The New Year brings a lot of time to reflect. Like most of us, you probably spent a lot of time looking back over the past year and taking stock of what you accomplished and what you had hoped to accomplish, but never quite got around to it. You may have also wondered where all that time and money went. This can be a difficult internal discussion as it is easy to focus on what you wanted to do better and then pledge to make the (often dreaded) New Year’s Resolutions.

Good advice is to skip the fluffy resolutions; the ones that are easy to try and even easier to quit. A good resolution is a tangible goal with measurable outcomes and an admission that failure is completely possible and acceptable. But, a good goal can create some benefit or advantage even in the wake of so-called ‘failure.’

1. Ditch The New Year’s Resolutions.

The myth of the New Year’s Resolution is now over-commercialized with fitness companies waiting for you to spend money on “losing weight this way” or “trying this fast and easy trick to long life.” Get rid of the concept that a good goal has to be at the New Year. A good goal can start right now, a week from now, or whenever you are ready.

2. Prepare First By Knowing Your Weaknesses

An attainable goal first starts with understanding the potential impacts on the progress towards those goals. Identifying your weaknesses allows you to spot where your progress might be hindered. What weaknesses have particularly affected your normal daily routines? What daily routines take up so much time that they damage or hinder your other daily activities? Naturally, is there a night that you eat or drink so much that your next day is ruined? These kinds of weaknesses are behaviors that can keep you from reaching your goals. Identifying these weaknesses is the first step towards preparation. The next step is to develop methods to avoid or eliminate these behaviors.

3. Distance, Time, and Exposure

Weaknesses disguised as behaviors can be deceptive. You might not know how they impact your progress towards your goals. So it is important to take these 3 considerations. 1) Distance is the process of putting as much emotional, physical, or financial distance that is reasonable between you and your weaknesses. If your behavior of drinking too much is biting into your goals, can you take a different route home so you do not walk or travel past that bar? If you eat too much, is there a way you can budget or limit your money spent on food each day? If you do not feel like exercising right, can you find an emotional motivator to get you moving? 2) Time is the same thing. How can you limit the amount of time that you are near the weaknesses? 3) And limiting exposure means avoiding the media, messages, or ability to access the means towards those weaknesses. Build methods, actions, and functions into your daily habits to innovate your way towards progress to your goals.

4. Identify Measurable Progress Towards Your Goals

Binary goals are dangerous. “I am going to lose 20 pounds” is not the kind of resolution that has good progress. Build your end goal up with small goals that indicate progress. Use a timeline. “I am going to lose 20 pounds in about 6 months” is a better example of a measurable goal, because you can take a certain time period to measure your progress and adjust accordingly. Each month you can track your progress and activity and maybe even alter your end goal because of the progress! Give your goals and progress a numerical, quantitative structure, and make sure that it is realistic and comparable with others goals.

5. Surround Yourself With A Good Support System

Respect, accountability, and positive support are psychologically important towards the well-being of an individual. Goals can improve your well-being, but keeping good counsel is beneficial towards that progress. Share your progress with people who have goals similar to yours. They can help to hold you accountable and might even work with you! This is important because including people in the process helps to make your goal-reaching more fun. Next, your support system should include paid professionals who can provide solid advice. Paying them is important because once you put money into it, you are more likely to follow through and it represents an investment.

There are a lot of ways to develop a strategy towards reaching your goals. Take these into account and use them to build your new healthy lifestyle, not just a temporary resolution!