There is something very enticing about using the new year as a marker for change. It’s an opportunity for a fresh start and a chance to commit to making essential improvements in your life. It’s an opportunity to make a public announcement of these commitments as a form of accountability.

Yet 92% of New Year’s Resolutions will fail within a month. Public accountability for New Year’s Resolutions does not usually help perhaps because it is an accepted norm for these resolutions to fail.

You can be successful with your New Year’s Resolutions if you follow these nine simple steps. After you are done, you will have New Year’s Resolutions that are not only attainable but extremely likely to succeed.

Ready? Let’s begin!

1. Make it singular

If you are like most of us, your eyes are bigger than your stomach. You want to use this opportunity to commit to all of the significant changes in your life. This will never work. Focus on one single improvement at a time. Select the one item on your list that will have the most significant impact on your life’s vision.

2. Make it specific

Many of us desire to lose weight, get organized or make more money. Stating your resolution in this form is a recipe for failure. How will you know when you are successful? How much weight do you need to lose? What does getting organized look like? How much additional money will you need before your resolution is a success? Instead, state your resolution with a specific goal.

I want to lose weight becomes I want to lose 25 Lbs.
I want to get organized becomes I want to start using a task manager to track my commitments.
I want to make more money becomes I want to earn an additional $1 Million.

3. Make it measurable

You need to be able to track your progress if you genuinely want your New Year’s Resolution to succeed and you cannot track something that cannot be measured. By monitoring your efforts you will begin to see results and this will serve not only to build confidence and momentum, but also to let you know when your New Year’s Resolution has been achieved.

Body weight is measurable. Money is measurable. What about using a task manager? What measure could you use to track progress toward this goal? Because it is not possible to measure, you need to redefine it with a variable that is measurable.

Think about the reason you decided to select a task manager for the goal of getting organized. It’s probably because you were forgetting about and missing some of your commitments. Estimate how many times this has happened and then pick a lower number. For this example, let’s say that you have dropped the ball for important items about 10 times in the past year. Your New Year’s Resolution might become Miss zero important commitments. Notice how the resolution now is both specific and measurable. We may decide to utilize a task manager to achieve this goal, but using the task manager is not the goal. Fulfilling this redefined resolution will now help move you toward your original concept of getting more organized. Now you have a specific strategy.

4. Make it achievable

It’s nice to say you want to make an extra $1 Million this year, but you won’t. Unless you have reason to believe that this is indeed achievable, then the resolution will fail. Set goals that are difficult to attain, but are realistic and possible.

While $1 Million may not be realistic, $50,000 might be. Or $15,000. The number will be different for everyone so find one that is right for you.

With 52 weeks in a year and a safe 2-3 Lbs. per week of weight loss, that’s a maximum of 156 Lbs. of weight loss in a single year if everything goes perfectly. It’s probably safe to assume that if you need to lose 156 Lbs. that it may not go perfectly all year, so a more realistic goal would probably 100 Lbs. This goal is challenging but attainable.

Missing zero important commitments when your track record is poor is an unrealistic goal. Select something still difficult but achievable by allowing for a learning curve. Checking in, now our resolutions look like this:

I want to lose 25 Lbs.
I want to miss no more than three important commitments.
I want to earn an additional $30,000.

5. Make it relevant

If you are setting a New Year’s Resolution because you it’s what you think you should be doing or because it’s what everyone else says is important, then take a step back and evaluate if it is indeed something that you want to accomplish. If this resolution is not aligned with your vision of your life then you will not have the resolve to follow through with it.

If everyone keeps telling you that you should lose weight but you are very comfortable with yourself and your body, then this may not be a good New Year’s Resolution for you. (Of course, if it’s your doctor telling this to you, it’s probably a good idea to listen!) Select a New Year’s Resolution that you want to achieve. You will be more motivated to follow through.

I want to miss no more than three important commitments.
I want to earn an additional $30,000.

6. Make it time-bound

Without a deadline, you will either never begin working on your resolution, or you will likely put it off because there is no compelling reason not to. A timeline gives you an end-point and more motivation to begin.

I want to miss no more than three important commitments by July 1, 2018.
I want to earn an additional $30,000 by September 1, 2018.

If you have followed productivity advice in the past, you may recognize these steps as S.M.A.R.T. Goals. Specific. Measurable. Achievable. Relevant. Time-bound. What is a New Year’s Resolution if it is not merely setting a goal? Using these time-tested and proven steps for goal setting will significantly increase your chances of setting a New Year’s Resolution that is not only achievable but also extremely likely to succeed.

However, even with a properly constructed New Year’s Resolution, you still have to do something about it. What steps can you take to begin progress toward completing your goal? What actions will facilitate the motivation and behaviors that will be necessary to achieve results?

7. Identify action steps

Identify one new action that you can begin each week that will help bring you closer to your goal. To get organized you can implement a task manager, you can declutter your work space, or you can learn new tactics for utilizing your calendar. To earn more money, you can select a source of income to pursue (i.e. selling something you make) and then devise a strategy. You may need to begin by learning how to market yourself. This is okay because it is part of the process of making more money. Commit to one new, achievable action step each week that directly or indirectly contributes to your goal.

8. Track your progress

Every week, mark your progress on a chart. Make the chart fun to look at and keep it in a place where you will see it every day. As the progress bar begins to move, this will motivate you to continue.

A four month chart with no important commitments missed will be a great motivator to continue to implement new organizational strategies. Be sure to track important obligations both kept and missed!

After the first $5,000 additional income, you will be motivated to continue your efforts to reach the goal of $30,000. Without a progress chart right in front of you, however, although you will know you have made extra money, you won’t see precisely how much additional income contributes to reaching you goal.

9. Stay accountable

Select one or two close relations (family or friends) with whom you can share your progress weekly. Use the opportunity to discuss your accomplishments, identify failures, and brainstorm ways to correct for the shortcomings in the future.

Personal accountability is not about being chastised for doing something wrong, but instead is an opportunity for self-reflection and improvement. When you tell your accountability partner(s) about your successes, you will build confidence. When you discuss your failures, there should be no judgment. Think of it like looking in a mirror where you will see things from a different perspective that you may not see on your own. The purpose is to improve over time, not to be punished for failure.

You now have the tools to set a New Year’s Resolution that is important, challenging, and realistic. Choose to follow through by setting up a system that will enable your success. If you reach your goal before the end of the year, why not set another New Year’s Resolution right away? There is no need to wait for January!