As the New Year is rung in with the melody of Auld Lang Syne, so too are thoughts of resolutions for the year ahead. As quickly as millions of people make their resolutions, they break them.

From losing weight and getting organized to spending less and saving more, resolutions are a firm decision to do or not to do something. And although resolutions are made with good intentions, without a plan they’re quickly forgotten.

“If you would like to make a change in your life, it’s far better to set a goal rather than a resolution,” said Chip Coffey, director of Therapy Service of St. Luke’s Behavioral Health Center. “A goal is something you are working to do, and our resolve can help us achieve our goals. However, seldom does a resolution work out for the long run.”

The experts at St. Luke’s Behavioral Health Center have provided tips to help put people on the path to achieving their New Year’s resolutions. Among them:

Be realistic

Your goal must be simple, realistic, positive, measurable and achievable. A goal to lose 50 pounds in 30 days is positive and certainly measurable; however, for most people it is not simple, realistic or achievable. A goal to lose 50 pounds over the course of a year is simple, realistic, positive, measurable and achievable. A goal to work out three times a week would also be simple, realistic, positive measurable and achievable.

Establish milestones

Losing 50 pounds over the next year can be intimidating. Setting mini-goals along the way (and celebrating achievements) gives an added boost of momentum to help you stick to your bigger goal. While 50 pounds may seem overwhelming, setting a mini-goal to lose one pound each week seems simple, realistic, positive, measurable, and most importantly, achievable.

Think through a plan

It’s easy to wax poetic about the resolutions for a week or two before abandoning the cause. Sit down, put your goal to paper, and make a plan. In doing so, it becomes real and less likely to be abandoned. The plan should focus on what, when, where, how, why and who. For example, the what is losing a pound; the when is each week, the where is at the gym, home and work; and the how is by reducing calorie intake, plus walking, hiking or going to the gym. The two most important questions are the why and the who. The why is the motivator. While fitting into the little black dress at next year’s holiday party seems as good a reason as any, it’s a fickle one. Instead, think about the bigger reason behind their resolution: “I want to feel better physically.” And the who are the cheerleaders helping to motivate you to stick to your goal.

Stay positive

Setbacks are normal. Not reaching a goal or having to start over isn’t an indicator of personal failure. Ask yourself what you learned from the experience and use that knowledge to reset your main goal and mini-goals. Not achieving objectives can actually strengthen the desire to get to the ultimate goal.

Have fun

Nothing is a bigger de-motivator than not enjoying the journey of reaching a goal. If working toward a goal isn’t fun, it likely won’t be achieved. Having fun will increase the chances of celebrating achievement.