Each new year is a chance to start fresh and live healthier. But often it’s unclear how to do so. Sometimes it’s not as simple as just working out more or eating healthier — it can take examining what you’ve been doing in your daily life and planning the sort of improvements you’d like to make. But other times it is exactly that simple — go for a run, eat fewer calories. Living healthier is relative to each person and regardless of how simple or complicated your process proves to be, 2019 is right around the corner and now is a great time to start thinking about how you’re going to improve your health in the new year. To help get you started, here are some tips to start the year off living healthier.

Start Small, End Big

According to Psychology Today, it’s crucial to have goals both big and small. We need both, and generally speaking, small goals feed into bigger ones. In fact, research from the Stanford Graduate School of Business suggests just that — it’s better to focus on small steps that lead to bigger goals.

It’s easy to say you want to make big changes in your lifestyle, but nobody can go run a marathon before they have run a mile. One of the surest ways to fail in your pursuit of living healthier is to set lofty goals without smaller goals to help you achieve them. If you want to lose 50 pounds, break that goal down into smaller milestones — five or 10 pounds a month. If you want to run that marathon, maybe aim for a 5k or half marathon first.

Reward Yourself

The Harvard Business Review says that even small rewards can motivate people to push themselves to do more. This is a great concept to apply to your pursuit of living healthier. Did you do an extra set of squats at the gym? Give yourself a little treat to eat.

It doesn’t matter how big or small your achievement is, sometimes you just need to reward yourself.

Have you lost 20 pounds towards your goal weight? Buy yourself a new device or go out to the movies. It doesn’t matter how big or small your achievement is, sometimes you just need to reward yourself. This will keep you motivated and ensure you aren’t using up all of that self control you have been relying on to meet your goals.

Try Something New

According to Harvard Medical School, mental stimulation and physical exercise are great ways to keep your brain youthful. So why not combine the two? Exercise and keep your brain engaged in the process. If you’re trying to exercise more, make sure that includes new and interesting modes of fitness. Find a new trail to hike or try some Olympic weightlifting. And the same goes for eating healthy — try something new. Studies show that willpower is a limited resource, so eating plain chicken breasts and veggies every day could deplete your willpower and ruin your aspirations of healthy living.

Personalize Your Goals

Last year a study of 2,000 people looking to improve their health starting in 2018 showed that nearly 45% of them gave up within a month. There a numerous reasons why people give up on their goals, and not personalizing goals is almost certainly one of them.

2019 is going to be full of people posting on social media about their New Year’s Resolutions and many progress photos along the way. But these people aren’t you. This is not to say that you can’t or shouldn’t be like them and take your social media friends and followers along for the ride with you, but you should make the experience unique to yourself. In other words, don’t copy what you see someone else doing. You can use them as a template, sure, but we’re all different — we have different bodies, different goals, and different ways of achieving them. If you want to bench press 315 pounds, find your own way to that goal, don’t just mimic what some guy is doing on Instagram. Chances are that guy is vastly different than you.

Timing Isn’t Everything

According to an article published by The New York Times, “Time-bound” goals are vital to success. This means you should be the one to set the pace and start date for your healthy living plan, but you should do so realistically.

It’s common for people to put pressure on you to live healthier as soon as you wake up on January 1st. But they don’t get to make the rules, you do. If you’re not ready on the first day of the year, then set a date and start when you’re comfortable. But make sure you stick to your start date. There’s a difference between not being ready because you have other obligations or haven’t done all the planning necessary and not being ready because you’re just procrastinating. If you haven’t bought a gym membership yet, that’s not a good reason — go do some body weight exercises and get the gym membership later.

Conclusion

One of the biggest keys to living healthier in 2019 is going to be knowing yourself and being brutally honest. What has gotten in your way in previous years? How are you going to use that knowledge to improve your lifestyle in 2019? That can be both incredibly complicated or amazingly simple depending on your answers. Regardless, use the aforementioned tips to help yourself ease into the process of living healthier. And if you get stuck at some point along the way, don’t give up, you can always refer back to these tips to keep your momentum moving forward. If you have to start over from scratch that’s fine too, as long as you keep trying.