The New Year is here and you’re basking in the promise of a fresh start. There’s something magical about this time. A blank slate. Day 1, again. Like many, you’ve probably made some resolutions or have at least thought in passing about changes you want to make in your life. Here are 3 steps you can take to help you stick to your resolutions for good.

1. Don’t ditch, replace!

If you’re trying to quit a bad habit like smoking or drinking soda, don’t just stop cold turkey without deciding on a replacement habit. Here’s the cold, hard truth: there’s a reason for your habit. If you smoke, maybe it’s stress. If you drink soda, maybe it’s because it’s always available and delicious. Regardless of the reason, it exists and your brain is telling you that your habit is meeting the need.

The key is to replace bad habits with good ones so that you are meeting your psychological (and sometimes physical) needs with a healthful activity. First, understand why you have your bad habit, then choose a replacement (gum for smoking, seltzer water for soda, etc.). From there, it’s about sticking with the good over the bad.

2. Baby steps through one at a time

The most life-impacting changes are usually the hardest because they require you to make several different behavioral choices within one single change. Losing weight, for example, isn’t a matter of “just cutting calories”. It also means eating better, exercising more and maybe even trying a new weight loss system (check out M3 by Modere).

Set yourself up for success by creating small behavioral goals each day. If losing weight is at the top of your list, think through your choices with mini resolutions like, “I’m going to take the stairs today and pack a healthy lunch for work”.

You’ll feel a sense of accomplishment when you achieve those two things and that, in turn, will inspire you to keep going. This works much better than a goal like “I’m going to lose 20 pounds” because you are creating a realistic roadmap to weight loss.

3. Listen to yourself

Self-restraint isn’t an unending resource that you just haven’t been able to tap into yet. Will power is, frankly, exhausting. Interestingly, self-control becomes much easier when you care for your body and mind. According to Florida State University researchers, sustaining will power can actually reduce your blood glucose levels, the brain’s primary source of energy.

Instead of denying yourself until you break and eat that whole bag of cookies, listen to your body and mind for clues that your self-discipline is waning.

Pay attention to how you feel, when you’re stressed out and when you’re “so done” with saying no to yourself. Then take action, whether that means drinking a glass of orange juice to get those glucose levels back up or a spur-the-moment movie date to get you out of the house.

How do you plan on keeping your New Year’s resolutions in 2017?

(1) Pinola, Melanie. Top 10 Ways to Break Bad Habits. Lifehacker.
(2) Blood Glucose. Diabetes Health Center. WebMD.