There’s something about flipping the calendar to a new year that motivates us to improve ourselves. We vow to lose weight, study more, spend less or be a better friend/spouse/parent—all to become upgraded versions of ourselves. But the truth is, 80 percent of new year’s resolutions go by the wayside by February.1

Instead of putting pressure on yourself based on an arbitrary date, here’s another approach to becoming your best you:

    1. Start now. Never mind what the calendar says; decide what you want and start working on it right this minute!
    2. Do what matters to you. This isn’t about impressing your friends or your accounting professor. Focus on what will make you happy.
    3. Keep it simple. Write down everything you want to change, then pick one thing to start with.
    4. Make it manageable. List all the small steps you’ll need to take to reach your goal.
    5. Be realistic. Change doesn’t happen overnight. Every day take a step (or two or three) forward. When you’ve got a few successes under your belt, consider tackling another goal.
    6. Track your progress. You don’t have to obsess over it but writing down your achievements can motivate you to keep going.
    7. Don’t give up. Everybody backslides once in a while. If you do, forgive yourself, recover from your mistake and get back on track.
    8. Ask your family to help. We all do better when we’re accountable to someone, especially when it’s your kids or significant other. Explain what you want to accomplish, why it’s important to you and how they can support you.
    9. Reward yourself. Plan ahead for important milestones and celebrate when you get there. Just be careful not to sabotage yourself, such as overeating after losing a few pounds, or splurging on a big purchase when you reach your savings goal.

With the new year’s burden off the table, you can take control of what you want and make it happen, your way. There’s no time like the present!

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[1] Mulvey, Kelsey, “80% of New Year’s resolutions fail by February — here’s how to keep yours,” Business Insider, January 3, 2017

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