I hope you slept over January 21st. If you haven’t, then you are probably in the great majority of those who watched their New Year’s resolutions collapse and end up on the shelf called “Failure.” Soon, dust will fall on it, and you will once again be angry at yourself and your weakness. I have good news for you – you and 90% of other people on January 21st realized that this year (again) they will not fulfill their New Year’s resolutions. So, you are not alone, you are not even a minority, and therefore – stop punishing yourself. Now is the right time to learn (if you haven’t yet) to be gentle to yourself.

Your only mistake is making New Year’s resolutions before learning how to do it. So, let’s get organized and systematic.

First things first – make a wish list. Write down everything that seems important to you – healthy diet, regular exercise, graduation, change of job or work place, new romantic relationship, new car, good relations with a colleague … all that is important to you at this moment. Then, start from the beginning and consider each item from the perspective of what is important to you. Yes, YOU. What is it that warms your soul? Is college graduation on your list because you or your parents want it? Be honest with yourself and brutally irreconcilable in deleting anything that is not yours. You have to work on your list to fulfill it, no one will do it for you. So, if your labor and effort is yours, and only yours, then a decision is yours and yours only.

Read your reduced list once again, this time thinking not what you need to do, but who you need to be to fulfill the goal(s) and, more importantly, who you will be when you reach it. How will you look, how will you feel, who will you be with, where will you be? Does your heart jump with joy and a feeling of contentment overwhelms you? Will you be at least a little bit better for yourself and for the people around you? Items that have passed this “passion stress” test deserve to remain on the list and be a part of your New Year’s resolutions. Take time to visualize a better version of yourself, because this picture will be your main motivator to endure. This is your “Big Why”. And only when you know “why”, you can solve “how”.

The most common reason for failing to keep up with New Year’s resolutions is biting more than you can swallow. You suddenly decided to change your whole life from the root or to easily adopt a new habit that is diametrically different from what you had been doing. Did you expect to wake up on January 1st as a person who is fit, loves to work out at the gym and runs 10km every day? Really? Maybe so, but only if you were just like that on December 31st. Grandiose expectations lead to grand disappointments. Dream big, fly to the sky, but keep your feet on the ground. It is a good idea to divide each of your goals into smaller parts. The smaller part will require less effort, and it is less likely you will find an excuse not to do it. It is best to look at the goal as a series of small actions, so small that you would feel stupid not to do them. For example, if it is imperative for your dental health to floss every day, place the thread in the toothbrush jar so that every time you brush your teeth, your thread is at your hands as well. Or, if you decide to stop drinking sweet drinks, stop buying one of the beverages every week. For example, in the first week, stop buying Coca Cola, the second week Coca Cola and Fanta, the third week Coca Cola, Fanta and Sprite and so on. When your “challengers” are not at your fingertips, it will be much easier for you to protect yourself from temptation.

A year is too long to maintain your motivation at a high level all the time. Help yourself by celebrating every little success along the way. Every small step in the right direction brings you closer to your goal. For most people, success is the strongest motivator. With every success, no matter how small, say to yourself, “If I did it once, I can do it always.” You may find it useful to keep a journal. You do not have to keep a full diary and describe in detail what and how you did it. Write down a short note of what you achieved on that day. When you feel like your motivation is going down, browse your journal and remind yourself of what you’ve already achieved and how much effort you have already invested. Ask yourself would you let it all go to waste?

Be ready to slip off sometimes. Do not allow yourself to declare one failure as a failure. Reasonably and explicitly acknowledge what had happened and get back on track. Do not ask for a reason beyond learning lesson and do not make an excuse. Simply – accept that it happened, that one failure is not the end of the world and return to your plan to fulfill your goal.

And, most importantly, enjoy yourself! Love what you do, believe in your power to change, and with joy and gratitude welcome the best version of you that is coming.