The start of a new year: a time in which we often set resolutions and new goals for ourselves. However, it often proves difficult sticking to these goals, and sometime around February or March, we need to admit defeat.

Staying committed to your goals can be tricky, but it’s not impossible. Here are seven ways you can set, surrender, and stick to your new goals.

1. Ask Yourself: Is Your Goal Essential?

Setting many different resolutions can be confusing and overwhelming when it comes time to execute. Instead, ask yourself what is the one thing that would really make this year the best year yet. Or, What is really important to me that I want to implement into my life?

2. Small Steps

As ambitious as you are, you set the bar high, and you don’t settle for less. And although there is nothing wrong with having big dreams, without sub-goals or small steps of action, you might feel so overwhelmed or far from your goal that you fail to really start at all. Instead, think about small steps that you need to achieve in order to get one step closer to your end goal or resolution. Work back from your big goal toward what you can achieve or work on this year, over the next six months, during the next quarter, the next two weeks, etc.

3. Focus on the Process

When setting these sub-goals, keep in mind the difference between a result-based goal and a process-based goal. A goal focused on a specific result is usually not entirely within your control, so if you are only setting result goals, you might have to adjust your plans often. Instead, a process-based goal is completely within your control and focused on the things you can change. Some examples of processed-based goals include: improving your position at the jump, being on time, leaving your phone switched off to be more present, etc. It’s fine if your end (or big) goal is be more result-focused, but make sure you set plenty of process goals to help you get there.

There is nothing lost as long as you remember that every day is a new opportunity to get back on track.

4. Prepare Like a Pro

Now you know what you would like to achieve and what the steps are in order to get there. This is where most people stop and wish for the best. However, the most important part of meeting your goals, resolutions, or making your habits stick is to plan and prepare like a pro. When will you take action? What will you do differently? When will you pencil it in? What else do you need in order for you to take consistent action? What could prevent you from sticking to your goal and what can you do to avoid it? Visualizing the full process will really help you think the essential aspects through.

5. Set Reminders

After you have created a clear plan and you have visualized how you will go about sticking to your new resolution, you need to make sure you stay reminded for at least two months. It is easy to remember your plan during the first few days or weeks, but after something like a week of travels, most of us suddenly realize we have completely forgotten about our resolutions! In order to prevent falling back into old patterns, make sure you set reminders, like post-it notes, phone notifications, etc. Change the color of your post-it or change the wording regularly, as the brain only pays attention to things that are novel.

6. Make it a Habit

The last step for making your new resolution stick successfully is to implement your small steps and create a new daily habit. The smaller or easier your daily habit, the more likely you will stick to it. Ideally, you should perform the habit at the same time each day or connect it to a habit you already have.

7. Stick to It!

Don’t be alarmed if you fall off the wagon for a day or two (or even a week). There is nothing lost as long as you remember that every day is a new opportunity to get back on track. No matter how slow you go, you are still lapping everybody else on the couch!

With a background in the show jumping sport, Annette Paterakis is a performance coach, specialized in mental coaching equestrians. She is passionate about working with riders to help them better understand the mind and to provide the framework for creating the right conditions to reach peak performance.

For more information on Paterakis, please visit her website at www.annettepaterakis.com.

-Photo credit: Lucio Landa.