Each year, we promise ourselves we’ll be better: we plan to join a gym, lose weight, eat healthier, show more compassion to others, and resolve old problems. Yet every year, our resolutions fall short. Why is that?

A resolution is an ongoing process, not a result. Self-improvement starts and ends with you. You must be the catalyst of your own growth. No gym, pill, program, or person will do for you the work you must perform on your own. You can’t avoid the labor that leads to change and you shouldn’t fear its process; the right sort of change is nothing short of miraculous.

Most resolutions fail because they involve external enhancements. Permanent resolutions—the kind you can keep for life—entail transformation that is internal. Your focus should be on the inside: all outside aspects will reflect a healed, whole, and peaceful heart. If you empower yourself mentally and emotionally, you’ll thrive physically. You’ll make smarter decisions and won’t have to “force” yourself to do anything—evolution will follow without effort. When you’re well within, the pieces fall in place throughout.

Keep in mind these three factors when setting resolutions: make it realistic, make it personal, and make it a habit. First, setting realistic resolutions increases their chances of success. Don’t tell yourself you want to lose 30 pounds. Instead, resolve to eat healthier, cut down on alcohol, and exercise more often, for no one’s health but your own. By taking these actions, the excess weight will come off naturally. Next, formulate a clear and concise plan that’s personal to you. Why does this mean so much to you, and why do you want it? What is the best strategy to apply? Try to refrain from setting abstract goals like, “My resolution is to be happier.” What does happiness mean, to you? Is it spending time with your family, traveling to new places, or going back to school? Finally, you must cross the bridge from intention to action so that your wishes become habits you engage in on a day-to-day basis. Consistency is the only guarantee to change. The more you understand what and why you want to improve this year, the more likely you are to achieve your ambitions.

Apply these six resolutions for a better 2023 and beyond:

Settle old differences. The best way to start the new year is by closing old doors. Resolve feuds from the past by forgiving others and relinquishing old grudges. Forgive yourself first then detach from people who have hurt you. Wish them well, but move forward without looking back.

Think before you act. Acting on emotions can hurt us and others greatly. Tame your emotions so that instead of reacting immediately, you pause to reflect on the effects they could have in the short and long terms. Scribble down your thoughts and revisit the issue after careful consideration. This year, think before you act in all that you do.

Treat yourself like treasure. Practice complete care of your body, mind, and spirit. The simplest way to nurture yourself is to eliminate negative influences like toxic people or a manipulative partner. This will free up your energy to fulfill your own needs. As I like remind my clients: if you don’t take care of yourself, who will?

Detoxify your thoughts. We experience hundreds of thoughts each day. Keep a journal in which you jot down your daily thoughts. After one week, examine recurring ideas and assumptions: are they positive in nature, or fearful, discouraging, and limiting? Our minds are programmed to operate on patterns of thinking, whether they’re good or bad. Determining these patterns can help to discourage detrimental thoughts and rewire neural pathways towards beliefs that allow you to flourish.

Celebrate your progress. Reward yourself for your advancements so far—for the goals you’ve reached and the discipline you’ve shown. Compare where you are now with where you were a decade ago, a year ago, even a month ago. And if you find that something you’re trying to achieve is overwhelming you, try a slower, more comfortable pace. The rate of change isn’t as important as is steady, notable progress.

Take a leap of faith. We all have one thing that we really want to do, yet fear makes us hesitate. That little voice in your head might be nagging you to start a business, move to a new location, end a relationship, give someone a chance, write a book, or any other action you intuit will benefit your higher self. This is the year to commit to your dreams. Take away excuses, trust yourself, and take a leap of faith.

Remember that you’re the only one who can make yourself better every day, in every way. Implement these improvements into your everyday life and watch it transform.

To a new year and a new you,

Carmen Harra