This post was a popular article in my monthly newsletter, so I wanted to share it here, especially with New Year’s coming.

At my speaking engagements I ask for examples of common New Year’s resolutions. Nearly every time, “Lose weight,” “Exercise more,” and “Stop smoking,” are shouted out from the audience. My next slide shows those three. Sometimes the audience laughs because I knew what they were going to say before they said it.

That “trick” isn’t magic. People make New Year’s resolutions each year and pretty soon give up on their goals for that year. A year later they make the same resolutions. That’s why I know when I ask that question audiences will almost always give those same answers.

I once heard someone refer to that experience as a groundhog year—like Bill Murray’s repeating day in the movie Groundhog Day, but in this case the same year repeating over and over again.

That reminds me of the well-known definition of insanity attributed to Albert Einstein—doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.  It’s insane to create resolutions, to fail, and then a year later to set the same goals without a game plan to make those changes stick.

As 2014 comes to an end, what progress did you make this year? If you are frustrated with your progress, consider the proven method for making real, positive, lasting change—breaking those big goals down into small pieces and focusing on one small piece at a time for the 21 days it takes to form a habit.

When I say, “break it down into small pieces,” I mean really small. If getting into an exercise habit is your goal, and you can’t seem to get started, try these: sleep in your (clean) exercise clothes and keep your workout shoes by the foot of your bed; set ultra-small time and frequency goals (like once a week, or one minute a day), and build slowly from there; tell someone else about your goals and ask them to hold you accountable (one of my business partners asked me to do that for him this year and it helped.

If those don’t help, try something else. Anything else! Don’t wait for January 1 to roll around again. January 1 is an arbitrary date. Forget New Year’s Day; instead make every day New Life Day.

It’s true that every day is the first day of the rest of your life. No matter what you do or don’t do, every day you are new person. No two days are exactly alike. You have an experience of some sort every day that becomes part of who you are. Choose to be proactive: make change happen and then celebrate your progress, no matter how small.

What’s something you want to get started and when are going to start? Join the conversation with your comments…

Best regards,