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John Monterosso, an addiction expert at the University of Southern California, has these six tips for sticking to New Year’s Resolutions.

Failed resolutions are not harmless

Failing feels bad. and knocks our confidence in our ability to do something. Failure can even lead to worse behaviour!

Resolutions work by linking single decisions to a bigger picture

Remember that breaking the resolution for something small can have bigger implication. Instead of thinking What is the harm with this one break, think about the bigger picture: If I give in now, I’ve lost.

Consider being less ambitious when it comes to resolutions

People can be overconfident about their ability to make changes and stick to resolutions. Even when we have failed before, we are still optimistic that this time will be different. This leads to setting unrealistic goals and further failure. It is best to know what you can realistically accomplish.

Make resolutions that are precise, not vague

Be clear and specific in your resolutions, you’ll have more chance of success.

A resolution such as, Be nice to my spouse is too vague, and what constitutes nice can change. Instead, try making a more specific resolution like, I will not raise my voice with my spouse.

The new year is a fresh start

Instead of dwelling on past failures, which leads to a feeling of surrender, remember that January 1 is a new chance to get it right in a new year. The failed resolutions are so last year!

Even successful resolutions can be mistakes

Even if you are successful with your resolutions, people can take them too far. Eating too little, exercising too much, not enjoying your life in order to save money. These kinds resolutions can do more harm than good. Use your judgement to find a balance.