by Sarah Buron

There is something so fresh and exciting about a new year, right? A clean slate can feel so empowering and establishing new routines can invigorate us. On the other hand, more than half of all resolutions fail because they are much easier to make than to keep. It is all about laying the groundwork to achieve your goals successfully.

Start now. It can be tempting to wait until the magical January 1st to work on goals, but why not start now? With a little planning and preparation, you can be that much closer to your goal before 2021 even arrives. Once you know what you want to accomplish, make sure to determine and write down the when, where and why of your vision. An action plan puts you on the right path to achieving your goals. Write it down and have it visible in your car, office and home as a constant reminder of what you are looking to achieve.

Start small. Taking on too much is a reason why so many resolutions fail. Try choosing just one goal and focusing your energy on that rather than spreading yourself too thin among a number of goals. Make sure the goal is realistic because taking on too much at once can be daunting. Focusing your efforts on that one goal makes keeping your resolution more achievable and will boost your belief in yourself to take on another goal from there. Giving yourself the ability to meet your goal in small steps can help you avoid getting discouraged along the way.

Define your goal and be realistic. Develop a time frame for your goal, with smaller goals to achieve along the way. Let’s use exercise as an example. If you are just starting out, do not set a goal of working out for one hour every day. Instead, set a goal of three days a week and make it a non-negotiable. From there, you will have the confidence to move forward and set another exercise related goal without becoming burned out.

Be kind to yourself. We seem to talk to ourselves harsher than we would ever talk to other people. If you feel discouraged along the way, encourage yourself and reinforce positive thinking. It can be challenging to make changes in your life, but focusing on the negative will not help. Try to continually remind yourself of the benefits and impact of reaching these goals in your life. Focusing on that will help you stick to it.

Find a community. It is always helpful to have a workout buddy or someone with a common goal to check in with and help stay accountable. Let one or two people know about the goal you set. If you ask them to help hold you responsible, it puts the pressure on (in a good way) to see it through and succeed. Alternatively, you can look for online support groups full of people looking to reach similar goals.

Do it for you and only you. How many times have you made a resolution to lose weight or eat better? Instead of selecting a generic resolution, make it specific to you and something that will genuinely benefit your life. Rather than strenuous exercise, would meditation or yoga be more beneficial to you? Rather than adding another thing to your plate, is there something you could eliminate instead that would lead to more happiness?

Tomorrow is a new day. Perfection is unattainable. The biggest problem that seems to occur with resolutions is that once people get in their heads that they have “failed,” they give up and throw in the towel. Rather than looking at it as a failure, look at it instead as learning and growing. Minor missteps while working on reaching your goals are completely normal. Tomorrow is another opportunity to get it right!