1. Set realistic goals

Resolutions are much easier to keep if they’re realistic, clear and practical. Compare these two: ‘I’m going to lose loads of weight’, and ‘I’m going to maintain a diet of 1,400 calories per day and walk a mile every morning before work.’ The first one seems like a mountain to climb – how on earth will you make it happen? The second – well, we’re not saying it’s easy, but you can visualise yourself doing it. You’ve got a clear path.

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2. Do one thing at a time

Unless it’s something really simple, taking a resolution seriously generally requires an awful lot of willpower and focus. If you spread yourself too thinly, you’ll have less chance of success. Start with one goal and give yourself time for it to show results. When you see yourself succeeding, you’ll feel energised to make more changes.

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3. Pick the right start date

OK, so 1st January may have already come and gone, but don’t worry – you’re probably not best prepared mentally or physically on a day when you’re tired, hungover and in need of a bit of self-indulgence. It’s better to pick a date to begin that’s going to give you the best chance of success – maybe when you’re back into your normal routine, a couple of weeks after New Year.

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4. Avoid triggers (when you can)

Unless you live on Planet Perfect, somewhere along the line something’s going to happen that will tempt you to break your resolution. And if your resolution involves eating, smoking or drinking – and probably lots of other categories – a common trigger is stress. It can’t be totally avoided, but the better you can cope with it, the easier it will be to stay on course.

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5. Treat yourself

Give yourself rewards along the way. For instance, ex-smokers can put the money they would have spent on cigarettes in a jar, watch it mount up and treat themselves to something fabulous. If your resolution is something else, you can still plan for a treat – preferably something you wouldn’t usually buy for yourself – if you stick at it for a certain period. It’s called bribing yourself, and it works.

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6. Take the long view

Rome wasn’t built in a day! If you break your resolution, don’t beat yourself up and fall into despair, thinking what a useless person you are and how you’re never able to stick at anything. Focus on what you’ve achieved so far, and what you’ve got left to do. Think about your good qualities in general. Then pick yourself up, dust yourself down and start all over again.

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