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2017 has crept up on us and with that, people all over the world are hastily writing down New Year’s resolutions which they swear they will stick to. Most people have weight loss, stop smoking, save money and exercise more among the top things on their lists but sadly very few people will actually stick to those and most will have thrown them out the window by the time February rolls around.

When we decide to change some aspect of our behaviour we can usually stick to it for a little while. However, when areas of the brain responsible for decision-making become stressed or tired we crumble and give in to our desires for instant gratification.

Here are 5 tips to help you stick to your New Year’s resolutions this year.

1. Make a plan to keep your resolutions by setting out goals, time-frames and breaking down goals into measurable steps. This will help you to stay realistic and avoid setting yourself up for failure.

2. Focus on positive goals instead of negative goals. A positive goal is something you want to achieve, like running a marathon, while a negative goal is something you want to stop doing like smoking or biting your nails. By focusing on positive goals you will develop good habits which will eventually nudge out the bad.

3. Be realistic about your resolutions and do action steps to make them happen. It is not simply enough to say you want to lose weight, you actually need to remove junk food from the home and stop going to KFC. If you want to get fit, make dates in your calendar to exercise.

4. Hold yourself accountable by announcing your plans to friends and family or on social media. This will help you to avoid failure as you will have others cheering you on. You can also hire a nutritionist and trainer to keep you on track if your goals include losing weight or exercising.

5. Try to accomplish one resolution at a time instead of overwhelming yourself with a whole lot at once, and reward yourself when you have accomplished a goal or a task. This might be buying yourself a new outfit when you have lost a certain amount of weight, or using the money you have saved on cigarettes to buy yourself a gift.

Be kind to yourself and understand that changing behaviour is hard but it is ultimately very worth it.