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The resolution riddle: Steps to make and achieve New Year’s resolutions

It's a yearly question: "Have you made a New Year's resolution?"

According to a Pew Research study, 44 percent of Americans made a resolution in 2014. The most common resolutions were to:

• I will spend less money/save more money,

• I will be a better person

• I will exercise more

• I eat better

• I will stop smoking

While many people make goals for themselves, not as many follow through as the year progresses. Gym memberships become forgotten (until it’s time to pay for them every month) and refrigerators have fewer and fewer vegetables in their drawers.

So what can be done to keep the resolution alive past January second?

According to Psychology Today, making a resolution is a good first-step toward making a change. The University of Scranton study concluded: “people who made resolutions were 10 times more likely to make a positive change after six months compared to people who wanted to change but did not make a New Year’s resolution.”

So making resolutions and setting goals are good.

However, it is important not to try and change everything at once. It can be hard to accomplish one resolution. Making and trying to fulfill 15 is self-sabotage.

The American Psychological Association stresses the importance of taking one step at a time to make changes in habits. “Setting small, attainable goals throughout the year, instead of a singular, overwhelming goal on Jan. 1 can help you reach whatever it is you strive for,” wrote psychologist Lynn Bufka on the organization’s website.

Once a small, attainable resolution is made, there are many ways to work toward achieving that goal. Below are a few common steps:

• Many people find that talking about a goal helps see the goal to fruition. Having an "accountability buddy," someone who knows about a goal and asks about its progress, can help keep a goal alive. It can also be helpful to find people with the same resolution and work together. For example, setting a time to go to the gym with a friend every week,

• There are numerous apps that are meant to help keep people on track to achieve a resolution. Those with iphones have a health app that comes with the device. This app tracks steps taken and the number of staircases climbed each day. There are also apps that allow the user to track food consumption, apps that have workout videos and routines and apps that track how well the user is sleeping. The app store is filled with apps meant to help people achieve a goal. Some cost money or require a subscription, but many are free.

• When pursuing a goal it is important to realize that there will be setbacks. One bad week where old habits run rampant does not mean that a resolution is useless. Most people have moments where they do something that completely contradicts their goal. It is OK. Some people even suggest building "cheat days" into a schedule when trying to achieve a goal. This means having one day a week where TV can be watched for more than one hour, carbs can be consumed or the morning workout session can be skipped.

There are millions of Americans creating resolutions, which means that there is not shortage of support groups, apps, programs and advice for how to make, stick to and achieve a resolution in 2019.