Like most people, I’ve made plenty of New Year’s resolutions. Most of them start off with the best of intentions but fail right around January 2nd. But some of them work out really well – I stick to them, and they become a catalyst for a positive change in my life.

 

Why do some resolutions work and not others? It’s not about willpower – it’s about how these resolutions are structured. So many “improvement” resolutions have to do with giving something up – cigarettes, alcohol, sitting on the couch watching too much TV… Big goals, and worthy too. But vague, and almost impossible.

 

Any resolution I’ve succeeded at has been about adding something positive and doable to my life, rather than ‘giving up’ something bad. And the effects have been lasting and good.

 

How does this work in real life? One year I wanted to give up sugar – I have a wicked sweet tooth. So I looked at all the ways to give it up, how bad it is for me, etc. But really? “Giving up sugar” is such a huge challenge! So after looking at all the techniques to give up sugar, could I find one helpful, truly doable habit to add to my life?

 

As it turned out, I decided that I would eat breakfast – a non-sugary, nutritious breakfast – every day. And you know what? I did – almost every day. And starting my days with real nutrition rather a handful of M&M’s changed the energy of those days, and the overall quality of my thinking, for the better. My skin looked better too. Did I “give up sugar?” No, but there was and still is a real improvement in my habits and in my life.

 

I have since learned that this is also known amongst more organized circles as a SMART goal:

Specific
Measurable
Attainable
Realistic
Timely

 

Creating SMART goals builds in the probability of success. And adding good things to our lives means that even halfway there is getting somewhere good. So when we talk about beauty resolutions, can we take up a good habit as a step to banishing a bad one?

 

Examples:
Apply sunscreen every morning.
Try a new beauty superfood recipe once a week.
Exercise 1x more a week than before.
Take skin vitamins with breakfast.
Commit to a once-a-week deep cleanse.
Take three deep breaths when stress hits.

 

You can see how these would be easier to implement than “stop tanning”, “quit smoking”, “eat healthier”, or “get in shape and lose ten pounds”.

 

As for 2013, I’ll be trying a new superfoods recipe once a week. What’s your beauty resolution for new year?

 

–Illustration by Elisa Jimenez for Wild Beauty.