“And suddenly you know: It’s time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings.” ~ Meister Eckhart

The new year provides a wonderful opportunity to start something new, and make changes that will take us in the direction we would like to go.

The problem is that the vast majority of new year’s resolutions don’t make it through the first year. In fact, according to U.S. News & World Report, approximately 80% of resolutions fail by the second week of February. This is largely due to the fact that we often create unrealistic goals, and we try to do too much too fast.

So what can we do instead?

Here are some simple pointers that will help you create lasting change:

WHAT: Find one area of your life that you feel especially passionate about changing. Make sure it’s something you care about – not because you have have to, but because you want to. Narrow it down to one small, simple thing you can change in this area.

WHY: Identify why you want to make this change. This will help you stay motivated when things get challenging. Keep returning to your why.

HOW: Set a realistic goal that will help you get where you want to go. Write it down somewhere you will see often. Phrase it in a positive way in the present tense. For extra credit, add “I commit to” before your goal.

WHEN: Start right away and commit to doing it every day for 66 days in a row. That’s right, a 2009 study showed it takes 66 days to form a new habit, not 21 or 28 like we previously thought. We have to commit, and recommit, and recommit…

REFINE: If you get tripped up, use it as a learning opportunity instead of beating yourself up or giving up completely. What went wrong? What can you do differently? Then, start again with the new knowledge you acquired. Keep refining as needed.

CELEBRATE: Studies show that positive reinforcement is one of the most effective tools in creating lasting change. Celebrate your successes, large or small. This could be treating yourself to a new outfit, a massage, a home spa day, or whatever your little heart desires!

KEEP GOING because change begets change. Soon you will find that it wasn’t so bad, and you can start to tackle other “projects” you’d like to explore.

Before you know it, you will be a whole NEW YOU with new, healthier habits and a new outlook on life.

Remember, you can do it, and you are so WORTH IT!