by Rachel Gore

Well, it’s officially the time of year where an influx of people set new goals for themselves. Whether it be to lose weight, save money, learn a new skill, exercise more or go back to school, there’s an endless list of accomplishments people hope to achieve. While setting a goal at all is positive, it’s just the first in a list of steps needed to achieve it—and unfortunately, it’s the step at which many people stop. If that’s been the case for you in the past, consider using these tips to help organize your life and achieve your goals for good this time around:

Start now. Why wait until next week, next month or next year? If you have a goal in mind that you’re determined to achieve, today is the day to start doing it. So many people get into the mindset of starting at some point in the future, when there is no real reason to put it off longer. For example, a lot of people wait to kick-off their weight loss journeys until New Year’s Day because of the food-focused nature of the holiday season. In reality, it’s possible to fully enjoy the delicious meals and sweets offered on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Eve without sabotaging your health goals by indulging for the other 58 days in November and December.

Turn your goal into an actionable plan. The sentence “I want to put more money into my savings account” is a solid starting point, but developing it into a more specific, actionable goal is still a must. Take the time to flesh out the goal and make an action plan on how you’ll achieve it. How much money can you put aside per paycheck? Which of your current expenses are absolutely necessary, and which can be cut? Are you actually willing to give up the morning coffee you get before work, or is it unrealistic to expect you won’t cave? Changing your vague goal of “saving money” to something like “I want to save $200 every time I get paid for the next six months” makes it attainable, actionable and gives you a tangible number to work with.

Make to-do lists. By using to-do-lists to help you reach your goal, you can prioritize what needs to be done on a daily basis. Instead of overwhelming yourself with 15 things to do in a single day, circle the top three to five items you need to get done. Try to include at least one item that will directly help you reach your goal. If you are determined to dedicate more time to yourself, add a non-negotiable 20 minutes to the end of the day to do something you love. If you hope to stop eating out for lunch every day, add grocery shopping and meal prepping to the top of your Sunday “to-dos.”

Hold yourself accountable by involving another person. It’s easy to convince yourself that you can’t work toward your goal today. Maybe you’re training for a 5K and when you wake up to run before work it’s raining out…or you’re tired…or you decide to make up for not running by exercising even harder tomorrow…so you press snooze and go back to sleep. With another person around to keep you accountable—like a friend who wants to run the 5K with you—these excuses are less likely to hold up. The added pressure of knowing someone else is depending on you to show up might be just the motivation you need to finally stop pressing snooze, drag yourself out of bed and get moving.

Celebrate your successes. Lastly, don’t forget to reward yourself for your successes, big and small. Did you finally put $1,000 into savings? Did you stop pressing snooze and run four days in a row? Did you take enough time for yourself to finish a book that’s been collecting dust on a shelf for months? Your reward can be as small as giving yourself a metaphorical (or literal) pat on the back to doing something special like going out to a nice dinner with a significant other or friends. Ultimately, you should be proud of yourself for sticking with your goal and for the hard work that you’ve done to achieve it.