Post it notes with resolutions

Making resolutions is easy--it's keeping them that's hard. Do you find yourself in the same position each year: entering January with high hopes for change that quickly fizzle as you fall back into old habits? If so, your expectations may be at the root of the problem.

While it's easy to get swept up in the spirit of the resolutions by making big plans for total transformation, the loftier the goal, the greater the danger of major disappointment should you fail to reach it. And while it's important to set challenging goals for yourself to encourage self-improvement, if the goals that you choose are unrealistic or unobtainable, then you're setting yourself up for repeated failure. What's the alternative? Managing your expectations. Try something different this year: make resolutions that you can really stick to--in January and beyond.

Think Bite-sized, Not Meal-sized
Behind many a failed resolution lies an attempt to tackle too much at once. As you set out to plan your resolutions, try to make each goal bite-sized rather than meal-sized. For example, if your overall goal is to complete a half-marathon, your resolution might be to join a running group or hire a coach to help you train regularly. If your goal is to start your own business, your resolution might be to begin researching the steps you'll need to take in order to launch it. If your goal is to have a website built, your resolution might be to find a web designer who can help you map out your vision. If losing weight is your mission, start with cutting down on sugar or committing to a daily 30 minute walk.

Be Selective
Another common problem with resolutions is trying to accomplish too many at once. You may want to lose weight, write a book, travel to Africa, and join a local choir. But if you resolve to check all of these off your list this year, you're bound to end up frustrated. If your goals are ambitious in scope, be sure to limit the number you commit to. For example, losing weight is a project unto itself. If this is your goal, it may be the only resolution you need this year. To add other ambitions on top of an already lofty project takes time and energy away from achieving your main objective.

Hold Yourself to It
You may have succeeded at honing in on one doable, bite-sized goal, but if you don't put a plan in place that maps out what you need to do to reach it, your idea may die on the vine. To ensure that you hold yourself to your resolution, make it as easy as possible to move toward it by figuring out what you need to do and when you need to do it. Mark key actions on a calendar to be sure you stay on track.

For example, if weight loss is your goal and you've committed to the bite-sized step of a daily 30-minute walk, choose a time for this exercise and mark it in your calendar. If you think it would help to have a friend join you on your stroll three times a week, make plans in advance, mark them on your calendar, and stick to them.