Have you set yourself up with a lofty New Year's Resolution to only find yourself giving up after a couple of weeks?

Maybe it's "dry January," and you want to cut out the booze for a daunting 30 days. Or maybe you decided to get that gym membership and work out every day. What about cutting out sodas, or not eating any sugar?

Woman stepping on bathroom scale, low section, Close-up of foot

A lot of the time we are setting ourselves up for failure instead of setting ourselves up for progress.

Today a friend and I came up with a plan for our 2024 New Year's Resolutions. We're calling it "Low-Stakes" New Year's resolutions.


How do low-stakes resolutions work?

Take a goal that you have and put it into an achievable, monthly goal. We don't have to do 12 months out of the year right away. Let's just get through the first month. For example, my goal is to cut back on drinking alcohol. I've done Dry January's before, but let's be honest. One month of going booze-free is good for you, but if you go right back to your old habits does that really do anything long-term? Instead, this year my resolution is to have more sober days than days I have drinks. That's something sustainable I can do for not only the first month but also subsequent months. It helps break the routine we fall into. So out of a 30 day period, I want to make sure I'm sober for at least 16 of those days. Pretty low-stakes, but a huge reduction in calories and money spent.

Hand holding cigarette in ashtray
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It's the same strategy I accidentally used to quit smoking.

I was an idiot in college and started smoking cigarettes. It was something we would do when we went out drinking, and then as it often does, it developed into an everyday thing.

I tried quitting over the years, and I finally got to the point where I'd only sneak a cigarette when I was drinking. The two just went so hand in hand together. It was my weakness. Then, one New Year's Eve I was smoking a cigarette right before midnight and I thought, "I'm not going to have one of these tomorrow or the next time I drink."

I made it through the next day, the next week, and then it went on for years. It's just too daunting of a task to say goodbye forever to a bad habit. You just have to say goodbye for today and keep doing it. The hardest part of quitting something isn't giving it up, it's not picking it back up again.

It doesn't even have to be that drastic of a resolution.

Here's some other easy attainable resolutions to get you started in the right direction:

  • Drink more water
  • exercise more than you did last year
  • start journaling
  • try a new healthy meal once a week
  • plan at least one date night a month with your spouse
  • read a book in January

Once you achieve your first resolution, keep going. If you end up finishing 2024 in a better spot than 2023, it's progress!

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