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Should you ditch the New Year's resolution this year? One Cleveland Clinic expert weighs in!

Cleveland Clinic psychologist, Dr. Susan Albers says after the year we've had, we shouldn't be adding the stress of lofty resolution goals.

CLEVELAND — To make a resolution or not, that’s on the minds of many as a new year has the potential promise of a new you. However, one psychologist says this may not really be the time to try and transform yourself.

“Every year people make New Year’s resolutions and about 80% of those go by the wayside by mid-February,” says Dr. Susan Albers, a psychologist at the Cleveland Clinic.

New Year’s resolutions are a yearly tradition, people ask themselves what they want to change and set a goal to do that in the new year. One of the most popular resolutions each year, is weight loss.

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“Recently, we’ve just been getting ready for the New Year because we know there’s going to be a spike in attendance with our members and new members,” says Mike Soster, owner of Functions of Life gym in Broadview Heights. He’s owned the fitness center for 8 years and says they always see a January jump in memberships and attendance, but it’s their job to make it stick.

Soster says, “It’s our job to keep them motivated throughout this whole process and then hopefully, the rest of the year. The higher amount of people coming in just gives us more of an opportunity to give them what they need.”

However, when it comes to 2021 goals and resolutions, whether it’s weight loss, ditching bad habits or anything in between, Dr. Albers says this isn’t the time for the added stress of lofty resolutions.

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“This has been a very hard year for people and often when we make significant or extreme behavior changes, that adds a lot of pressure and stress,” says Albers. “That raises our cortisol level.”

If you still want to make a resolution for 2021, Dr. Albers says to focus on realistic, small tweaks instead of high aspirational goals. She adds to be flexible and think day to day.

“When we think too far into the future, that raises our anxiety,” says Albers. “Instead, focus on the process goal. These are things that you can write down and do every day that you do have control over that’s going to lead to that outcome goal. Just make sure to make your mental health a priority this year. Put that on the resolution list of something you can do to take care of yourself.”

If your 2021 daily goals or resolution does include hitting a gym, Soster says to make sure you book things early. Due to Covid-19 protocols limiting gathering size and the higher demand expected, fitness centers and classes will fill up quickly.

Editor's note: the video in the player above is from a story published on December 28, 2020: