Top 5 Tips for Making Your New Year's Resolution Last

This time of year, everyone is thinking about the changes they want to make in the year ahead. I for one think that every day is an opportunity for change. In this moment, you can make a different choice. However, I completely understand the allure that a new year brings and the feeling we all get of having a fresh start. I also know that many resolutions don't last past January. With that in mind, these are my Top 5 Tips for keeping your resolution and achieving the success you deserve.

1. Set a Specific Goal

Making a vague resolution like "exercise more" or "save money" only sets you up to fail. Without a specific, measurable goal in mind, there is no way to determine if you reach your goal and it is much easier to fall off the wagon. Instead, make goals such as "exercise at least 30 minutes, 5 days a week" or "save $5,000" which give you something to strive for and measure yourself against.

2. Educate Yourself

Now that you have a goal in mind, research it! Find out what the time commitment will be, what skills and resources you will need, and what mistakes or problems others have had. With this information under your belt, you will be able to effectively tackle your resolution and more likely to succeed because you can prepare yourself and there will be no surprises. Nothing can throw you off faster than an unforeseen obstacle or unavailable resource. In addition, no one wants to work hard, only to be foiled by doing the wrong things in the first place.

3. Develop a Plan

With your destination chosen, you need to figure our how you're going to get there. A plan is essential to keep you on track. The best way I've heard it described is a goal pyramid. At the top, is your long-term goal or resolution. Moving down you have smaller goals and, below those, even smaller goals. For example, if your long-term goal was to lose 50 pounds, your smaller goal may be to lose 4-5 pounds a month. Moving down further, your goal would be to lose 1-2 lbs a week. The more you break it down the better! Having these smaller goals not only makes your long-term goal less daunting, but encourages you to continue. All of these little successes will fuel your confidence and drive and, in the end,  add up to big results.

4. Stay Accountable

Don't hide your resolution for fear of failure. Shout it from the roof-tops! Tell those around you about your goal and encourage them to hold you accountable if you start to slip. As much as I hate to admit it, what others think about us can be a great motivator. No one wants to disappoint their loved ones or feel embarrassed around their friends.

5. Don't Get Derailed by Slip-ups

If you mess up, don't let it phase you. Learn from your mistakes and move forward. An analogy I love for this is a flat tire. If you got a flat tire, you wouldn't jump out of the car and slash the other three tires, would you? Of course not! You would deal with the flat and move on down the road. The same holds true when it comes to reaching your goal. The path you take probably won't be a straight line. All that matters is that you reach the final destination. Set-backs are a reality for everyone. Every successful person you know has experienced failure. What separates the successful people from the unsuccessful is how they deal with those failures. Successful people learn the lesson and then keep pushing forward. The others simply give up. You are no less worthy than anyone else of living your dreams, no matter what they may be, so put your blinders on and make 2012 the year you finally reach your goal.