The New Year’s resolution dates all the way back to ancient times. The ancient Romans would vow to Janus, the two-faced god of beginnings and endings and transitions for whom the month of January is named, to conduct themselves honorably in the coming year. The tradition has withstood the test of time, with many of us still making resolutions to this very day. While you might not make a vow to an ancient deity, the new year is an excellent time to assess your wellness and make goals to improve it. Whether your goal is to stop smoking, lose weight, or drink less alcohol, there are several things you can do to make sure you are set up for success.

According to a survey conducted by Strava, a social network for fitness-minded individuals, January 12th is the fateful day on which most of us abandon our New Year’s resolutions. Whether life gets in the way and we forget about them, or we don’t see immediate results and get discouraged, less than two weeks of commitment is certainly not a very long time to take a swing at a new goal. Especially not when the average time it takes to build a new habit is 66 days, according to a study by University College London.

So why do we tend to give up so quickly? The most simple answer is that we lack a solid plan for keeping our goals. Sometimes our goals are over-complicated and we get caught up in the big picture and get overwhelmed. We see the masterpiece of the end result of our goal without being sure where to make the first brush stroke. We forget that every painting starts as a blank canvas. The fact is, even if you want to keep your goal more than anything, you will need a plan of action. Here are seven tips to help keep yourself going strong throughout the year.

1.Keep It Simple

While running a marathon may be an achievable goal for someone who has already been working toward it, it might be a much more difficult goal to meet for someone who is just beginning their fitness journey. Don’t make a goal that will be too overwhelming or complicated. Rather than saying something like, “This year I will fully reverse all of my unhealthy habits,” try for something more realistic, such as, “This year, I will go to the gym three times a week.” A simpler goal is easier to visualize and achieve and will help keep you from getting overwhelmed.

2.Make a Plan

In a resolution journal, outline a plan for the year. Mark what your daily goal is, followed by a weekly and monthly goal. If you want to be able to run a 5k by the end of the year, try setting a weekly goal of jogging a half-mile, then a mile, and so on until you feel satisfied with your progress. Putting your goal into a scheduled format will give you a clear picture of what you should be doing on a given day.

3.Have a Support System

Telling friends and family members about your goals can help keep you accountable and give you someone to talk to when you might be feeling discouraged. Having buddies who might have the same goals as you is a great way to keep yourself on track. Who knows? Maybe you’ll even strengthen a relationship along the way.

4.Set Small Goals

Baby steps are key. Setting small goals that lead to a larger goal help to give you little wins to celebrate along the way. If your goal is to lose 30 pounds, set a milestone goal of 5 pounds at a time. This makes the big goal seem much more attainable and gives you some much needed wins along the way. 

5.Track Your Progress

In a journal or app, keep track of your weekly progress. Tracking something in a place where you can see it can help remind you of how far you have some and make your progress seem more tangible. Many fitness apps feature weight loss graphs that help users visualize their journey, which can be a great motivator. Be sure to mark when you hit a milestone!

6. Don’t Be Too Hard on Yourself

Slip ups are inevitable. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you are a screw up. You aren’t. You’re a human being doing your very best. Remind yourself that you are not your mistakes and promise yourself to do better. Rome was not built in a day. Remind yourself that one mistake will not ruin your resolution. 

7. Reward Yourself

Reward yourself when you meet your milestones. You deserve it! If you lose ten pounds, reward yourself with a new item of clothing. If you go two weeks without smoking, take yourself out for a movie date. Just be sure that your reward is not something that will undo your progress, no matter how tempting that may be.

New Year’s resolutions are nothing new. Sometimes it can be difficult to see the forest through the trees, especially when it comes to health related goals. We can easily lose ourselves in the minutiae of life and lose sight of where we are going or why we even made our goals to begin with, but you don’t have to resign yourself to failure. Even though a yearly resolution can feel daunting, there are ways to improve your odds at keeping your resolutions. Keeping a healthy goal is a great way to build self-esteem and strengthen your relationship with yourself. Even if you stumble along the way, you can always try again. Don’t let the success of others discourage you; in fact, look to them for inspiration! Your success or failure does not hinge on anyone but yourself. A healthier you is attainable, you just have to remember that it will take time and effort. 

Not only is it a new year, but an entirely new decade. Start it off strong by sticking to your resolutions and make the next decade count!