The new year is fulfilled with such promise. We dust off our hopes eager to begin anew our quest to finally cross old goals off our to-do lists. Then, inevitably, hopes begin to fade. It is normal to feel discouraged, but don’t give up. These tips will help you stay on track no matter how many times you’ve given up in the past.

Think small
The biggest challenge with resolutions is our plans are often too grand. It just isn’t realistic to say I’m going to cut out all junk food and exercise every day. Instead plan for small changes you can realistically commit to and add to. For example:

Instead of saying you will cut out all junk food you might commit to 3 servings of fruits and vegetables every day in January. Increase that number to four in February and so on. The addition of good for you food will naturally lead you to reduce your intake of not so good for you food. No deprivation or self-torture required.

Accept defeat
If you set a goal and miss your mark, rework rather than give up the goal. Failure is a normal part of every life. Your job is to figure out what went wrong and to choose to begin again…as many times as you need to. Skip punishing yourself with negative self-talk and choose compassion instead. Celebrate yourself for recognizing the need for change and encourage yourself to keep working on a plan that makes change possible. For example:

Instead of beating yourself for not making it to the gym 5 days a week review your calendar for a more realistic schedule. Maybe instead of 5 days you can make it one morning and one evening and then workout at home on one other day.

Set up some accountability
Decide on a measurable, attainable goal you can achieve in two weeks. Share your goal with an accountability buddy so you can get some encouragement and celebrate your success with someone who knows why the goal is important to you. If you don’t reach the goal, tweak it and try again. When you do reach the goal, set the bar a bit higher and give yourself four weeks this time.

Know your limits and your why
When you have a compelling reason for why you want to accomplish your resolution the how is often easier. For example, maybe you want to improve your blood pressure or cholesterol. Maybe you want to have more physical energy so you enjoy your life and family more. Pick only one resolution so you don’t feel overwhelmed. As you decide on your resolutions – commit only to one that deeply matters to you and do your best. Remind yourself of why you decided on the resolution whenever you feel discouraged.

Monitor self-talk
If you have fallen short of your resolutions in the past that little voice in your head may feel like it has the right to torment you. It doesn’t. You can trust yourself to keep whatever promises you make – even if it takes longer than you planned. Adopting new habits is challenging for everyone. Failing does not make you a failure. Remind yourself that everyone has fallen short at one time or another, and everyone can choose to try again. Including you.

New Year’s resolutions put us in touch with those places in our lives where we’d like to shake things up a bit. Use this time to get curious about what meaningful change will look like and feel like to you. Once you know why you want it (whatever it is) and how to plan for it in your life nothing can stop you. Happy New Year.