As we start to settle into the new year so many of us reflect on areas of our life that we can improve on. Our hopes are high. We set big goals, and have resolutions that we are excited about. We look forward to the year ahead and strive to live our best life by improving our health, self care, relationships, career, etc. But all too often our resolutions only last for a couple of months. Countless people give up much too soon because they do not see the results they want. This is because their resolutions haven’t formed into habits yet. It takes an average of 66 days to create a habit and allow the brain’s neural pathways of the new behavior to be formed.  In fact, a study conducted by researchers at the University of Scranton found that 23% of people quit working on their resolutions just two weeks into the New Year and only 19% stuck to their goals over the long haul. So how can you ensure that your resolutions stick around past February? Here are 3 ways to make your resolutions stick this year:

1. Create SMART Goals. Have 3-5 daily action steps that you can take towards your goals. Put pen to paper and make sure that they are SMART goals: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time bound. Create goals like, “I will go to the gym three nights per week.”

2. Make a commitment. Set yourself up for success and ensure that you follow through with your goals by making a commitment to yourself and to others. Tell a close friend or hire a coach for accountability. Research suggests that this will help you stay committed and increase the likelihood of following through with your goals.

3. Visualize your goals as if they have already happened. According to several studies, visualization works because neurons in our brains interpret imagery as equivalent to a real-life action. This creates a new neural pathway which makes our body act in a way consistent to what we imagined.

So if you have struggled to keep your resolutions in the past, don’t lose hope. Sometimes progress is not always in a straight line. You might have obstacles or setbacks but don’t get discouraged. With a little extra planning and following the tips above you can change your habits and ultimately change your life. You can make this year your year for lasting change.