Only 8% of people achieve their New Year's resolutions

Only 8% of people achieve their New Year's resolutions

Learn how to make a resolution and keep it in 2017.

Almost fifty percent of Americans make a New Year's resolution, yet only eight percent achieve their goals, according to a study from the University of Scranton. Losing weight is the top resolution, followed by getting organized and reducing debt.

While these are all great goals, it’s often impossible to maintain our willpower by February. So does that mean we should abandon the notion of a New Year's resolution? Not so fast.

Often, the problem is that our grand expectations can suddenly feel unachievable.  In such cases, consider exchanging big goals for small, easily tracked commitments that address behavioral changes and take things one day at a time.  In addition, research shows that willpower is not a stable trait. It actually takes a lot of mental energy to break bad habits, and that same mental energy is depleted by every day demands. So it’s important to replenish our mental energy by reducing stress, making sure we have positive reinforcements in place, and being kind to ourselves when we slip so we are better able to maintain our willpower.

With a little preparation and planning, you can offer yourself further incentive to stick with your goals and even enjoy the change of pace. Some examples include:

-keep a water bottle in your car, and drink on your drive into work.

-download a mix of your favorite songs and use it as a soundtrack for your daily goal of walking for 30 minutes.

-indulge in a favorite hobby (knitting, reading, adult coloring books) to keep your mind and hands busy as you commit to stop snacking after 8 p.m.

-use apps on your smart phone to help track your progress on goals

Even the smallest tweak in your day-to-day life can make a long term difference to your health. Is soda your favorite source of hydration? Experts have linked the daily consumption of sugary drinks not only to obesity but also to heart disease and type 2 diabetes.  So perhaps giving up soda on weekdays is the goal for you.  Try experimenting with water infused with fresh, natural flavors, like strawberries, lemon, mint or cucumber.

If you fall short from time to time, brush it off and start fresh the next day.

"Consider enlisting friends or family members, who are also committed to making positive changes, and make a fun challenge of your goals," said Lori Phelps, PhD. ""No matter what your goal, be forgiving of yourself if you stumble, and then just focus on the next step forward."