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Every year, on December 31 as the clock approaches midnight, billions of people around the world envision a better year ahead. 

They dream of a healthier, happier, and more successful life — smiles, laughter, everything coming up roses. 

New Year’s resolutions can motivate us to create positive change personally and professionally, but experts advise: To make those resolutions stick, make both your goals and steps to achieving them attainable. 

PRIORITIZE YOURSELF

To successfully accomplish your goals and realize your true potential, look within and “focus on you,” says Dr. Christine Grimaldi, founder of The Body Mantra Method, a fitness program for on-the-go celebrities and owner of Body Mantra and Barre Salt Spa in Smithtown. Dr. Grimaldi’s paramount advice: “The key to daily, sustainable happiness for yourself, and even for helping others, is to make yourself a priority.” 

Daily meditation can help, Dr. Grimaldi suggests. 

“Spend five minutes at night making a gratitude list of that day and then a brighter meditation,” she says. “Implementing these tasks will make you a happier and healthier person as a whole.”

PICK A WORTHY RESOLUTION

Consider your reasons for pursuing your resolution, advises Ron Villano, psychotherapist, founder and director of Family & Personal Counseling and Hypnosis of Long Island, and author of the self-help book The Zing.

“Does it align with your values and beliefs or is it something you’re doing because someone else thinks it’s important for you to do?” he asks.

Stefani Kavner, clinical social worker, certified holistic health coach and personal trainer and owner of Huntington-based health and wellness organization Fit for Life, recalls a 78-year-old client who wanted to improve his health so he could dance with his granddaughter at her wedding and one day meet his great grandchildren. 

He “showed up” to work out three times per week for years. At first, “he could hardly do a crunch and within months he was doing full sit-ups. I watched him gain strength and confidence and dance with his granddaughter at her wedding. He’s continued to work out three days a week at 82 years old.”

BE REALISTIC

“Most of us want to lose weight but planning to lose 10 pounds in 10 days is impossible to achieve,” notes Kavner. An alternative, attainable goal, she suggests, is aiming to lose five pounds in one month. Baby steps. 

“If you want to start waking earlier to exercise first thing in the morning, start by setting your clock back 15 minutes earlier than your normal wake-up time for an entire week before setting it back another 15 minutes the following week,” she says.

If detaching from technology is your mission, start small, suggests Villano. 

“Going cold turkey is not a realistic solution,” he says. Instead, he suggests, “For the month of January, I will not look at my cell phone past 9 p.m. … It gets you on the right path and sets a realistic goal designed to give you a win!”

HOLD YOURSELF ACCOUNTABLE

Write everything down. Break down your goals into smaller, more manageable timeframes and record your progress. 

“You can tweak as things change for you, as life is constantly changing,” says Kavner.  

SEEK SUPPORT

For goals that are particularly challenging — like quitting smoking, ending addiction, losing weight — it’s all right to seek professional counseling or support from family and friends. 

“Resolving to make major lifestyle changes to benefit your health and welfare takes a team—with you in the driver’s seat,” says Villano.

CELEBRATE SUCCESS

“Permanent change is the eventual goal but taking notice of the successes you make along the way will help you build that momentum to stick to it,” says Villano. 

Mistakes happen and that’s OK — that’s life. 

“Give yourself a good old-fashioned pat on the back for sticking to the long-term change,” he says. 

“Real, lasting change is hard and happens by changing small habits over time,” adds Kavner. “Time is your friend.”

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