It’s January, and if you’re like the vast majority of people in the country you’ve set some sort of goals for improving your life somehow this year. More than 75% of New Years’ resolutions have something to do with getting healthier, whether it’s to quit smoking, exercise more, or lose weight. But according to Carolyn Gregoire with the Huffington Post, only 8% of people actually keep their New Year’s resolutions.

There are three reasons that this happens. First, they set goals that are too high and can’t realistically be reached. If you’ve never played a guitar before and you set a goal to get a record contract and become an international superstar playing guitar, you might want to lower the bar a bit. Maybe just learn to play a song or two first.

The second reason people don’t reach their goals is that they never lay out a plan for reaching them. If you decide you’re going to travel to New York City from San Diego, you’ll want to make some plans: set your budget, map out your route, decide where you’ll stay when you stop, and so on. If you just walk out your front door with no packing and no planning, there’s a possibility that you’ll eventually end up in the Big Apple, but it won’t be a fast or a pleasant trip, and you could just as easily end up in Minnesota.

The third and final reason that most people don’t stick to their resolutions goes hand in hand with the first and the second – they don’t have a realistic plan to start slowly and work diligently to get better. In other words, start with small changes. For instance, if your goal is to eat a healthier diet, you shouldn’t give up all sugar, alcohol, and carbs one day one and immediately become a vegetarian overnight. Chances are you’ll fail, because it’s too big of a change too quickly.

Instead, cut out that bowl of ice cream at night to start. Or have 2 beers instead of three. Or add a vegetable to your meal once a day. Small changes. Then when you’ve succeeded in the first step, add another one. Add vegetables twice a day. Cut out the beer all but on Friday nights. Add 10 push-ups a couple times a week. Then go to 15. Then 25. You get the picture, small changes.

Small changes, one after another, are the key to success. No one goes from a couch potato to a marathon runner in a week. It takes time, a plan, and persistence to effect real and positive changes in your life, but they can happen. Just don’t try to jump from zero to step 10. You’ve got to go through the other 9 steps first. Each one gets you closer to your goal. And even though each step is harder in theory, they actually become easier when you do it the right way. Because with each new step you tackle, you’ll have a string of victories behind you that give you hope and confidence that you can do it.

The worst resolution you could make is to give up coming to Win-River. Things are better here. So to help you out (if your resolution is eating healthier, that is), we’ve added some small changes of our own by including some healthier options in our Elements restaurant. You can check out the Win-Fit menu items here.

Good luck! You can do it!

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