Kelly McGonigal
Pictured: Kelly McGonigal
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4 Characteristics of the Perfect Resolution

  1. Want it for yourself. Don't choose a resolution because someone else wants you to change, or because you think you should do it, McGonigal cautions. In general, the mind-set of self-improvement—that there's something wrong with you that needs to be fixed—is not constructive. New Year's resolutions should be about being good to yourself.

  2. Be specific but flexible. The steps to achieving your resolution are important because they give you something specific to do and monitor. But leave room to revise these steps if they turn out to be unsustainable or don't lead to the benefits you expected.

  3. Get support. Sometimes we equate New Year's resolutions with personal willpower, but you don't have to achieve your goals alone. What information or resources do you need? Who can help you? Can you find a group that supports the change you want to make?

  4. Focus on the why before the what. Before you commit to your resolution, make sure you appreciate the big-picture goal that's driving it. What do you want in your life? What would help you achieve better health and greater happiness?

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