The new year is a great time to start fresh, let go of poor habits and establish positive new routines. But making a resolution can be much easier than actually keeping one. One of the most popular resolutions people make is to improve their health and fitness. Unfortunately, by late-February, many people find they’ve slipped back into old patterns. So how do we avoid the resolution rut?

By establishing new goal-setting frameworks, you can consistently feel accomplished and more importantly, get results. Here are 5 tips to set yourself up for resolution success this year.

Go in with a plan

Instead of waiting to the last minute and starting blindly, take time to thoughtfully choose your resolution. Write it down and think about the ‘why?’ behind it, consider some hurdles you might encounter, and how you can tackle them.

Knowing your ‘why’ and having a plan to achieve it (your ‘how’) can fuel motivation. If you run into obstacles along the way, refer to your ‘how’ to help you overcome them. And if your motivation starts to wane, reread your ‘why’ to remind yourself of the reasons you wanted to make the change in the first place.

Take baby steps

You may have a laundry list of things you’d like to work on, but so much change at once can be daunting -- and unattainable.

It takes an average of 21 days for behaviour changes to become habits, and taking on too much at one time can be a recipe for failure. Instead, choose one or two small changes, work on them for a month, then add one or two more. By tackling lifestyle changes one or two at a time, the chances of sticking to them long-term are much higher.

Set attainable goals

Some resolutions involve a total body transformation, but it’s important to be realistic about what is achievable and healthy for you.

Remember that bone structure, genetics, lifestyle variations and even enhancements make all bodies different. Using an influencer or celebrity as a benchmark may be unfair to you and your body, and can also be demotivating. Set goals that are realistic and meaningful to you. They will be more attainable, which can keep you motivated toward reaching them.

Start slowly and work your way up

If you’re working on a new health and fitness plan, it’s tempting to try to do everything right away. People often jump into hitting the gym every day and pushing themselves too hard too soon. Many of us opt for short-term cleanses or weight loss challenges.

Instead, start with 2-3 days per week in the gym, and gradually increase. Don’t discount resistance training, because that muscle mass will keep your caloric burn going all day. Remember that challenges are short-lived, when resolutions should be long-term. Quick-fix plans are intended for short-term gain, and rarely stand the test of time.

Make exercise something you desire

It’s perfectly normal to struggle with exercise motivation from time-to-time. Boost your success by scheduling workouts at times that don’t compete with activities you prefer. If your options are to either go the gym or stay home and fold laundry, exercise may seem like the more rewarding option, making you more likely to choose it. Try introducing exercise breaks into your workday, making a workout a break from work.

Bring a friend

There’s an African proverb that says “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” This philosophy applies to your resolutions too.

Find a friend or family member who shares your drive to make long-term lifestyle changes. Plan things together that support your goals, and hold each other accountable for the things you hope to achieve. A great option is to work with a personal trainer who will help you set attainable goals and keep you accountable as you work toward them. If you share your fitness experience with others, not only will you be more likely to achieve and sustain your goals, but you may just build stronger relationships as a result.

Resolutions can be a positive and motivating way to kick off a new year. But establishing new habits takes dedication and should be done gradually and thoughtfully. With the right approach and realistic expectations, you can set and reach new goals each and every year.