You’ve heard it before, and maybe you even know from your own experience in the past. Setting unrealistic New Year’s resolutions can lead to stress, feelings of failure and anxiety — all because you’re setting yourself up for failure from day 1 of the new year. One of your top goals to start every year should be prioritizing your own mental health, so with that in mind, let’s explore how you can set realistic New Year’s goals, rather than unrealistic, and oftentimes unreasonable, New Year’s resolutions.

1. Make your goal achievable. Avoid resolutions and goals that sound great, but are actually unattainable at this particular point in your life. For example, if you’ve never run a day in your life, maybe placing in the Chicago marathon is not the right goal for you. Why not set out to run a 5k, or join a new exercise class you’ve been considering?

2. Set yourself up for success. If your goal is to spend less time on social media, keep your phone out of reach first thing in the morning, rather than keeping it on your bedside table to taunt you. If you want to work on getting to bed earlier during the week, start your nighttime routine earlier and set a bedtime alert on your phone — and save the Netflix marathon for the weekend. If you want to limit sweets, don’t stock up in the house where you’ll be tempted, and save the dessert for special occasions or rewards.

3. Be patient with yourself. We all make mistakes, and that doesn’t mean you should throw your goal out and give up. If you backslide on some goals, forgive yourself and try again.

4. Share your goals. Sometimes we just need someone else to help us stay accountable — find someone who will help you stay on track, and help them in return, too. Whether it’s your spouse, your kids, a coworker or a friend, sharing your goals can help you stay motivated.

While you’re setting goals for 2023, don’t ignore your own well-being. Taking care of your mind and body is always a great way to start (& finish!) your year.

Setting realistic New Year’s goals