How to achieve your New Year’s resolutions

The ball dropped, 2023 is officially here – and for a lot of people, so are those pesky New Year's resolutions.

"To go on a diet for once and stay on it," one person said of her goal in downtown Bethesda Monday.

"To be more consistent in the gym and bench two plates for reps," remarked another.

Of course actually sticking to a New Year's resolution is rarely easy, but that doesn't mean it can't be done.

"There are a lot of tactics that have been tested and proven to help," explained Katy Milkman, a University of Pennsylvania professor who wrote the book "How to Change" about the science of achieving your goals.

Make a detailed plan

One tip Milkman offered is to make a detailed plan for when, where, and how you're going to get the job done.

"You don't just say, ‘I'm going to get to the gym sometime this week,' you say, ‘I'm going to go Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday at 5 o'clock right after work. I'm going to take the bus there, and I'm going to go to the YMCA that's exactly one mile from my office," Milkman said.

Break your goals down into bite-sized pieces

"Say your goal is you want to volunteer regularly this year," she explained. "A better goal would be to say, ‘I'm going to volunteer 200 hours this year,' and then break that down into weekly goals. So that's going to be four hours a week."

Have a penalty clause

"There's research showing that when we penalize ourselves for failing to achieve our goals, it actually makes it more likely that we'll get there," she said.

Lastly, if you do slip up on your resolution …

"Of course, every day isn't going to be perfect, and you may need to look for the next fresh start if you stumble and you need to get up again, and that's totally normal and totally acceptable and it should be what you expect as opposed to expecting a perfect journey," said Milkman.

For more tips, Milkman's book and other information can be found here.