Everyone begins the New Year full of hope, plans, purpose – and a long list of things to do to achieve those plans. Between personal goals like, ‘lose weight’ to ‘learn a new language’, professional goals like, ‘get a promotion’ and ‘be more efficient’, and social goals like, ‘call my in-laws more’ and ‘be more friendly’, what tends to happen is that our minds become cluttered with all the very many things we want to do.

We create To-Do lists that have dozens of items, we become overwhelmed when we see how much we have to do, and that makes us feel guilty when we don’t get everything done.

And where does all that lead? Down a one-way street to discarded resolutions.

By February, most people start to get discouraged, feeling like they will never achieve their goals, but you don’t have to start the year on a negative note! Here are a few steps that will help you keep your resolutions better towards actualizing a more productive year yet!

  • Be practical.

New Year resolutions are not magical wish lists. They must be feasible and achievable. For instance, there is no point planning to become a CEO within the year if you have never taken a management class in your life. It would be more practical to aim to take a management course, look out for management opportunities at work, and slowly build-up to the ultimate goal.

Knowledge of your goal is key, as well as an understanding of what it will take to achieve that goal.

  • Change your patterns.

If you are trying to change something about yourself, the likelihood is that there was something you didn’t like about yourself before. As the saying goes, you cannot continue doing the same things in the same way and expect a different result.

For example, if you were always late to work last year and you want to change that this year, you need to leave home earlier this year! This may mean sleeping early so that you can wake up early. It could mean ironing your clothes the night before so that you’re not looking for what to wear in the morning.

Simple steps like these can go a long way to helping you achieve your goals.

  • Examine your motives.

It is important to check your reasons for wanting to achieve the goals on your list. If you have planned to lose weight in the New Year, but you’re a healthy weight for your height and body shape, it could actually be more dangerous to your health to try to achieve weight loss! On the other hand, if you plan to make more money because all your friends have flashy cars, you may end up doing the wrong things to achieve that goal.

It is easier to keep your resolutions when there is no pressure of comparison, jealousy or trying to fit in.

  • Start now.

Procrastination is the enemy of progress. To quote a saying, ‘do not leave until tomorrow what you can do today.’ That does not only apply to the literal “tomorrow”, it also applies to the next minute; the next hour.

If you plan to eat healthy in the New Year, don’t take another bite of that cupcake. Put it down now! If you plan to be better organised, don’t leave your clothes lying around your room! If you plan to be more proactive at work, don’t leave those emails unread!

There are always opportunities to work toward your goal: don’t delay; start now.

Now tell us, how well have your New Year resolutions been continuously achieved in times past?