There are only 21 days left in 2015.  Then we launch into the new year.  It is a year full of promise and of change, just like every year before it.  Our lives will change over those 366 days (2016 is a leap year).  In some ways, those changes will be for the good.  In some ways, those changes will hurt or frustrate us.  Many of us can look forward to new careers, new partners, new cities and new homes.  The only thing we know for certain is that we will face change.

The questions that each of us must answer for ourselves is who is going to determine what changes will happen in our lives and who is going to determine how those changes affect us.  Will you let others decide which changes are going to happen to you?  Or, instead, are you going to take charge of your own live and make those changes you want to happen?  A powerful way to take charge of your life in 2016 is to start strong with positive and healthy New Year Resolutions.  Even better would be to start your resolutions today!

According to a University of Scranton Journal of Clinical Psychology study, only 8% of people are successful in their resolutions.  In fact, 25% of people drop their resolution within the first week of the year. A third of people don’t make it to the end of January.  The most common resolutions involve self-improvement/education (47%), weight related (38%), money related (34%) and then relationship related (31%).

With so few people actually keeping their resolutions, why do I suggest that people start the year with good/strong resolutions?  Because you can make resolutions that work and because even if you don’t completely fulfill your resolution, you can make forward progress toward your goal.  Something powerful to keep in mind in creating resolutions is to focus on small, incremental and continuous positive changes.  Your changes should be small enough that they are accomplishable for you but built in a way that they will accumulate to significant changes over time.

Here are a few tips on how to keep resolutions:

1.) Write it down – be specific.  What is it that you want to accomplish and when?

2.) Make a plan – Determine whats actions you plan to take to get the results.  For example, while your resolution may be to lose 50 pounds, create a plan to count/cut back on calories, make healthier food choices and exercise.  The most specific you are with your action steps, the more likely you will be able to keep them.

3.) Have you actions build over time – while you may have a resolution to go to the gym for 90 minutes five days a week, it isn’t likely that you are going to do right away.  Build that into your plan.  Perhaps start with 30 minutes three times a week with a plan to build to 45 minutes four times a week in February.  For many people, this start small but building action plan will get them started and keep them going.  The risk is that you may never build up to your original resolution but even settling for 45 minutes for days a week is much better than zero minutes seven days a week!

What are your resolutions?  What change are you committed to making in your life?