The 7-Step Guide To Following Through With Your New Year's Resolutions

by Gillian Watts

It's that time of year again.

The Facebook statuses that say, "New Year, New Me" will begin pouring in. and we will all roll our eyes.

We're reflecting on the past year and looking forward to the next.

It has become somewhat of a tradition to make New Year's resolutions as we plan for the year ahead.

However, most of us abandon these goals before we even take down our Christmas lights.

For a lot of people, it doesn't really matter.

Making the resolutions and talking about them with others is simply just a routine that we have never had the intention of following through on.

But for those of us who want to make positive changes in the new year, here are seven ways to better the chances of following through:

1. Write it down.

And no, I don't mean on social media. I mean get a notebook and write out your resolutions.

Putting in the effort to actually write down your goals makes them more official.

It's also something you'll be able to physically hold and review.

2. Make a plan.

Don't just write down the resolutions themselves; have a plan of action.

If you want to quit smoking, make a list of possible treatment plans or set up an appointment with your physician.

If you want to lose weight, make a gym schedule and meal plan.

Be sure to know the steps you need to take and how you'll work them into your lifestyle (or alter your lifestyle to meet the goals.)

3. Visibility is key.

Once you've got a list and you have a game plan, make sure it's part of your day.

Post it somewhere you'll see it often, so you can be reminded to stay on track.

Perhaps you can keep it on your mirror or by the door.

Maybe even carry it around in a day planner or your wallet.

4. Be realistic.

This is twofold. Make sure your goals are reasonable.

Don't say, "I'm going to lose 200 pounds this year!" because even though it's not impossible, it's unlikely.

And the goal itself is very intimidating. There's very little to look forward to and little pay off.

Set attainable goals.

Perhaps instead of, "I will be debt free by the end of the year," decide that you'll work to get your credit cards or your student loans paid off.

The other part of the puzzle is that your plans have to be possible.

You cannot plan to go to the gym twice a day, every day if you work full time, volunteer and have a relationship.

These goals cannot take over your whole life, or there's no way you'll be able to stay committed.

Maybe instead of planning to devote 50 percent of your income to paying back debt, you could cut back the number of times you go out in a month or resolve to not by any new outfits for a while and devote that cash to the payments.

5. Stay accountable.

Involve your family and friends.

There's no shame in self-improvement, and getting others involved will help you stay on track.

They'll be able to encourage you and celebrate your successes with you.

It can be as simple as just telling a friend you can trust what you're planning and asking him or her to stay in touch with you about it.

Or, you could even get together with a group of friends who have similar goals and work together.

6. Don't stop there.

It's very rewarding to meet your goals, so take it a step further and build on you resolutions.

If you resolved to spend less cash on things you don't need, and you are succeeding and have extra cash, resolve to open a savings account or donate to charity with the extra money you have.

If you resolved to go to the gym more so you can get healthier, you could try signing up for a special fitness class.

7. Don't wait.

Along with building on your goals and pushing yourself further, remember it doesn't have to be New Year's to resolve to improve your life.

If you have an idea on how to become happier, healthier or just a better you, start today.