With the beginning of each new year, we are often compelled to use this opportunity to change certain things that we haven’t been able to do in the past. Whether it be encouraging a healthy lifestyle, switching career paths or entering a new relationship, these promises to ourselves are hard to make, but even harder to keep.

As we wave goodbye to 2016 this Saturday night, we will think about the things we want to change and the new chapters we’d like to begin in the new year. If you have an idea of what you would like your 2017 to look like, we have a few ways to shape your New Year’s Resolutions so they are easier to maintain.

Reflect on the past

This is the step most people always seem to start with. They think about their mistakes and failures, the things they’d like to change about themselves. This is, however, not the only focus point you should use to form your New Year’s Resolutions. Your successes and the changes you went through during 2017 are just as important.

Using the more positive things in conjunction with the negatives to these to create plans and switch things around can help your dreams become clearer and create a path to help you achieve them.

Don’t be generic - think about what YOU need

Asking friends about their resolutions is often the first thing we do as the new year approaches. We may have particular wants and needs in common, so copycatting may occur. This can lead to us choosing generic resolutions when we know something needs to change, but we don’t think about what we as unique individuals need.

While the initial issue may seem to be unnecessary weight gain, the plan to ‘lose x number of kilos’ may not be the aspect you should focus on. Specific ways of changing your lifestyle is what should be thinking about, as well as your daily schedule, likes and dislikes and skill set. Doing a bit of research and not jumping into these changes straight away can make all the difference.

Start small

Many resolutions are end goals and vague descriptions of what they want in life. Of course, end goals are great for vision boards and to create motivation. For resolutions, however, that’s not necessarily the right place to put your focus for just one year, especially if the change is huge.

Baby steps are important when making huge lifestyle changes. When an alcoholic makes the vow to stop drinking, going cold turkey can be difficult and pointless. Cutting down the amount of alcohol they drink over a course of time and seeking encouragement and advice to help them continue this pattern can be more rewarding and comfortable. It takes longer, but it’s more likely to make a difference in the future.

Be logical

You know yourself better than anyone. Are you really going to complete those resolutions you’ve written on that page?

You need to make sure your resolutions are achievable. You have to consider all the factors that may impact your focus on your goals, such as your work schedule, family commitments, will power, financial situation and level of passion and determination. You also need to be realistic about what you need at this stage in your life. It might be keeping a food diary to help change your lifestyle or taking some time for yourself.

Start with a clean slate

With every new year comes the opportunity for a fresh start. This is something most people crave at some point in their lives. Take that precious opportunity and use it to your advantage.

Once you have reflected on the good and the bad things that have happened in your life and have used those to put your resolutions together, it’s time to cast those things aside. It’s time to move forward with an optimistic outlook on life. Don’t dwell on the person you were in the past year. Be ready to let that go and become the person you want to be.   

Start this next year with a clear vision and goals for the person you would like to be in 2017. Craft your resolutions to reflect your hopes and dreams so you can track down your big moments and be ready to catch them as they come.