You hear everyone talking about their New Year’s resolutions this time of year but how many times have you actually followed through with the goals you’ve set for yourself? What seems like an exciting new beginning in January can easily feel like a chore once March or April rolls around. The sad fact is that many people abandon their resolutions before the first month of the year is even over. 

If you’re looking to set goals you can actually achieve this year, here are 4 tips to keep in mind when planning your New Year’s resolutions. 

1. Be realistic.
The first step in setting a goal is to make sure it’s something you can actually achieve. Wanting to lose weight, for example, is a popular goal, but if you’re expecting to drop more than 20-30 pounds, you may be setting yourself up for disappointment. 

This step involves knowing yourself and knowing what’s possible for you to achieve in a year. It’s much better to start with a smaller goal you can actually stick with than to make major life changes in January and then become quickly burned out.

2. Anticipate your obstacles. 
Reaching your personal goals isn’t easy – otherwise everyone would be doing it! It’s a good idea to prepare for your barriers in advance rather than getting blindsided by them later or assuming they won’t be a problem for you. 

Try to anticipate the things that will trip you up on your way towards your goals and how you can avoid them. This way, you’ll have a plan when problems crop up and you won’t be scrambling or relying on your willpower alone to overcome them. 

3. Measure it. 
Make sure you have a way to tell whether you’re succeeding or not. It’s not enough to make a vague goal like “exercise more” – getting two extra minutes of walking in each day would technically count, but it’s probably not going to make you feel very successful. 

Be specific in setting your goals so you’ll know when you’re making progress and when you finally achieve it. You’ll feel much more fulfilled when you start seeing results if you know what to look for. 

4. Stay flexible. 
This goes along with being realistic, but know that it’s normal to slip up sometimes no matter what your goal might be. Allow for a little flexibility in your plans and don’t be so hard on yourself if you take a few steps back. 

For example, instead of cutting out all sugar cold-turkey and inevitably binging on chocolate when you have a craving, it’s a better idea to try and scale back your sugar intake but allow for the occasional indulgence. This will keep you satisfied but will still be much healthier for you in the long run. 

While many people abandon their New Year’s resolution before the end of January, you don’t have to be one of them. By setting achievable goals and working around the obstacles you encounter, you’ll find that it’s easier than ever to stick to your plan and to make the progress you want to see.