When I was little, my mother told me that you should never make promises you don’t intend to keep. That became one of my life’s mottos, along with a few more mom’s wisdoms, and it was only last week, as I was going over my resolutions for 2016, that I realized that I’ve been falling short of my own mark for a good part of my adulthood simply by not living up to the end-of-year promises to my future self.

Fortunately or not, I’m not alone in my lack of New Year’s resolve: as few as 8% of all resolvers have what it takes to achieve their vows before the Earth completes yet another trip around the sun. And as I pondered on the reasons why so many of us are so quick to abandon pledges to grow, improve, and become a better version of ourselves, I realized that lack of self-discipline, unrealistic goals, and priority list shakeups en route are not the only deal-breakers that can derail a resolver’s success. For some people, it’s actually the failure to make failsafe action plans that shatters the eggs of New Year’s resolutions even before they get to hatch. But how do you stop yourself from sabotaging your own success? If you’re one of the 8% resolvers who always get to count annual triumphs on New Year’s Eve, you can stop reading here; but if you’re up with the 92% of less resolute folks still holding last year’s list of resolutions and privately cursing last year’s enthusiasm, you may want to keep reading: I have a few suggestions here to help you stock your bag of resolution realization tricks with efficient strategies that will make it easier for you to painlessly implement end-of-year decisions and finally jump on the success boat in 2017.

1. Lose Weight, Not Dieting Motivation

According to some statistics, weight loss is by far the most popular resolution that gets broken easily. Fortunately, there are quite a few tricks to prevent loss of weight watching enthusiasm: you can cheat your inner diet cheater by simply not buying food you’re supposed to be avoiding or by paying yourself a symbolic sum of cash for sticking to the meal schedule religiously. You can also prepare week-long meal ratios over the weekends and freeze them instead of having to settle for fattening takeout on busy workdays. Drop the donut now and step away slowly: your slimmer self will be grateful to you for the effort.  

2. Drop the Act – Get Your Act Together

It’s sad, but it’s true: we’d all manage to do much more if we could just get our life organized. If you want to jump on the hyper-organized, no-minute-wasted wagon, arm yourself with reliable productivity tools, To Do lists, and time management apps, give up social networks, telly time, and other unconstructive pastime activities, and make efficiency a habit rather than exception. In a couple of weeks, you’ll realize just how much time you have on your hands when the entire day is organized properly.

3. Spend Less, Save More, Want Never

This one goes out to all binge-shoppers out there: all that money you spent frivolously will come back to haunt you sooner or later, so make a change now and save yourself both extra money and the hassle of having to deal with the ghosts of Wasted Cash. Open a savings account, track local discounts and your own financial ins and outs with the help of smart apps, get a side job, and start setting aside a part of monthly earnings for a rainy day. You never know when life may throw an emergency your way, so it’s better to be financially prepared for a costly scenario than up to your nose in debt.

4. Enjoy Life sans Guilt Trips in the Mix

On New Year’s Eve, many people promise to themselves that they’ll enjoy life more and stress less in the months to come – but that’s easier said than done, right? Well, not exactly. To fight stress and start living your life fully, you need to learn to deal with anger constructively, let go of negativity, drop the blame game, be social, and tap into the power of relaxation techniques such as meditation, yoga, and qigong. 

5. Stay Fit and Healthy Like You Mean It

Getting in shape is easy, but staying in shape all the year round is a completely different matter. If you’re a couch potato looking to mend their ways in the year to come, there’s dozens of things you can do to stay on the fit and active track. You can start by signing up for the gym, setting aside 20 minutes a day to work out, or walking or biking to work. If lack of time during the day is an issue, you can slap some reflective clothing tape onto your jacket and hit the park under the cloak of night: it’ll be a small step for the humankind, but a huge one for you.

6. Picking up New Skills as Pick-me-ups

When was the last time you learnt something completely new? A new year is as good a time as any to expand your professional or personal skill set, and thanks to the fast-paced technological development, you can now use thousands of smartphone apps and PC programs in your pursuit of growth. Language learning apps, YouTube tutorials, and learning-oriented websites are just a click away, which means it’s high time you stopped dropping around excuses and started picking up new skills every day.

7. Lay off the Bottle – and Cigarettes, too

Nicotine and alcohol never did anyone any good, and if you’re to set your life on the healthy, happy, and productive track, hazardous habits will need to go. Although addictions are usually tough to shake, but fortunately, new methods to curb substance abuse keep popping up every day – and one of them might just work if you’re up for the quitting challenge and dead-set on success.

8. Today Leg-ups and Tomorrow’s Alms

The world would be a much better place if we could all open up our hearts and do a single act of charity a day. A noble gesture is a reward unto itself: by doing charity work, you get a chance to help a person in need and boost the quality of your own life by meeting new people, improving your self-image, and painting a silver lining on cloudy days yourself. Love, care, and charity make the world go round, and the act of kindness will cost you nothing compared to the benefits it’ll bring you.

9. Board the Bus to Loverville

Not all singletons like their life solo – in fact, many of them long to fall in love on New Year’s Eve, or in January at the latest. If your heart’s desire is to meet a kindred spirit in the year ahead, you can set your pursuit of romance on the right foot by signing up for a dating app, going out more, and polishing your flirting skill set. Stop holding your breath: Santa won’t deliver a custom-built significant other to you in a shiny wrapper; if you want to get lucky this year, you need to do the soulmate searching on your own. And of course, don’t forget to always look great and be noticed. Embrace one of your feminine evening dresses and high heels at least once for a night out with the girls, just to see what happens to your self-esteem. 

10. The Love that Runs in the Family 

Another New Year’s resolution that’s faster to break than realize, spending more time with the people you love won’t happen all by itself. To strengthen family bonds and show to your loved ones just how important a place they occupy in your heart, you’ll need to make time for them which can at times call for small private sacrifices in the name of love. Skip the new episode of your favorite show, cut down Facebook time, and get up half an hour earlier to have coffee with your significant other or make breakfast for your amazing kids. This is a small price to pay for emotional health and a family life filled with joy, understanding, and happy memories.

New Year’s Eve is a time to count our blessings, be merry, and express our gratitude for all that life’s brought us in the past 365 days – but it’s also a time to make plans and decisions for the year ahead. Don’t let another year go by just like that: make a few promises to yourself right away and stick to them in the year to come, truly – because if you don’t, you’ll be cheating yourself out of tomorrow’s joy, progress, and health. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you – and make this one count!

Written by: Claire Hastings