This year, get ahead of your New Year’s resolutions by staying smart, focused, and grateful.

We all see the New Year as a fresh start, and it definitely can be the opportunity to create new habits and change your life. But we all have fallen into the trap of doing too much at once, getting discouraged when things don’t work out, and giving up. We've put together a list of tips to help make sure you stay on top of your 2018 resolutions.

Don’t try to change everything in your life at once

[caption id="attachment_6242" align="aligncenter" width="1200"]New Year's resolutions Courtesy of Bluehost.com[/caption] The worst you can do is try to change everything all at the same time. We don’t just wake up on the first of January and become totally different people. Change takes time, and change is mostly about creating new, better habits. And it is extremely difficult to create a thousand new habits simultaneously. Get focused on what’s most important to you -- pick four or five key changes you want to make in your life. Try to make these changes significant, cornerstone changes let’s say, and once you complete those goals many other things will start to fall into place as well. Good examples of this can include getting into shape, eating healthier, working on a dream such as a blog, side hustle, or business idea. Work on forming these new habits incrementally. If your goal is to be fit and eat clean, you’re not going to represent the epitome of health the first week. Start by setting a goal of how many times a week you want to exercise, how many vegan meals you want to cook a week, and move up to more challenging goals from there. The key is to focus on habits -- everyday actions targeted at specific goals. You may not notice right away, but in a few weeks, and definitely a few months, you’ll see how many areas of your life have improved from working on one cornerstone change.

There is no perfect time to start

[caption id="attachment_6237" align="aligncenter" width="950"]New Year's resolutions Courtesy of Mashable.com[/caption] Sure, January 1 seems like a good time to start working on the new you, and it’s not a bad day. But neither is any other day. Time is relative and once you grasp that concept, it’ll be much easier for you to be okay starting at 3 p.m. on a random Tuesday in February. We can fall into the trap that you’ll start when you turn a certain age, or the clock strikes midnight, and that creates unrealistic expectations that just because a hand moved on a clock, you are suddenly somehow different. As mentioned in the first point, change comes from working on creating new habits over time. If you think that you need to wait to start, you will ultimately be disappointed with yourself, and you might miss a great opportunity because you didn’t think you could have gone for it before your set start time. That being said, the new year is a great moment to assess your goals and to really think about how you want 2018 to be for you. Embrace this new beginning. Just don’t feel locked into starting something on the first of the year, or feel like you aren’t able to start something before or after January 1. The best time to begin is now and today.

Don’t get discouraged if it’s not perfect

[caption id="attachment_6244" align="aligncenter" width="650"] Courtesy of YouthAreAwesome.com[/caption] If you become a total perfectionist in completing your goals and changing your life, you will never get anything done. It’s good to have a vision, and it’s great to work hard to get the details right, but if we get fixated on every little move, the minute we make a move wrong, we’ll feel as though it’s all ruined. Perfect is a tough standard to live up to, so work on letting it go in the New Year. Focus on doing, rather than the exact details of how. Allow yourself mistakes; don’t beat yourself up for not getting the technique right the first time or having a typo in a piece of your content. The reason most people don’t follow through with resolutions is that they veer slightly off course one day, but never hold themselves accountable to get back on track the next. It doesn’t matter that one day wasn’t perfect, but it does matter that the sum of your days add up to change.

Be realistic and reasonable with yourself

[caption id="attachment_6239" align="aligncenter" width="800"] Courtesy of ValleyFairDental.com[/caption] This goes back to not trying to change your life all at once and not being a perfectionist. It also means creating goals for yourself you can actually do. If you haven’t stepped foot in a gym in years, you’re probably not going to be able to start going six days a week just like that. Start with three days and don’t let yourself feel like you’re not doing enough. Work on your new habits incrementally. Focus on finding success in three days, then you can bump it up to four and so forth. Know that you’re working on your goals even when it may feel like you’re not doing enough. You are allowed to take breaks, have a day off, or slip up sometimes, and it doesn’t mean you aren’t working towards change. It means you’re being reasonable with yourself as a human being who can’t be on 24/7.

Practice gratitude

[caption id="attachment_6240" align="aligncenter" width="900"] Courtesy of JeffBullas.com[/caption] If you don’t actively remain grateful for what you have and what you’ve already accomplished, no amount of achievement or change will truly make you happy. Work on practicing gratitude in everything you do. For most people, there are plenty of things to be grateful for in this very moment. If you’re struggling, focus on these aspects: the fact that you’re still breathing, that you have the ability to change your life, that you are in control no matter your circumstances. Though it may sound too much like Pollyanna, choose to learn and see the positive in all experiences. By changing your perspective, your life begins to change. And the more grateful you are, the more positive you become, and the more momentum and motivation you gain to change your life. What are your New Year’s resolutions for 2018? What tools and tips do you plan to use to achieve them? Let us know in the comments below!

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