treadmills
People run on treadmills at a New York Sports Club Jan. 2, 2003 in Brooklyn, New York. Spencer Platt/Getty Images

The New Year represents a clean slate. And while not much truly changes on midnight Sunday when 2016 switches over to 2017, it does provide a good excuse to make improvements to ourselves that we've long wanted to make. That's led to the tradition of making New Year's resolutions.

But beware: resolutions are tough to keep. Some 40 percent of Americans make New Year's resolutions and just eight percent keep them, Forbes reported in 2013. But if you're realistic and develop a plan, a resolution can be a great way to make a big life change. Here are five quick ideas for those who are stumped for a good resolution.

1. Eat healthier

A lot of folks set concrete, weight-loss related goals for their resolutions. That's all well-and-good, but that's a long-term goal that often leads to folks quitting early on. "Firstly, the definition of 'get fit and stay healthy' should not equate to pounds lost or marathons run," wrote Dr. Elaine Cox for U.S. News and World Report. "Interim improvements are extremely valid and more likely to lead to long-term success than an epic failure out of the gate."

Making small but substantive changes to your diet is a good step in the right direction. For tips, check out this handy list from International Business Times.

2. Be kind

This should be easy, but it doesn't always feel that way. Research shows that being kind makes you happy and vice versa. So being kind to others, or doing kind acts for others, is a simple yet effective way to dramatically improve your life.

3. Try something new

Again, this is easy, but effective. Maybe it's a type of food you've been reluctant to try or finally going skydiving, but giving something new a chance can be a great way to spark change. And, who knows, you might discover a new favorite cuisine or a fun hobby along the way.

4. Volunteer

It doesn't cost money, it doesn't take tremendous will-power, it just takes time. Plus, it's a kind act that will likely make you feel happy.

5. Take time for yourself

Fifty-five percent of Americans don't use all of their vacation days, leaving some 658 million vacation days unused. Don't run yourself ragged in 2017, take care of yourself, so when it's time to get things you done, you're doing them at 100 percent of your abilities. Taking a vacation has been proven to help increase productivity, lessen the risk of heart disease, reduce stress and improve sleep.

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