Harvard Health Letter

How to keep those New Year's resolutions

Psychologists have identified successful ways of meeting self-determined goals, but they may not work if you're a perfectionist.

It's hard to take New Year's resolutions too seriously. We know they are more often breached than observed, so we make them, ironically, half-heartedly — or not at all. They epitomize "easier said than done."

Yet there is a meaty side to resolutions, which at other times of the year we simply call setting goals for ourselves. Many such goals are related to health. Getting more exercise, losing weight, quitting smoking — they perennially top the to-do lists. Much more than vanity is at stake. Study after study shows that almost anything that helps people make progress in those areas does wonders for their health.

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