It's January, and many are taking the first steps to follow through on their New Year's resolutions. Maybe that's more time at the gym, a diet, or a weekly reading goal. Regardless, almost anyone will tell you that sticking to your goals is tough. So psychiatrist Dr. Yalda Sophie has some tips for those trying to go the distance.
Number one, don't over do it. "Most people get too ambitious," she said. For example, if you've never worked out before, don't make it your New Year's resolution to run a marathon by January."
Not only is that probably impossible, your failure will discourage you from working out more regularly — which is the real goal, not running a marathon.
The best approach, she said, is to focus on small changes that can be made over time. "You can't create a habit overnight. You can't break a habit overnight. So give yourself time." In other words, it's about the process rather than the end goal.
That way, every time you make some progress, you get a little dopamine hit. This can create a positive feedback loop that will make the changes lasting, rather than blip in January.
Sophie said this applies to a common New Year's goal: dry January.
While every person has to assess their own drinking behavior, she stressed that it's best to cut down on alcohol consumption "little by little every day" rather than going "cold turkey."
"Once you start and get the momentum going, it gets easier in the process," she said.