We are about to start another trip around the sun, and we can make it even better by taking a new look at New Year's resolutions.

New Year's Day is my favorite holiday. The menu is basically planned out for us, we don't have to dress up, and there's a freshness about it that I find comforting. It's like life is handing us a chance to sort of wipe the slate clean or step up the the proverbial starting line again. We get to choose the path and the pace.

If you aren't a resolution-maker, that's completely acceptable. If you are and have been left with a feeling of total failure after two days, two weeks or two months, the issue may be in perspective.

The key to being successful with your New Year's resolutions is to be specific. When you are, you make them easier to achieve. Remember, it's often about small steps. Here's a look at some of the most commonly broken resolutions and how to claim victory and make 2016 a year of achievement.

1. Getting more active-- Most of the time, folks who make this resolution believe they must spend an hour or two at the gym or hire a personal trainer or keep up with their Crossfit friends. Any resolution you make should always be about your personal goals. If you are, for the most part, relatively inactive, decide exactly what this means to you. Will you park far away from the store every time so you walk farther? Will you walk around your block twice every afternoon? Instead of laying down to watch TV in the evening, do squats or standing lunges. Invest in an inexpensive set of dumbbells and do bicep curls while you watch TV at night. You don't have to go from zero to 60 to be successful.

2. Losing weight/eating healthier-- These two generally go hand in hand. When you start eating healthier food, you typically start to shed pounds. Again, you must define the parameters. "I want to lose weight" is too general a goal. So is "I want to eat healthier." If you eat fast food often, cut it out altogether or at least once or twice a week. Commit to eating three to five servings of fruits and vegetables a day. Increase your water intake by pledging to drink a certain amount every day. These three suggestions are small, specific steps you can make that will contribute to healthier eating and help you to shed pounds.

3. Saving money-- We live in the "I want it and I want it now" society. However, it's important for us to save for those emergencies or even those big purchases we want to make later. If you have trouble saving, start small. It adds up. There are a few ways you can do it, too. One way I learned from a coworker. She takes all of her loose change-- quarter, dimes, nickels, pennies-- and puts it into a giant jar in her house. Each year, she manages to collect enough in that jar to go on a beach vacation! Isn't that cool? Another way to start small is that every paycheck take a specified denomination, whether its a five, a ten or a twenty, and put it into an envelope. A third is to set it up automatically through your payroll system at work. Most of us get paid through a direct deposit system that allows us to allocate which accounts our money goes in to. If a portion, even a small amount, is going directly into a savings account, you don't see it in the account you normally spend from. That way, you've got a little pile growing and you are managing to save and draw some interest. Again, start small!

4. Spend less time with my smartphone/technology-- This one is really tough for those of us who are especially addicted to social media! We all spend so much time wanting to know what's happening in the world that we forget to notice what's happening right in front of us. As with all the other suggestions, be specific. Decide that when you get home, you will put your phone on your bedside table and not touch it until a prescribed time. If you need to be accessible for work as many of us are, put it somewhere that you can hear it ring or signal a text, but don't touch it until that prescribed time. Promise yourself that you won't use or look at your phone while you are having a meal, whether it's lunch or dinner. How often have you gone to lunch with friends or coworkers and your phone was right there on the table in front of you? I've seen it all too often. Be social in 2016, but do it in real life, and plan specific times when you will put down those devices. Baby steps!

5. Enjoy life/be more positive-- You can't get much more generic or non-specific than these resolutions! What you can do is decide what to do to make each day a little easier or brighter, even if it's for just a moment at a time. I find that starting my day by thanking God for a brand new day and the blessings I know I have, like my family, help me to start off on a good foot. Our wonderful general manager at our company subscribes to a service that emails him an uplifting quote every day. We are fortunate that he shares them with us. Promise to read something funny each day. No matter how badly your day is going or how rotten you feel, laughter can be therapeutic. Help someone, even if it's in the smallest way, whenever you can. And don't expect anything in return. Look at your calendar and decide that at least one day in a prescribed period of time will be a "do whatever I want" day. Don't schedule anything that requires effort or chores. Stay in your pajamas all day. Leave that day on your calendar blank. Or plan to run away by yourself or with your family for the day. Do whatever you want.

I firmly believe that the key to New Year's resolutions is being specific. Make those promises to yourself and don't start off feeling like a failure within the first couple of weeks. Here's to a successful 2016, whatever that means for you!

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