s the approach — not the goal itself — that dooms the turn-over-a-new-leaf crowd to failure. Here are some ways to increase the chances that your resolution will stick.


If your goal is to exercise more, don’t promise yourself that you’ll wake up at 5 a.m. every day and get your sweat on with an hour of P90X. If you’re not used to working out that early — or working out at all — your body will have a tough time adjusting to such a dramatic shift in your routine. Instead, start out by taking at least 5 to 10 minutes out of your day to walk, stretch or do basic core exercises such as crunches. Gradually work up to 20 minutes, then 30, and so on, simultaneously increasing the difficulty of the workout. Before you know it, you’ll be ready to film your own exercise video.


If your goal is to eat healthier, don’t resolve to immediately eliminate all sweets, chips and soda from your diet. Start by cutting one unhealthy item and subbing in a healthy option. For example, instead of eating a bag of Cheetos with your sandwich at lunch, try eating baby carrots instead. They’re both small and orange — you probably won’t even notice the difference! And if you’re going to indulge, remember that real treats made with real ingredients are always better than packaged, processed snacks — one more reason to stop by Great Harvest or Bernice’s Bakery. Gradually work toward making the healthy stuff the norm, not the exception.


If your goal is to save more money, don’t deprive yourself of all nonessential purchases. Let’s face it: life without movies, concerts and Kettlehouse growlers would totally suck. Just try to cut back on superfluous spending one dollar at a time by really thinking about what you’re buying. You might just realize that you don’t really need four lattes a day or that cute pair of animal print heels that you’ll only wear once.


Above all, try to remember that this is about improving your life, not making yourself suffer. If you don’t buy in to what you’re doing, there’s no way you’re going to beat the odds.


Brooke is a 2010 graduate of The University of Montana, where she ran track and cross country for the Grizzlies. She is currently working as a writer and editor in Missoula.


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